The A’s have faced the best of the Texas Rangers’ starting pitchers over the past two days and made quick work of both.
The result is two convincing victories that have reversed the storyline from last week’s series between these teams in Oakland. The A’s cooled off left-hander Martin Perez and coasted to a 9-3 victory Tuesday at Rangers Ballpark to take the first two of this three-game series.
Perez, who came in riding a 26-inning scoreless streak, was charged with eight earned runs over just 4 2/3 innings. It came one night after the A’s chased Rangers ace Yu Darvish after 3 1/3 innings. That’s quite the turnaround from just a week ago, when the Rangers swept a three-game set at the Coliseum.
The A’s struck quickly against Perez in the first and then scored five in the fifth to turn a 4-1 game into 9-1.
Derek Norris and Josh Reddick each drove in three runs to pace the A’s, who opened up a two-game lead over Texas for first place in the American League West.
Starting pitching report
Scott Kazmir may not have been in top form, but he didn’t have to be as he moved to 4-0 on the season. The lefty turned in five innings and allowed three runs, two of them coming after the A’s were already leading 9-1. Kazmir gave up seven hits and struck out four with one walk, and he’s impressed with the control he’s displayed in the early going of 2014. Aside from a four-walk outing in his second start of the season, Kazmir has issued just three free passes over his five other starts.
Ryan Cook, Fernando Abad and Sean Doolittle provided stellar relief to make sure Texas wouldn’t gain hope of making a comeback.
At the plate
Perez was coming off two consecutive shutouts, including a three-hitter against Oakland last Wednesday. But the A’s never let the lefty find a groove, putting up two quick runs in the first. Coco Crisp led off the game with a double, and after a Yoenis Cespedes walk, Derek Norris delivered a two-run double just past the diving attempt of center fielder Leonys Martin. Norris did more two-out damage in the third with another double, this one scoring Cespedes to make it 4-0. It continued a torrid stretch for Norris in which he’s 13 for 27 over his last nine games.
The A’s broke things open with a five-run fifth, chasing Perez from the game and forcing Rangers manager Ron Washington to call on his bullpen early. Perez forced in a run with a bases-loaded walk to Alberto Callaspo, his final batter, to make it 5-1. Brandon Moss entered to pinch-hit for Craig Gentry against Jason Frasor and worked an eight-pitch at-bat that resulted in another bases-loaded walk. Josh Reddick followed with a two-run single and Moss came home on a wild pitch to cap the five-run rally and make it 9-1.
This one was, for all intents and purposes, was over.
In the field
It appeared that Martin might have a bead on Norris’ first-inning double. But he couldn’t come up with the grab, the A’s scored two runs and they were off to the races.
The A’s have won all five times that Jesse Chavez (1-0, 2.32) has taken the mound this season. He’ll oppose Robbie Ross (1-1, 2.45) in Wednesday’s 5:05 p.m. series finale.