Melvin: We were able to find that extra gear
Coco Crisp clubbed a two-run homer that broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the fifth. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
OAKLAND – The A’s pulled into a first-place tie Monday by beating the Texas Rangers 4-2. They hope the victory didn’t come with a hefty price.
Center fielder Coco Crisp left the game after fouling a ball off his right shin. Crisp was listed as having a contusion, and his status wasn’t immediately known.
Underscoring his importance to his club, Crisp clubbed a two-run homer that broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the fifth and continued his recent tear. It marked the third homer in three days for the switch-hitting leadoff man. He’s homered seven times in the past 12 games and now has a career-high 17 on the season.
It takes an injury these days to put a damper on anything the A’s are doing. They continued their roll by taking the opener of this three-game series and grabbing a share of first place for the first time since Aug. 9. Oakland has won eight of its past 10.
Crisp fouled off a pitch from Nick Tepesch and was in obvious pain as manager Bob Melvin and assistant trainer Walt Horn came out to check on him. With the home crowd encouraging him with a chant of “Coco! Coco!” Crisp stayed in the game and struck out swinging on the next pitch. He walked back to the dugout gingerly, then Brandon Moss entered the game in right field and Chris Young shifted over to center to take Crisp’s place.
Starting pitching report
Dan Straily was solid through five innings, allowing David Murphy’s two-run homer but just three hits total. He left plenty of work for his bullpen, however, as three walks helped drive his pitch count to 91. The A’s aren’t looking for complete games from Straily – the rookie right-hander has completed six innings in just 11 of his 23 starts. They need him to avoid big innings and keep them in ballgames, and he did that Monday.
Four relievers held Texas off the scoreboard over the final four innings. Grant Balfour entered for the ninth, and in true Balfour-ian fashion, he made it tense. The Rangers put the tying runs on second and third with one out, but Balfour got Ian Kinsler on a fly out that didn’t score a run, then cleanup man Adrian Beltre grounded out to third to end it.
Brett Anderson made his second relief appearance since coming off the D.L. and struck out two over 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
At the plate
Bob Melvin penciled in an all right-handed hitting lineup against Texas lefty Derek Holland, and it paid off. Oakland plated four runs (three earned) against Holland and chased him from the game in the fifth inning. That’s impressive considering Holland entered with the fifth-lowest road ERA among A.L. starters at 2.85.
Cleanup man Yoenis Cespedes lined a belt-high fastball over the wall in left-center in the second – his first homer since Aug. 16. The A’s have now homered in 15 straight games. That inning also featured a wild play in which Chris Young hit a run-scoring single to center, then was thrown out at home as he circled the bases after center fielder Leonys Martin let the ball roll past him. Young hesitated as he rounded third and that cost him.
Designated hitter Michael Choice, making his big league debut in the No. 9 spot, went 0 for 2 with a walk. He reached base in the fifth when he hit a routine grounder to third that Adrian Beltre made a wild throw on for an error.
In the field
The A’s played an errorless game in the field.
The opener of a three-game A.L. West showdown, on Labor Day afternoon, drew just 23,495 to the Coliseum.
Bartolo Colon (14-5, 2.94) makes his second start since coming off the D.L. on Tuesday against lefty Martin Perez (8-3, 3.58). Colon’s 19 career wins against Texas are tied with Bert Blyleven, Dennis Leonard and Jack Morris for the most by any pitcher. First pitch is 7:05 p.m.