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Homecoming A’s come up short against Texas

It almost seemed as though the A’s were focused on watching basketball rather than playing baseball.

Of course there are no televisions in the dugout, so Oakland has no good explanation as to why they could muster only one hit in the first six innings and a 2-1 loss to a division foe with their ace on the mound.

This story has been updated with post-game quotes and additional material from the Athletics locker room.

Oakland’s Sonny Gray (L, 7-3, 1.74 ERA, 6 IP, 8 H, 6 K, 2 ER, ) didn’t have a particularly good day, allowing a flurry of hits early, but it wasn’t bad. Gray kept his club in the game, and they didn’t deliver.

Gray allowed a home run to first baseman Mitch Moreland, and an RBI single to designated hitter Prince Fielder.

Said a simplistic Gray, after being queried on the pitch to Moreland:

“I just left it up.”

Rangers starter Nick Martinez (W, 5-2, 2.85 ERA, 1 H, 3 BB, 3 K) was dominant, notching his fifth win of the season and his second shutout of the A’s in Oakland this year.

Brett Lawrie struck out in both at bats against Martinez, and another time while facing right-handed reliever Tanner Scheppers.

Ironically, the A’s offense picked up just minutes after the final second of the Warriors’ loss in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

Three hits and a walk in the seventh inning marked what seemed to be the beginning of a rally, but with runners at first and second, outfielder Billy Burns flied out to center and catcher Josh Phegley struck out swinging on a pitch that should have been ball four. Three down, no runs, tough luck.

The A’s final batter, Burns, flied out to the pitcher to seal the 37th A’s loss of the season. Burns had his 12-game hit streak broken up Tuesday after the rookie had gotten off to a hot start as the catalyst for the A’s rejuvenated stretch of winning.

The lone run came on an RBI single from catcher Josh Reddick, scoring utility man Ben Zobrist in the eighth inning.

Oakland entered the series debut versus Texas with six wins in their last 10. But they’ve lost four straight after building a season high four game win streak.

Manager Bob Melvin touched on some of the feeling that has continued with the A’s this season:

“There’s a lot of frustration. There’s a lot of frustration with a lot of things that are going on with us. Close games like that, we can’t get a big hit. We’ve lost a lot of one run games.”

On the night, Melvin added:

“We had some opportunities. We didn’t get a real big hit when we needed to. That’s usually the case when you lose close games like that.”

Oakland’s bullpen has been strong after an awful start, and ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte is the newest member. Said Melvin, of the 29-year-old’s home debut:

“(It was) like every inning we’ve seen out of him. Whether it’s here, or spring training, he’s focused. Confident. You know you’re going to get your matchup. And he’s having a real good time with it.”

Oakland is still not winning games in late, though. The A’s are 12-6 when their starter lasts seven innings or more, the relative importance highlighted by their 11-31 record when the bullpen works three or more innings this season.

Oakland is also 5-25 when the compeition scores first, and 0-36 when tied or trailing after the eighth inning. Evermore, the A’s have won only one game when trailing after the seventh inning.

There are no matchup equations that have served as Oakland’s savior this season. Not pinch hitting for Josh Reddick versus a lefty, as the A’s did Tuesday, or any other pitcher-hitter matchup.

Oakland has won far more games when facing right-handed pitching, 20-26, only winning three of 14 games against southpaws. Texas has a lot of right-handers in their arsenal, and only two southpaws.

Ross Detwiler, part one of the left tandem, pitched a rocky frame in the seventh, allowing two hits and one run while recording two outs.

The A’s have now split the season against Texas, four wins apiece, and remain 11 games behind the first-place Astros. Texas is in second, two games back.

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