Carlos Gomez worked a 10-pitch at-bat that ended with him drilling a single to left to start the game, Elvis Andrus followed with a single, and Nomar Mazara doubled, and I could probably stop this report by noting that, 20 pitches into the game, the Rangers had piled up as many base hits — before wunderkind righty Jharel Cotton had so much as recorded an out — as Oakland would tally in the entire game.
Seven innings later, Texas was up by five runs and Jeremy Jeffress was summoned — for the seventh time in nine games — with two on and two out, and on his second pitch he got pinch-hitter Jaff Decker to roll out harmlessly to shortstop.
I was irritated at how big that out felt, in the bottom of the eighth in a 5–0 game, but sports-PTSD can be unrelenting.
It was A.J. Griffin’s first time to pitch in Oakland since the 24 times he started there in an A’s uniform in 2012–13, and he was tremendous, improving his career mark in that building to 11–4, 3.31 (.215/.272/.352) as he fired 15 first-pitch strikes — and 18 last-pitch strikes — to the 19 A’s he faced, fanning eight and walking one (his first batter faced) and yielding just one hit, a third-inning double that was sandwiched by three swinging strikeouts, the first of which was of Khris Davis, who recorded fewer home runs Monday night than Texas recorded wins, always a welcome result.
Griffin threw 91 pitches over six innings and I wanted to see him go out for the seventh, but instead Alex Claudio came on and managed to retire Oakland on just two strikes — groundout, four-pitch walk, double play groundout — just another moment from Texas 7, Oakland 0 that felt a little strange.
Like Texas keeping the nine-hole hitter off base all night (strikeout, strikeout, groundout), the pitching staff throwing ball one just eight times, the struggling Gomez and Mike Napoli coming up with big at-bats, Keone Kela being only the second Rangers reliever to record a clean ninth in a win, Jurickson Profar getting a fantastic read on a tough ball in left field and making an outstanding (and decisive) play, and Rangers pitchers facing the same number of A’s over the minimum as the number of Rangers hitters who reached safely in the game’s first three at-bats.