The Oakland A’s have hit a soft spot right before the All-Star break, dropping two of three to the last-place Rangers after an 8-3 loss to Texas Thursday afternoon.
The Rangers (32-49) scored one run in the first playing small ball, but the long ball delivered most of the Texas runs Thursday. Fighting for first place and just one game back in their division, Oakland (48-35) has now split one series and lost a second series to the last-place team in their division.
When asked what makes the challenge was with the Rangers, Bob Melvin quickly named Joey Gallo — 3-for-3 Thursday with a home run and three RBI — but gave credit to the entire Texas team:
“Gallo has been pretty good. They’ve had the middle of the order, Lowe has been a little bit tough on us too but we haven’t played great. We haven’t played our best here … but give them credit. They’re swinging the bats well against us and doing enough on the pitching in as well.”
The A’s picked up three runs in the eighth but it wasn’t close to being enough. The Astros were swept by the Orioles and play the Cleveland Indians at 4:10 p.m. It is way too early to be keeping track, but we are.
LHP Sean Manaea was named MLB’s June’s Pitch Hand of the Month award Thursday morning, becoming the third pitcher to receive the thumbs up trophy award joining White Sox LHP Carlos Rodón (6-3, 2.06 ERA) and Tampa Bay’s LHP Rich Hill (6-3, 3.70 ERA). Manaea (L, 6-5, 3.13 ERA) received a nice honor, but picked up fifth loss of the season after a five-inning, four-run performance Thursday.
Manaea spoke about his not-so-hot day, saying he felt good overall just needed to improve on some things:
“That guy [Gallo] is really good. Seems like he’s hitting everything so yeah definitely just need to make competitive pitches… Two really good hitters. The slider to Lowe wasn’t a competitive pitch at all, he just recognized it out of my hand and hit a bomb so yeah. Joey [Gallo] is just a really good hitter … I would say pitch location. I wasn’t really making competitive pitches and they put good swings on the ball. Got a couple broken bat hits, couple bloops and a couple really hard hit balls so yeah just got beat today, for sure.”
The Rangers quickly put a run on the board in the first with two outs when Adolis García doubled and stole third before Gallo singled to bring him in for a 1-0 lead. Nate Lowe hit a solo bomb (11) to right on the first pitch from Manaea to lead off the fourth and make it 2-0.
Moreland explained what the Rangers were able to do all week but mainly on Thursday:
“Today they hit. It seems like they put a lot of good swings on the ball, hit some balls hard and scored some runs so it’s going to be tough when the other team is swinging like that, they had a good day.”
Eli White singled to lead off the fifth before Gallo hit a two-run homer (20) to clear the bases up 4-0 in the fifth. Gallo homered in all three games of the series, two off James Kaprielian on Tuesday, one off A’s closer Lou Trivino in Wednesday’s 3-1 win, and then another on Thursday. Gallo entered the game 1-for-13 with seven strikeouts against Manaea and was 3-for-3 on Thursday with a homer. He has seven home runs in the last five games and nine homers in eleven games and counting. Gallo should be intentionally walked more than he is.
Mitch Moreland spent some time in his career playing with the Rangers but Gallo was not an everyday player at the time. Moreland finally got to see the hype after facing the Rangers seven times in two weeks:
“I always heard about these runs he would go on but never have really seen it. What he did this series was pretty impressive obviously, finishing out the day with three hisses and he was locked in. I think he walked in the other at bat but he seems like he is getting hit pitch and not really missing it. He can go on some hot streaks and he can hit them a long ways.”
The A’s could not get any of their base runners to score on Thursday. The A’s had the bases loaded with one out and couldn’t score a run in the second inning. A wild pitch scored Ramón Laureano on third during a Seth Brown at-bat, but it ended up hitting Brown’s foot. Brown ended up landing on first and Laureano had to go back to third; it was the only time Thursday an A’s player touched home plate. The A’s had Matt Chapman and Matt Olson on first and second but a double play and strikeout would end the third inning.
