The Athletics sent nine men to the plate in the fourth, scoring six runs on seven hits to seize control of what had been a 2-2 battle. When the dust settled, all nine A’s has picked up at least one hit, and seven had driven in at least one run as Oakland snatched an 11-5 win Tuesday night at the Oakland Coliseum.
Rotation standout Frankie Montas was the beneficiary of the offensive outburst, but he was forced to battle. Montas (W, 4-1, 3.10 ERA) needed a season high 107 pitches to get through 5-2/3 innings.
Offensively, Texas (12-10) hung with the A’s (13-13), matching them 14 for 14 in the hit column. But Montas’ ability to hold the line, and Lance Lynn‘s inability to do the same was the difference.
Bob Melvin is happy to see the combined funk of his offense finally subsiding:
“I think that is on of the strengths of this team, 1 through 9 we can do some damage.”
Stephen Piscotty got Oakland’s huge fourth started with a base-hit and finished the night with his fifth career four-hit game, including a triple. Piscotty has led his club out of the offensive darkness of late and is batting .526 (10-for-19) during what is now a five-game hitting streak — he is also 9-for-16 (.563) in head-to-head matchups with the Rangers this season.
Piscotty got it started, but everyone got involved in the fourth. Even Chad Pinder, getting the start at second base in place of of Jurickson Profar, who was responsible for the only out through the first nine batters of the frame, chipped in with a run scored.
Josh Phegley and Marcus Semien each had doubles, and Matt Chapman walked.
Montas was relived by Yusmeiro Petit, who pitched 1 1/3 perfect innings of work, recording one strikeout. Ryan Dull finished the game and was not particularly sharp getting tagged for five hits and two runs in his two innings.
Despite the struggles, Melvin believes this was Montas’ best performance of the year, pointing to the top of the fourth when he had to pitch around a leadoff walk and an error:
“When he is rolling it is easy for him, but in the past when he has had some trouble, he has had a little trouble shutting it down. To get out of the fourth like that, on a day where we’re trying to get him out there as long as we can, and pitching around traffic the whole time — making pitches when he had to — I think, for him, this is probably as good as any other game he has had this year, knowing he can get out of tough innings.”
The fourth was certainly a test for a pitcher still trying to make his bones as a big leaguer.
Following a walk of Joey Gallo, Hunter Pence legged out an infield single. Then, Asdrubal Cabrera flipped a blooper back to the mound, but Montas couldn’t handle it giving Texas a bases-loaded, no-out situation for cheap.
But Montas has taken notes, and coaxed a groundball to the platinum glover Chapman who turned it into a double play cutting down Gallo at the plate.
“I started a little too hard and got myself in trouble, but after the second inning I feel like I came back to prove myself and just tried to make good pitches.”
Montas said he has been getting a lot of ground balls with his two-seam fastball, and he trusts his stuff. He was focused on hitting his spots and making good pitches. He ended the night with six strikeouts and two walks, giving up nine hits.
The Rangers got back on the board in the ninth.
Dull, who has struggled since a fantastic 2016 campaign, served up a Danny Santana two-run homer (2) but shut the door himself before Melvin was forced to have his “plus guys” — Lou Trivino and Blake Treinen.
Pence struck out looking to end the game. For the Rangers, one bad inning was the game changer in the A’s win. The A’s first two games against the Toronto Blue Jays resulted in a similar losses.
Chapman connected on a solo home run (7) in the bottom of the first, answering a Nomar Mazara RBI in the top half. The dinger was subject to a 45-second delay, though, and it was confirmed that Chapman’s 394-foot blast did in fact stay fair.
The A’s are hoping for a sweep Wednesday. Oakland will start Aaron Brooks (2-2, 5.23 ERA). The Rangers originally slated Drew Smyly, but he was scratched, their starter is yet to be announced.