OAKLAND -- In the sixth inning Monday night, Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus hit a line drive to center field that looked like it would go for a leadoff single. Only Andrus didn’t stop at first base as Coco Crisp jogged up to field the ball.
Never slowing down, the speedy Andrus motored to second base ahead of Crisp’s hurried throw for an all-hustle leadoff double. He then tagged up on a flyout and scored on a foul ball that third baseman Josh Donaldson caught near the A’s bullpen. It gave the Rangers an 11-3 lead at the time.
While the A’s did make things interesting briefly in the later innings, most of the night followed that kind of tone. The A’s, who have usually been on the good side of blowouts this season while building the majors’ best run differential, allowed a season-high 16 hits and committed three errors in a 14-8 loss to the Rangers.
The 14 runs were the most the A’s have allowed since Aug. 25, 2011, when they lost 22-9 to the New York Yankees. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, this game came on the heels of a weekend series against the Yankees in which all three games at the Coliseum were sold out and the energy level soared with Derek Jeter making his regular-season exit from Oakland.
Monday night, the A’s announced a crowd of 12,412 for a game that went 3 hours and 41 minutes, and featured an A’s team that at times looked to be searching for energy. They jumped out to a 2-0 lead four batters into the bottom of the first, but left the bases loaded with two outs in the second and didn’t score again until the fifth. By then, the Rangers had taken a 10-2 lead.
"We had some opportunities early and didn’t come through," manager Bob Melvin said. "And then we didn’t play a very good game after that. In the later innings we came back and made a game of it, just not far enough."
Andrus’ manufactured run gave the Rangers an eight-run lead with two outs in the top of the fifth. Remarkably, the A’s managed to bring the tying run to the plate with one out in the bottom of the seventh. But with two on and one out in an 11-8 game, Neil Cotts got Coco Crisp to pop out and struck out Kyle Blanks looking on a full-count pitch, stranding Yoenis Cespedes, who had hit a three-run homer an inning earlier, in the on-deck circle.
The Rangers added on from there to hand the A’s their second loss by six or more runs in the last four days. The A’s had entered Monday’s game having outscored opponents this season by a total of 132 runs, more than double the second-best run differential in MLB (the Giants, at plus-54).
"Those things tend to even out a little bit," Melvin said. "Our strength is being able to get to the bullpen earlier in games. And that’s happened to us a couple times."
The A’s did knock Rangers starter Colby Lewis out of the game in the sixth, tapping the right-hander for five runs on 10 hits and making him throw 108 pitches. But it was too little, too late.
* Lewis fared better than A’s starter Drew Pomeranz, who had his roughest outing since joining the starting rotation. Pomeranz, who had allowed more than two runs in just one of his previous seven starts, gave up eight runs (seven earned) on eight hits and couldn’t get out of the fourth inning, when Texas scored six times.
"Just not as good tonight," Melvin said. "Probably location more than anything. Wasn’t hitting the glove like we’ve seen before and just had a rough outing."
Pomeranz needed 46 pitches to get through the first two innings, despite only giving up two runs on a Robinson Chirinos single in the second. In the fourth, he allowed a two-run homer to Donnie Murphy, then two more singles and two walks before being replaced by Ryan Cook, who promptly surrendered a two-run double to Adrian Beltre.
Chirinos’ two-run hit came in a 2-2 count, and Daniel Robertson hit an RBI single in the fourth on an 0-2 fastball. Pomeranz said he was working with "a lot of bad counts," and that when he did get to two strikes Monday night, he left too many pitches over the plate.
"Something that I usually struggle with is being in a bad count. Once you start getting predictable, it gets a little harder to pitch that way," Pomeranz said.
"They were patient at the plate. (They) just waited for a mistake and hit my mistakes."
The seven earned runs allowed matched Pomeranz’s career high, set back when he was consistently struggling as a starter in Colorado. So far with the A’s he’s had more good outings than bad, and he didn’t come off as overly concerned Monday night.
"This year I’ve had a pretty good streak of things going my way," he said. "Things didn’t go my way tonight. It’s baseball, it happens sometimes, just try to move past it and focus on the next one."
* Obviously it wasn’t a banner night for the A’s pitching staff as a whole. Cook allowed the two runners he inherited from Pomeranz to score, then gave up two more in the fifth on Michael Choice’s homer to center. It’s the third time in six outings since coming off the DL on June 3 that Cook has allowed at least one run, and he has given up five earned runs in 4 1/3 innings in that time.
Melvin said Cook’s "velocity has been pretty good, slider’s been sharp at times. He’s just missing his spots, getting behind, not throwing enough strikes to be able to use his breaking stuff effectively."
Inherited runners also continue to be an issue for Cook. Last season, Cook allowed 15 of 30 inherited runners to score, a 50-percent mark that led the majors. With the two in this game, he has now allowed five of eight to score this season.
Fernando Abad also allowed his first extra-base hit all season in the ninth inning, when Murphy hit a leadoff homer just over the right-field fence. Abad then promptly gave up his second as Chirinos made it back-to-back homers.
* Incidentally, it was the second time this season the Rangers have hit back-to-back home runs. The first time they did so was April 15, and the players who hit them were Prince Fielder and Kevin Kouzmanoff.
Neither of those guys was in the Rangers’ lineup on Monday night. They’re part of a DL list that makes the Rangers look like a walking MASH unit. And yet with the 14-run outburst Monday, Texas pulled back to .500 at 35-35 and isn’t going away in the West.
* One bright spot for the A’s: Alberto Callaspo returned to the lineup after missing three games on paternity leave and collected four hits, including an RBI single in the seventh. The four hits matched Callaspo’s career high, the fourth time he’s done it in a game.
John Jaso also singled in the first inning, driving in Coco Crisp, who had doubled, and in doing so snapped an 0-for-21 streak. It had been the longest hitless streak of his career.
* Callaspo, though, also committed one of the A’s three errors, booting a ground ball in the eighth with the infield in that might have resulted in a play at the plate had he fielded it cleanly.
The other errors went to Jed Lowrie and Josh Donaldson, both trying to make exchanges to their throwing hand on balls they had fielded cleanly. The A’s now have 11 errors in their last seven games and have 52 on the season, third-most in the American League.
Donaldson’s error was his 14th, which leads all A.L. players. Lowrie’s eight is tied for the fourth-most among A.L. shortstops.
* Texas will throw ace Yu Darvish in game two of the series Tuesday. For most opposing teams, that’s really bad news. For the A’s, it hasn’t been as daunting. Darvish, who has a 2.11 ERA that ranks third in the A.L. and is averaging a league-best 10.7 strikeouts per 9 innings, is 0-7 with a 5.32 ERA in his last eight starts against the A’s.
Considering only one other team has handed Darvish more than two losses in his career (Seattle, against which he’s 3-3), that’s pretty remarkable. Darvish also has a career ERA of 7.71 ERA at the Coliseum. He’ll face A’s left-hander Tommy Milone (4-3, 3.47) on Tuesday. First pitch at 7:05 p.m.