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Live Blogging: Rangers @ A’s Game 120

August 14, 2011

4:42PM PDT: On a full count Josh Willingham pops out to Mike Napoli (now playing first) at the 15 yard line in foul ground. Rangers win. Frustrating to come back like that and then throw away all that work. Craig Gentry steal was a huge play. The A’s get swept. Not much good to say about this one – Rich Harden looked flat, defense still was less than top-notch, one real bright spot was the play of Brandon Allen who went 3-for-4 with a double and perhaps this hitting off a LHP will yield him more opportunities from Bob Melvin regardless of the handedness of the pitchers in upcoming games. A’s drop to 53-67, 15 1/2 behind the division leading Rangers. With the Mariners beating the Red Sox at Safeco Field today, the A’s are now just one half game ahead of them to keep out of the AL West cellar.

4:32PM PDT: Neftali Feliz comes in to face the A’s 2-3-4 hitters (Crisp, Matsui, Willingham) and collect the save. Feliz has had a rough sophomore campaign, with a 3.40 ERA and 4.16 FIP. His K/9 rate (6.6)  is down from last year (9.2) and his BB/9 (4.4) is up from his Rookie of the Year award season (2.3). He has been worth 0.2 WAR and has managed 17 shutdowns with seven meltdowns, so not a terrible person to try and launch a comeback off of.

4:27PM PDT: Gentry scores from second base on a David Murphy single up the middle. Rangers take a late 7-6 lead. That stolen base was big.

4:26PM PDT: Craig Gentry – pinch-hitting for Mitch Moreland on base with a walk – steals second. Big play there.

4:19PM PDT: 1-2-3 inning for Adams and it is Bailey who comes in to pitch the ninth for the A’s. Enters today’s game with fourteen shutdowns and just three meltdowns. He is having a good year, though his ERA/FIP/xFIP splits are wide (1.85/2.43/3.43). He never has been one to give up many home runs however (career HR/FB mark of 5.0% and a 0.5 HR/9 career mark) and this year he is lower but not wildly so at 3.2% HR/FB and 0.4 HR/9, so I think the 2.43 FIP mark is the most reflective of his talent level this year. He faces the 6-7-8 hitters. There was some debate last week on my AthleticsNation recap last week about whether or not to use your best pitcher in a situation like this (though it varies as this time at home the option of the closer getting the save is out the window, perhaps thereby eliminating all controversy for some) and one suggestion made was that you should have your best pitcher face their best hitters. Clearly 6-7-8 isn’t their best, but I can’t imagine going with another pitcher here and feeling confident about keeping this game knotted up.

4:13PM PDT: Mike Adams comes in to pitch for Texas and first batter Brandon Allen flies out to the 40-yard line. He has yet to get a hit versus a righty as an Athletic and yet to get out versus a lefty. This is Adams’ eighth appearance since coming over from the Padres in a deadline deal. The Padres received two well-regarded Rangers pitching prospects in Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland. Adam’s ERA is similar with the Rangers (1.23) as it was with the Padres (1.13) but the FIP is a different story as he had a strong 2.07 FIP with San Diego yet holds a 4.10 mark since coming to the Rangers.

4:02PM PDT: Balfour still out for the top of the eighth after getting Kinsler to end the seventh. Balfour is after-all “the eighth inning guy”, though in all seriousness, I do hope we see Andrew Bailey in the ninth inning. It’ll be interesting to see how Melvin views his bullpen. If this game goes into extras we should get a vis-a-vis ranking of everyone left.

3:47PM PDT: Torrealba – the lone-right-handed hitter gets on with a walk, and Melvin decides to have Grant Balfour enter the game to face Kinsler. I am totally fine with this usage – just how I would have done it.

3:43PM PDT: A’s have a new pitcher, Brian Fuentes. Fuentes was used properly yesterday so it will be interesting to see how he is used today. First hitter due up is Moreland (L) then Torrealba (R) and Murphy (L). I’m alright with this usage if it is limited to these three hitters.

3:35PM PDT: Oliver not a fan of Matsui. Matsui hit a game-winning home run off him earlier this year and now, ties the game at six with a single that scores Pennington! No decisions for either starter. Oliver hits the showers – new pitcher is Yoshinori Tateyama.

3:31PM PDT: Base hit for Weeks scores Allen and makes it 6-5. Screw the splits today!

3:27PM PDT: Harrison’s day is done. Darren Oliver comes in to turn around Jemile Weeks. Weeks is hitting .231/.232/.293 as a right-handed hitter coming into today’s game (he has three plate appearances as a right-handed hitter versus a right-handed pitcher).

3:24PM PDT: Harrison balks and Allen waltzes to third. That was a pretty obvious quick pitch there. I admit that sometimes a balk can be tough to pick up, but this one was a no-brainer.

3:20PM PDT: Brandon Allen with an opposite field double to left 3-for-3 now off the lefty Matt Harrison poking that one over the head of left-fielder David Murphy. Suzuki doesn’t really look like he beat the throw, it was a very good throw that appears to have beat him. The A’s catch a break, Rangers 6, A’s 4.

3:19PM PDT: Bloop single for Kurt Suzuki into right field scores Sizemore from second. A’s cut the lead to 6-3.

3:14PM PDT: The Fiesta dancers to blame? Harrison soft tosses his warmups (to avoid inadvertantly hitting one of the dancers I’m guessing) and Scott Sizemore promptly doubles it down the right-field line on the first pitch of the bottom half of the sixth.

3:11PM PDT: Nice outing so far for Billings, not sure how long Bob Melvin intends on using him. He got burned big time by the DeJesus error, but he has thrown two innings, walking one, K’ing two, while allowing two hits and the two unearned runs. Not a terrible debut.

