A’s obliterate Rangers in ninth

All of the hard-hit balls for outs and men left on base became a distant memory as the Oakland Athletics ripped Monday night’s game open with a six-run ninth inning to take the series opener over host Texas Rangers, 9-4.

Marcus Semien’s go-ahead blast to lead off the top of the ninth opened the floodgates and turned the series opener into a laugher. The A’s picked up the win to get over .500 past the opening two weeks of the season for the first time since 2014.

Semien’s blast off of Kevin Jepsen was the first of four runs allowed by the well-traveled reliever. A Matt Chapman triple made it 5-3 and chased Jepsen, who was charged with two more runs that Jesse Chavez inherited. Mark Canha singled to make it a three-run lead, and Jake Smolinski tripled against his former team to bring home two more runs for his first RBI since 2016. Another former Ranger, Jonathan Lucroy, brought in the ninth run.

Both Trevor Cahill and Rangers starter Matt Moore allowed three runs over five innings, and the bullpens held things together until the ninth. Ryan Buchter got the final out of the eighth and was credited with his first win as a member of the Athletics. Jose Leclerc, the first reliever for Texas (8-16), pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings, while Yusmeiro Petit recorded five outs for Oakland (12-11).

The A’s took a 2-0 lead on a Khris Davis double in the top of the third, but Texas got a run back in the bottom half of the inning on a pair of Cahill wild pitches. Chad Pinder knocked in Canha in the top of the fourth, but Robinson Chirinos tied the game in the bottom half with a homer, which was the final scoring until the ninth.

Had the A’s lost, leaving the bases loaded in the seventh and failing to score after getting two men on to start the eighth would have been major sources of regret. They left nine men on base in the first eight innings, but managed to keep the game tied thanks to Petit, Buchter and Ryan Dull, who pitched a perfect sixth.

Chris Hatcher allowed back-to-back doubles in the ninth, spoiling what had otherwise been a spotless night for the Oakland bullpen. Hatcher’s ERA now sits at 11.37.

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