The Oakland Athletics have made a nasty habit out of giving up big leads, particularly in Sunday games on the road.
They had already lost four Sunday road games in which they had multi-run leads in the eighth inning or later, including one on April 14 against the Texas Rangers, who they faced once again this Sunday, in Arlington.
The pattern nearly continued once again, as the A’s got out to an early 8-0 lead but had to fight off a late comeback by their hosts, escaping with a 9-8 victory. The A’s survived this time despite letting the potential tying run get into scoring position and letting the potential winning run on base on the ninth.
Leading 8-3 into the eighth inning, Lou Trivino gave up three runs, the last of which game on a straight steal of home by Rougned Odor. Oakland (33-33) got a huge insurance run off Jose Leclerc in the top of the ninth as Khris Davis knocked Josh Phegley in with a two-out RBI single, and the run proved to be critical in the bottom half of the frame as Blake Treinen, too, found himself in hot water.
Just as the Rangers had started their eighth-inning rally with a one-out infield single, they would do so again in the ninth as Marcus Semien had no play on Elvis Andrus’ grounder to the hole. Nomar Mazara singled to put men on the corners, and though Treinen struck out Hunter Pence for the second out of the inning, Asdrubal Cabrera singled to score Andrus and advance Mazara to third. Mazara then scored on a passed ball that advanced pinch-runner Delino DeShields to second, and Odor walked to put the winning run on base. Treinen then hung a cutter over the heart of the plate to Ronald Guzman, but he lined it right to Ramon Laureano in center field to allow the A’s to escape.
That Oakland needed to escape at all would have been far-fetched in the early innings, as the A’s tagged Drew Smyly, getting a two-run homer from Matt Olson in the top of the second and adding another run on a Phegley sac fly, an out that snapped a streak of four consecutive hits, but still scored another run. Davis hit his obligatory homer against the Rangers in the top of the third, barely clearing the wall in left to make it 5-0 with a two-run blast. He’s now hit 17 home runs at the stadium formerly known as The Ballpark in Arlington, the most he’s hit in a stadium that’s not been his home park in his career. His .305 batting average in Arlington is his third highest among all parks.
The fun continued for the visitors in the fourth, as reliever Shelby Miller was no more effective than Smyly, allowing a two-run double to Semien, who then scored on a Mark Canha sac fly.
Even with reliever Peter Fairbanks pitching two excellent innings in his Major League debut for Texas (34-30), and even with the Rangers scoring two runs in the fourth thanks to a pair of A’s errors, things still looked awfully good for Oakland.
A Cabrera solo homer in the sixth cut the lead to five, but Frankie Montas finished the inning by fanning Tim Federowicz for his career-high 10th strikeout. Yusmeiro Petit took care of the seventh, and the two scoreless innings that Brett Martin pitched for the hosts looked huge in the eighth after Trivino let in three. Pence reached on a one-out infield hit, then scored on a Cabrera RBI double. Odor followed with an RBI double of his own, then advanced to third on a Guzman infield hit. Trivino struck out pinch-hitter Logan Forsythe, but when Ryan Buchter came in to face Shin-Soo Choo, Odor stole home. Choo did ground out to end the inning, but Treinen still had to wiggle his way through the ninth to secure a series split.