Athletics

A's hit three homers, but get swept after allowing four late runs

A's hit three homers, but get swept after allowing four late runs

BOX SCORE

ARLINGTON, Texas -- A sweeping comeback for the Texas Rangers, who suddenly have the longest winning streak in the major leagues.

Nomar Mazara had the tiebreaking RBI single, the second game in a row he had the go-ahead hit in the seventh inning, and the Rangers wrapped up a week filled with comebacks in a 6-4 win over Oakland on Sunday.

"We're seeing some results now," Mazara said after the three-game sweep of the Athletics that gave the Rangers six wins in a row.

"We believe everything is back on track," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "We knew as a team we weren't playing the way we know how we know we can play."

Mazara's two-out single that made it 5-4 came right after Andrus' tying RBI double, both off reliever Ryan Madson (0-3).

Since coming home after an 11-0 win at San Diego last Tuesday, the Rangers have come from behind to win their last five games. That included game-ending three-run homers Thursday and Friday before Andrus and Mazara had consecutive two-RBI hits in the seventh inning Saturday night against the A's.

"Anytime you put wins together, there's a lot of momentum. There's a lot of feel-good," manager Jeff Banister said. "We knew that this offense would get going at some point."

Carlos Gomez had three hits, including a single to start the seventh, but left the game with a right hamstring strain after scoring from second base on Delino DeShields' two-out infield single that chased Oakland starter Kendall Graveman.

DeShields hit a slicing chopper that third baseman Trevor Plouffe fielded near the line with Gomez running in front of him. The speedy DeShields beat the throw to first, and Gomez kept running and scored when he lunged toward the plate while also avoiding a bat still on the ground.

"I was going full speed and I didn't want to try to slide because I thought I could get hurt and I accelerated again," said Gomez, who will have an MRI on Monday, an off day at home for the Rangers.

Dario Alvarez (2-0) got the final outs of the seventh for the Rangers. Sam Dyson pitched the eighth before Matt Bush worked the ninth for his fourth save in five chances.

Plouffe, Adam Rosales and Matt Joyce all homered for the A's, who have gone deep 16 times their last eight games.

Joyce hit a two-run homer in the fifth off Rangers starter A.J. Griffin for a 4-2 lead. That came after Rosales led off with a shot that just cleared the 14-foot wall in left field and Rajai Davis then doubled.

"It's frustrating that for roughly two-thirds of the game we had the upper hand on it and then we lose it," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We feel good about all our guys in our bullpen. Kendall pitched for us today, it just got away from us again at the end."

NOT ANOTHER NO-NO BID

The Rangers were held hitless by Graveman on April 8 until Mike Napoli's homer with two outs in the seventh inning. This time, DeShields, Andrus and Mazara had consecutive singles to start the first, when Texas quickly went ahead 2-0. "The good news for me is bounce back after the first," Graveman said. "I didn't lose my composure."

LESS SUPPORT

Rangers starter A.J. Griffin trailed 4-2 when he left the game in the sixth, after allowing all three homers. He was coming off a four-hit shutout in his hometown of San Diego in his last start, the first win in the Rangers streak. This was the first time in Griffin's six starts this season that he got fewer than five runs from the offense while pitching.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Athletics: Melvin said RHP Daniel Mengden, out all season recovering from right foot surgery, is getting the kinks out but has good velocity and feels good in his rehab assignment with Triple-A Nashville. ... RHP John Axford (strained right shoulder) is expected to get at least one more rehab appearance. He could rejoin the A's sometime soon after they get home Thursday.

Rangers: RF/DH Shin-Soo Choo had spasms in his lower back and was scratched from the lineup.

UP NEXT

Athletics: Sean Manaea (1-2) is set to come off the disabled list to start Monday night at Seattle.

Rangers: After a day off Monday, the Rangers open a three-game series at home Tuesday with Yu Darvish (3-2) facing the Philadelphia Phillies.

Five free agent starting pitchers still available for A's to target

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USATSI

Five free agent starting pitchers still available for A's to target

It's no secret the A's could use some starting pitching help.