Melvin spoke about the early innings and how the team left too many runners stranded in scoring position:
“It would have been a little bit of a different game. We got behind toward the end a little bit. Sean was off his game some. He battled as long as he could, he gave up some hits, just didn’t have his best command. So, things could have looked a little different if we took advantage earlier in the game.“
Moreland led off the fourth with a double and was left stranded. It was a frustrating game from the top to the bottom of the lineup when Dane Dunning was on the mound. He lasted just four innings, allowing three hits and two walks. Dunning was relieved by LHP John King (W, 6-5, 2.86 ERA) who had nine-up, nine-down before the A’s put together a rally in the eighth when King walked the first two batters.
Melvin touched on how the team has been dealing with injuries all season, including everyday leadoff outfielder Mark Canha now on the injured list:
“You’re going to play with guys injured the entire season. It feels like these days, it’s rare when you have a full complimented roster wise, which is what you would consider your best 26, whether it’s on the pitching end or whether it’s on a position player in so no excuses. A lot of teams have to have to deal with injuries and are dealing with injuries right now.”
Domingo Acevedo came out of the sixth to make his third A’s appearance. He lost the game for the A’s in the first game against the Rangers, and Thursday gave up a home run to the first batter he faced when John Hicks hit his first homer of the season to make it 5-0.
Gallo made Deolis Guerra work in the seventh, but after eight pitches Gallo drew a walk. He almost fouled out to Chapman who sprinted towards the A’s bullpen from the shortstop area on a shift but overran the ball. Gallo walked and then Nate Lowe cleared the bases with a two-run blast (11) to make it 7-0 before the inning ended.
Burch Smith‘s first pitch in the eighth was a leadoff line drive single to center by Hicks. Two more singles would follow, with a run scoring when White singled to right to make it 8-0 with one out and runners on the corners. A beautiful sliding catch in the A’s bullpen from Chapman would the inning with just one earned run for Smith on three hits.
The A’s finally got a baserunner with King on the mound in the eighth when Tony Kemp was hit by a 77 mph changeup to lead off the inning. Chapman drew a full-count walk to put two on with no outs and the A’s finally had something to get excited about. Frank Schwindel — who hit the winning two-run homer in Wednesday’s 3-1 win — pinch hit for All-Star contender Matt Olson — hitless the entire Rangers series — and drove in the A’s first run. Schwindel almost hit a three-run homer similar to Wednesday’s home run ball over the left field foul pole but on Thursday, it was foul . Schwindel grounded into a fielder’s choice but when King fielded the ball, his throw to second landed in center field and it was 7-1 with runners on the corners with no outs.
Melvin explained the team is struggling right now:
“We can’t rely on a couple guys or have a couple guys feel like they have to have that much more pressure to have good at bats and drive runs in every time. When we are at our best, it’s the entire lineup and kinda the relentlessness of each at bat all the way one through nine.”
LHP Brett Martin relieved King and allowed two more runs before he ended the eighth inning. Chad Pinder doubled down the third base line to make it 8-2. Laureano grounded out for the first out but drove in a run while doing it which made it 8-3.
Moreland explained there is no sense of worry when it comes to what the team is capable of doing, and they are putting this series behind them:
“We have kinda been up and down all year. Hot and cold streaks, I think consistency could be a little bit better but at the same time this group has been really good all year. We can come back tomorrow and be right back on track, that is just the way we do it. The way we play the game, I am not worried about it at all. Everybody will come ready to play tomorrow and forget about this one today.”
Smith allowed a hit in the ninth but a double play ended the inning. Rangers Spencer Patton relieved Martin and held the game at 8-3 despite allowing a two-out Kemp double.
The Oakland A’s host the Boston Red Sox for a three-game weekend series starting Friday at 6:40 p.m. Fireworks are scheduled after the game, and BART will not be available after the fireworks show so fans should plan accordingly.
Ramón Laureano hit a ball about a foot shy of a solo homer in the sixth. … Seth Brown made a beautiful catch in right field to rob a line drive.