ARLINGTON, Texas – The A's are a dramatically different team when Coco Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes are anchoring their lineup.
That hasn't happened much this year – just 18 times in 46 games. But the A's are 15-3 when they have both their sparkplug at the top of the order and their prime offensive piston manning the middle, and just 9-19 when they don't.
Cespedes got it going over the weekend against the Kansas City Royals, and Crisp set the tone Monday night in a 9-2 romp over the Texas Rangers. Crisp had two infield singles and a double, a walk, a run, an RBI groundout, a stolen base and his usual stellar defense in center field.
With the score 1-1, Cespedes had a laser-like double in the fifth that scored Crisp with the go-ahead run, and Oakland scored three more times in the inning.
"Those are our two keys offensively," said manager Bob Melvin, whose team is 4-1 since Crisp and Cespedes have been back in the batting order together. "Everybody just feels good when they're in the lineup. You don't make excuses for injuries; you still have to play through it. But when we're playing our best baseball, those two guys are at the forefront."
Despite coming up empty with the bases loaded twice and stranding 15 runners, the A's finished with 15 hits in the opener of a six-game trip. Seth Smith had two hits, including his first homer in May, a leadoff drive in the second..
Oakland provided plenty of support for Bartolo Colon (4-2), who gave up two runs over seven innings to extend his mastery over Texas. He has won six straight at Rangers Ballpark and is 14-2 over his last 18 starts against the Rangers.
"I've always pitched good here," Colon said through interpreter Ariel Prieto. "But I don't know why."
Some things are best left unexplained. Despite walking two in a start for the first time this year, Colon was his usual strike-throwing machine. And while he said he mixed pitches more often than usual, he still threw mostly fastballs.