3:00PM PDT: Luck runs two ways, with two outs for Oakland and Godzilla up, Kinsler let’s a inning-ending groundout roll through his legs and the two-runs that DeJesus gave up on an error on a hit by Kinsler, are given back to the A’s as both Allen and Cliff Pennington score to make it 6-2.

2:53PM PDT: Brandon Allen is 2-for-2 off of the lefty Matt Harrison. Perhaps he has a Matsui-like reverse platoon in him? (So far not the case mind you, coming into today: .088/.244/.118 against southpaws).

2:48PM PDT: Kinsler with a routiniest of routine fly balls to right field, and DeJesus boots it. Instead of inning over – two runs score (really amazing baserunning by David Murphy to not loaf it out there – he scores all the way from first – again great display of the sense of urgency they play with, compared to the lack of focus we play with). While Murphy really showed a lot on that play running hard and scoring, Kinsler he flipped his bat upset with himself only got to first. The two runs scoring make it a 6-0 deficit for the MLB leaders in errors. Pathetic. What a terrible weekend this has been.

2:41PM PDT: Welcome to Oakland Bruce Billings! Mike Napoli promptly gets a lead off double off the right-hander making is debut with Oakland. He has one other MLB game to his resume a two-inning outing this past May 27th versus the Cardinals at Coors Field when he was a member of the Rockies.

2:27PM PDT: Full count and Harden issues a bases loaded walk to Young and Yorvit Torrealba scores. Rangers 4, A’s 0. Almost out of it, Harden K’d Andrus and got Hamilton to pop out into foul ground by third base. He got Young down 1-2 but then Harden chose to go all changeup and it didn’t work and he walks home a run. Harden is now up to 95 pitches, I can’t imagine he is out there much longer and would be shocked if we see him at all in the top half of the fifth.

2:24PM PDT: Scott Sizemore‘s inexperience at third showed itself there. Instead of taking charge and getting down to that ball, he left it for Harden, so the bunt results in a hit for Ian Kinsler. Bases are loaded for the Rangers with nobody out. I am pretty certain unlike Oakland they will not be squandering this run scoring opportunity when they have their best hitters due up. Bruce Billings is now throwing in the A’s bullpen.

2:19PM PDT: Josh Willingham K’s to end the inning. Prior to that with Matsui up, he flew out to center field but shallow enough that Allen didn’t want to test Hamilton’s arm in left. Right decision as Hamilton fired a strike to Napoli behind the plate. A’s get nothing out of the inning, completely unacceptable for a “professional” baseball team.

2:15PM PDT: Bad throw from Andrus, his twenty-third error of the year and Coco gets on and loads the bases for Hideki Matsui. The A’s have to score here to stay in this game. Anything short of a run is unacceptable.

2:06PM PDT: Brandon Allen has his first hit in the green and gold, a single off of Matt Harrison. So much for that concern yesterday about the lefty Allen facing the lefty Darren Oliver.

2:01PM PDT: Ron Washington has Nelson Cruz running and he swipes second. This game is really impressing upon me the difference urgency between contender and non-contender. Plays like this show the difference in seriousness and purpose in how the teams play.

1:41PM PDT: Elvis Andrus doubles into the corner, Harden not looking his greatest still here in the second.

1:29PM PDT: 38 pitch, 23 strike first inning as Rich Harden faces eight of the nine Rangers in the lineup in the first. Inefficient with his pitches, the Rangers really made him work and tagged him for three runs. Real professional hitters for this Rangers team.

1:26PM PDT: Mitch Moreland sac fly scores Michael Young. Texas now up 3-0 in the first. Harden had Moreland down 0-2 couldn’t finish him off and get the needed K.

1:23PM PDT: With the bases loaded for Mike Napoli he draws a walk to score Hamilton from third. Rangers 2-0. The Rangers are lawyerballing it. Ron Romanick heads out to talk to Harden. The differences between a contender and “out of it” team are stark today, the Rangers are being aggressive on the basepaths while we are laissez-faire, they don’t swing at bad pitches and make our pitchers work, just a really clear difference already with this game mere minutes old.

1:16PM PDT: Wild pitch and Kinsler scores. Texas 1, Oakland 0.

1:14PM PDT: Aggressive running from Kinsler as he gets to third on a single to right by Josh Hamilton. David DeJesus was napping a bit as Kinsler peaked back and was able to advance the extra base despite DeJesus possessing a cannon in right. Heads up base playing by Texas, more lackluster play from the Athletics.

1:11PM PDT: First hitter of the game is Ian Kinsler and Harden hits him. Inauspicious start to the afternoon.

1:08PM PDT: The A’s and Rangers end their three game set this afternoon at the Coliseum. Pitching matchup puts Rich Harden up for the A’s against left-hander Matt Harrison for the Rangers. This is Harrison’s 23rd start of 2011, during which he has a great 3.06 ERA, with a slightly higher 3.78 FIP as the owner of some unimpressive peripherals (5.8 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9) all adding up to a 2.4 WAR year. Harden had a great outing his last time out in Toronto, yet he still has a high ERA (4.07) and higher FIP (4.41) as the long balls have been a big problem (1.7 HR/9 and 14.0% HR/FB). Lineup for the A’s is a bit different, most notably, Coco Crisp has returned and will hit second. Great seeing him back in the lineup as I was worried the A’s were playing short-handed for so long and that it’d inevitably turn into a retroactive disabled list situation after playing short-handed longer than needed. Despite the left-handed pitcher, Brandon Allen finds himself in the lineup as Conor Jackson was a late-scratch with a stiff neck. Scott Sizemore meanwhile hits fifth today with the southpaw on the hill.

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