The problem became more dire this week when the team announced talented left-hander Jesús Luzardo would be shut down for four to six weeks with a rotator cuff strain.

Though the season is already underway, there are still several starting pitchers available on the free agent market. Former Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel tops the list, but don't expect the A's to throw massive money his way.

Instead, Oakland may choose to pursue one of these five starters:

Edwin Jackson

Jackson certainly makes the most sense of anyone. The 35-year-old right-hander was the most pleasant of surprises last season. Jackson went 6-3 with a 3.33 ERA in 17 starts and was a key part of the A's clubhouse chemistry.

The two sides have been in contact for much of the offseason but have not been able to come to terms on a deal. That could change now that Jackson and the A's both figure to be a little more desperate.

James Shields 

At the age of 37, Shields is obviously nearing the end of his career, but he figures to get a shot somewhere in the league. The former All-Star went just 7-16 with a 4.53 ERA last season with the White Sox but did pitch over 200 innings.

Shields has a career ERA of 4.01 in 13 seasons. The right-hander would likely fair better on a team like Oakland, especially playing his home games at the pitcher-friendly Coliseum.

Miguel González

González is coming off season-ending rotator cuff surgery, but at just 34 years old he has a chance to bounce back. The right-hander went 8-13 with a 4.62 ERA in 2017, his last full season, but recorded a solid 3.73 ERA the year before.

González has a career ERA of 4.06 in seven major league seasons and could be another pitcher who would benefit from the Coliseum. He will be available for cheap, making him a low-risk signing.

Yovani Gallardo

Gallardo has struggled the past few seasons, but at just 33 years old, he still has time to regain his form. The right-hander has a career ERA of 4.06 in 12 big league seasons.

Gallardo's last productive season came in 2015 with the Texas Rangers. The former All-Star finished that year 13-11 with a 3.42 ERA. Like González, he should be available for a low cost.

[RELATED: A's have options at first base after Olson injury]

Bartolo Colón

Yes, Big Sexy is still going strong at the age of 45. You've got to think someone will take a flier on the former Cy Young Award winner, who will be entering his 22nd major league season.

Colón has 247 career wins and a 4.12 ERA, though he struggled to a 5.78 ERA last season in Texas. But three years ago, the right-hander went 15-8 with a 3.43 ERA and made his fourth career All-Star Game.
 

What Matt Olson injury means for A's offense, defense at first base

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AP/USATSI

What Matt Olson injury means for A's offense, defense at first base

The A's fears became a reality Friday when Gold Glove first baseman Matt Olson had to undergo surgery on his right hand.

No timetable has been provided for Olson's return, but a 2018 article in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine which studied similar procedures suggests he will likely miss three to seven weeks.

This is obviously a huge loss for Oakland. Beyond Olson's terrific defense, the 24-year-old provided tremendous power in the middle of the lineup.

Last season, Olson slashed .247/.335/.453 with 29 home runs and 84 RBI. That production won't be easy to replace, but the A's do have some reasonable options.

Platoon players Mark Canha and Chad Pinder can both play first base, and carry plenty of power in their bats. Canha clubbed 17 home runs and 22 doubles last year in just 365 at-bats. Pinder, meanwhile, hit 28 homers in 580 at-bats over the last two seasons.

Another option for the A's is to move Jurickson Profar to first base -- where he played 24 games last year -- and start Franklin Barreto at second. Barreto is coming off a terrific spring, hitting .375 (12-for-32) with a home run, four doubles, three RBI, five walks, and eight runs scored.

Barreto now has a great chance to make the 25-man roster in Olson's place. The 23-year-old has long been considered one of the A's top prospects, but has never had a chance to get consistent playing time in the big leagues. Oakland moved him from second base to the outfield this spring, but now a return to second makes sense.

[RELATED: Can A's regroup after rough beginning to season?]

The A's are fortunate to have enough offensive depth to survive the loss of Olson, but the biggest impact will likely show up on defense. Olson's height and scooping ability at first base will be incredibly hard to replace.

Nonetheless, Oakland showed the ability to overcome injury adversity last season. The A's just have to do it again this year.