Rangers hit three HRs off Anderson, top A's 11-2


Rangers hit three HRs off Anderson, top A's 11-2

OAKLAND (AP) Michael Young rediscovered his power stroke and so did his teammates.Young hit his first home run of the season, Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli followed with back-to-back shots in the fourth, and the Texas Rangers pounded out 14 hits while beating the Oakland Athletics 11-2 on Saturday."I think we wanted to come in and have a better approach team-wise and we were able to do that today," said Young, who had two hits to raise his average to .342. "Without getting into specifics, we wanted to break down our fundamentals, make sure we were attacking pitches in the zone, having a game plan when you go to the plate and staying with it."Texas did just that against Oakland starter Brett Anderson, who hadn't allowed a home run in eight consecutive straights going back to 2010.The Rangers took advantage of an uncharacteristically wild day by Anderson and hit three homers off the A's ace before chasing him out of the game after five innings.A day after getting 11 hits - all singles - Texas had five extra-base hits off five Oakland pitchers and finished with 14 hits overall, one shy of its season-high. Every starter except Mitch Moreland had at least one hit and seven players had at least one RBI."It was the type of day that we used to have," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.Young's homer was especially nice for the Rangers. His two-run shot in the third ended a power drought that extended back to last Sept. 25.Before muscling up against Anderson, Young had managed to drive in 17 runs without a home run - the third-most by a player in the bigs since 1946.That was enough to get Colby Lewis his first victory since April 2.Lewis (2-3) allowed six hits with a season-high six strikeouts over eight innings. It was Lewis' longest outing since a complete-game win over Houston last June 19."I felt more comfortable," Lewis said. "These guys went out there and scored a lot of runs for me and I was able to get ahead of guys and throw strikes. I felt like I commanded the fastball today and that was the key."Kurt Suzuki and Josh Willingham homered for Oakland, which failed in its attempt to get above .500 for only the second time this season."It was perfect storm of everything bad," said Anderson, whose four walks matched his season total. "My stuff was bad, command was bad, just a bad day. It was almost embarrassing or even comical how bad it was."Texas regained sole possession of first place in the AL West. The Rangers held it for a week until losing to the A's on Friday and dropping into a tie with Anaheim. The Angels lost to Tampa Bay earlier Saturday, however, allowing the Rangers to move back on top of the division alone.The Rangers tagged Anderson for an early run in the first, getting some help from Oakland's shaky defense which entered the day second in the majors in errors.Lewis, who appeared in 26 games for the A's in 2007, relaxed after being staked to an early lead and cruised to the win. He retired 15 of the final 18 batters he faced following Willingham's homer in the fourth and didn't walk anyone until the eighth.Brett Tomko pitched the ninth to complete the seven-hitter for Texas.Suzuki's homer on a 2-2 pitch from Lewis in the second tied the game. Suzuki's solo shot, only his second home run of the season, came two days after the birth of the Oakland catcher's first child.Texas then chased Anderson with two runs in the third and four in the fifth when Cruz and Napoli hit their back-to-back homers. It's the first time this season the Rangers hit consecutive home runs.The A's committed their AL-leading 25th error in the ninth, which led to three unearned runs.NOTES: Texas finished with 16 wins in April, tied for third-most in club history. ... CF Coco Crisp did some running but sat out a third straight game for Oakland with tightness in his left quadriceps. ... Two-time All-Star closer Andrew Bailey (forearm strain) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Sunday and could face hitters as early as next week, according to A's manager Bob Geren. ... A crowd of 27,285 was on hand for Rickey Henderson Bobblehead Day. The Hall of Famer, who spent time with the A's as an instructor in spring training each of the past two years, also threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Several members of the Rangers requested the Henderson bobblehead dolls, too. ... Washington said he expects backup C Taylor Teagarden to play in one of the next two games. Teagarden has played in only one game since being recalled from the minors on April 20. ... Injured Texas closer Neftali Feliz, who is recovering from right shoulder inflammation, threw off the bullpen mound before the game.

A year after Chris Stratton's breakthrough, a longtime teammate is doing the same

A year after Chris Stratton's breakthrough, a longtime teammate is doing the same

SAN FRANCISCO — Six years ago, in a small town in Washington named Everett, Mac Williamson met Chris Stratton.

The power-hitting third-round pick from Wake Forest made his debut for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes on July 24. A day later, the hard-throwing first-rounder from Mississippi State made the third start of his minor league career. Both were trying to make good impressions. 

“I think he threw pretty well,” Williamson recalled Monday night. “My first at-bat was a ground-ball double play. I stumbled over first and did a couple of barrel rolls trying to beat it out because I didn’t want my first at-bat to be a double play.”

The 2012 draft picks, both of whom are 27, have come a long way since, experiencing plenty of highs but also more than their fair share of lows. Williamson was standing 50 feet away from Stratton when he was hit by a line drive during batting practice and suffered a concussion that ended his first professional season. Stratton was Williamson’s teammate in San Jose two years later when the outfielder was told his rise through the minors would be halted by Tommy John surgery. Both have in recent years become all too familiar with the stretch of highway between San Francisco and Triple-A Sacramento. 

