OAKLAND – Two players from the A’s past combined to do some damage to their former team Monday night.
Donnie Murphy lined the go-ahead single that scored Kevin Kouzmanoff in the eighth inning and that proved the difference as the Texas Rangers dealt Oakland a 4-3 loss in the opener of a three-game series between the American League West’s top clubs.
Many A’s fans might have forgotten Murphy’s two-year stint with Oakland from 2007-08. Kouzmanoff’s name surely resonates still. He also had an RBI single in the fourth and then doubled in the eighth to set up Murphy’s run-scoring single.
With that, the Rangers took the opener of six games these teams will play over the next 10 days. It slowed the momentum of the A’s, who came in having won 11 of their past 13.
Count it as a missed opportunity on a night that Rangers ace Yu Darvish, once again, was not at his best against Oakland. The A’s left 11 men on base and went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position. Darvish went six innings, throwing 116 pitches, and took a no-decision.
Starting pitching report
It was a rough introduction to Straily’s night when Shin-Soo Choo led off the game with a home run. That was the fifth homer Straily has allowed in four starts. The A’s led 3-1 when Kevin Kouzmanoff ‘s RBI single in the fourth cut it to 3-2. But Straily should have been kicking himself most for allowing Texas’ game-tying rally in the fifth after he retired the first two batters. Consecutive singles from Elvis Andrus, Alex Rios and Prince Fielder made it 3-3. Straily exited after five innings, allowing three runs on six hits with six strikeouts and two walks.
Sean Doolittle entered in the eighth and gave up the go-ahead run. It was the rare night that the A’s bullpen was pressed into early duty. Ryan Cook, Fernando Abad and Dan Otero held the Rangers off the board over three combined innings.
At the plate
The A’s executed their game plan against Darvish. They worked his pitch count up in hopes of ending his night early. Base runners were no problem, but they stranded too many of those runners , which allowed Darvish to stick around for six innings despite issuing four walks. Oakland took the lead with three runs in the second. Brandon Moss hit a towering homer to right that seemed like it would never land – his fourth homer in 16 career at-bats against Darvish. Coco Crisp engaged Darvish in a good at-bat, and it ended in a two-run single to left that made it 3-1.
In the field
It was an adventurous top of the seventh. The A’s won a replay review on a close play at first when a Shin-Soo Choo’s infield single was overturned and he was ruled out on a bang-bang play. Josh Donaldson made a nice play on the ball after it deflected off pitcher Fernando Abad. Rangers manager Ron Washington got a double-dose of bad news when Choo hurt his ankle on the play and had to leave the game. On the next batter, center fielder Coco Crisp took a bad angle on Elvis Andrus liner but made an acrobatic leaping catch on the play. The A’s, who entered the night having committed two errors in each of the last four games, went through a full infield workout before batting practice. Manager Bob Melvin said he wants his team to get a few solid defensive games under its belt to put all talk about the accumulating errors to rest.
You’d think the series opener against the A.L. West’s top contenders would draw more than 13,297. Monday night’s
Tommy Milone (0-1, 4.09 ERA) picked up his first victory against Texas last September, but he is 1-4 with a 5.06 ERA in six career starts against the Rangers. He takes the mound in Tuesday’s 7:05 p.m. game, with right-hander Nick Martinez (0-0, 4.50) going for Texas.