Yet there they were Monday, six years after first meeting, once again sharing the stage. Williamson hit a two-run homer against the Nationals that brought back memories of Barry Bonds and left jaws hanging in the dugout. Stratton once again used his four-pitch mix to shut down a quality lineup, throwing 6 2/3 innings and allowing just two runs in a 4-2 win over the Nationals. 

Afterward, Stratton stood in front of a banner adorned with Giants logos and talked about his recent run of success. Williamson did the same 15 minutes later. 

“What he’s been able to do for this team this season, it’s been fun to be a part of,” Williamson said of Stratton. 

Teammates are now starting to say the same of Williamson. 

The Giants have taken three of four from playoff-caliber opponents since Williamson was recalled for yet another big league tryout. This one appears to have staying power. Williamson, in his fourth year in the big leagues, has two loud homers and five RBI in his first four starts in place of Hunter Pence, but the numbers that really stand out are the ones that have only just begun to be tracked. 

His home run in the sixth inning Monday landed a dozen rows up in right-center, a part of the park that is unforgiving for even the best left-handed power hitters. It went an estimated 464 feet, standing as the longest homer by a Giant at AT&T Park since Statcast began tracking them in 2015. It had an exit velocity of 111.5 mph.

Well, maybe. 

“It said 111. That’s BS,” first baseman Brandon Belt said. “That was one of the hardest-hit balls I’ve ever seen. That was harder than 111. For that to go to that spot with the wind and the cold, that's beyond impressive.”

There isn’t a player in the big leagues who is more familiar with the harsh conditions of Triples Alley than Belt. On a cold, windy night, like Monday, you have virtually no chance of hitting a ball out to right-center. Belt has learned that dozens of times over the years, so he took off on a dead sprint from first when Williamson made contact. Williamson did, too. He thought he might have to bust it into third for a triple. When Belt looked up, the ball was sailing into the seats. 

“I was just kind of in awe,” he said. 

Bruce Bochy wached from a stunned dugout. Later, he took a deep breath when asked about the home run.

“I just haven’t seen many balls hit there, even in BP,” he said. “That was impressive. It shows you how strong he is. It’s an area where few guys can hit the ball.”

Williamson has always had that ability, but it has been unlocked by an offseason spent overhauling his swing. He said the work is not done, and in that respect, he is once again similar to the man selected two rounds before him.

Stratton wasn't happy with his changeup and altered his grip in recent days. When Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen made defensive misplays to put runners on second and third with one out in the top of the sixth, Stratton did not turn to the fastball that seems to rise, or the curveball and slider that are darlings of the spin rate era. He threw Matt Adams three consecutive changeups to get a big strikeout. 

“A young pitcher, when you get in a jam, you have a tendency to want to go harder,” Bochy said. “But he’s got confidence in his changeup and he used it.”

Stratton was asked about that confidence level after the game. He laughed, and wondered aloud why some reporters keep asking him how confident this run of success has made him. But a few minutes later, when asked about Williamson following a similar late-career path to a breakout, he lowered his voice and smiled.

“I know it’s weird saying exactly what someone just said about the confidence thing but he just looks so confident at the plate,” Stratton said. “It’s the most comfortable I’ve seen since I’ve played with him. He believes in his approach and his new swing and that’s paid dividends for our team so far.

"He just looks really confident up there and that goes a long way.”

A's use six-run ninth to beat Rangers, move back over .500

A's use six-run ninth to beat Rangers, move back over .500


ARLINGTON -- Marcus Semien hit a tiebreaking homer on the first pitch of the ninth inning and the surging Oakland Athletics went on to their third straight victory, 9-4 over the Texas Rangers on Monday night.

The Athletics (12-11) have won seven of eight, and have a winning record for the first time since they won their season opener before a three-game losing streak.

Semien's third homer of the season, off Kevin Jepsen (0-3), snapped a 3-all tie and ignited a six-run outburst. Matt Chapman had an RBI triple with two outs, then after a pitching change scored on a single by Mark Canha before Jake Smolinski hit a two-run triple.

Ryan Buchter (1-0), the fourth of five Oakland pitchers, retired the only two batters he faced - the last out of the eighth and the first out in the ninth.

The Rangers, who are 3-11 at home this season, tied the game in the fourth when Jurickson Profar drew a two-out walk from Trevor Cahill and Robinson Chirinos followed with his third homer of the season.

Khris Davis had a two-run double in the third to put Oakland up 2-0, giving him 21 RBIs this season. Chad Pinder's RBI single an inning later made it 3-1.

Rookie second baseman Isiah Kiner-Falefa, the Rangers' No. 9 hitter, doubled in the third for their first hit and scored on a wild pitch.

Both starting pitchers allowed three runs over five innings. Rangers lefty Matt Moore, who was pulled after giving up a leadoff single in the sixth, struck out two and walked two. Cahill, who threw seven scoreless innings in his only other start this season for the A's, had six strikeouts, two walks and the wild pitch that allowed a run.

Rangers: RHP Doug Fister (right hip strain) felt good a day after throwing a bullpen and is set to come off the disabled list to start the series finale Wednesday.

Rangers lefty Cole Hamels (1-3), trying to avoid four losses by the end of April for the first time in his career, has lost four consecutive home starts - including both this season. Right-hander Andrew Triggs, with a 1.02 ERA in four career appearances against Texas, starts for the A's in the middle game of the three-game series.