OAKLAND -- A mediocre A's homestand concluded Thursday with a 6-3 loss to Texas, a clash of missed scoring opportunities and a wayward throw on a ruthless sacrifice bunt gone wrong -- prevalent themes in Oakland's first week of play.The club had its moments: a walk-off victory capped its season
OAKLAND -- A mediocre A's homestand concluded Thursday with a 6-3 loss to Texas, a clash of missed scoring opportunities and a wayward throw on a ruthless sacrifice bunt gone wrong -- prevalent themes in Oakland's first week of play.
The club had its moments: a walk-off victory capped its season opener, Sean Manaea spun a pair of gems and the offense showed intermittent signs of life. Too often, though, the A's floundered in the clutch and fumbled on defense.
"Not great," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Would've felt a lot better to finish 4-4, even though you want to play better than .500 at home. We played better the last few games, but we're going to have to do better than that."
Thursday afternoon's display, behind right-hander Daniel Mengden, was particularly uninspiring. The A's finished 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, lowering their season average in such situations to .219. Along the way, they stranded 10 on base.
Those deficiencies aided Rangers starter Martin Perez, who held them to just three runs despite allowing 10 hits and putting at least one runner on base in each of his 5 1/3 innings. The A's fared no better against Texas' bullpen, staging runners in their final three innings with no runs to show for it.
Mengden, meanwhile, gave the A's 5 1/3 innings after taking a line drive to his right heel in a messy second inning. After allowing back-to-back hits to Adrian Beltre and Nomar Mazara, Mengden took a comebacker off the bat of Rougned Odor and went to the ground in visible pain and drew a visit from a trainer. The pitcher returned to his feet and reemerged on the mound, only to see the Rangers immediately bunt on him.
Ryan Rua dropped a sacrifice bunt in front of the mound, and Mengden threw wildly to first, allowing two runs to score and putting Rua on third. He scored on a Drew Robinson single.
"I think I just need to get off the mound better, make a better throw," Mengden said. "I might've had a little more time than I thought and got rid of it quick, but it has to be better than that."
Mengden rebounded from the 27-pitch inning nicely, retiring 12 in a row before putting two men on base and departing with one out in the sixth. The A's rallied for two runs in the third on consecutive hits from Marcus Semien, Chad Pinder and Jed Lowrie, plus a Khris Davis sacrifice fly, but they came up with only one more in the sixth on a sac fly from Matt Joyce.
"Obviously, that one gets away and at the time certainly puts us in a little bit of a hole, but he certainly recovers and pitches well," Melvin said. "We would've been in some trouble having to cover that much of a game, and I thought his stuff was better after that."
The Rangers tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the ninth courtesy of a two-run homer from Shin-Soo Choo, a two-out shot off Chris Hatcher.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Mazara throws out Piscotty: With one out in the eighth, Oakland outfielder Stephen Piscotty lined one fair down the right-field line for his second hit of the day. He tried for a double, but right fielder Mazara got to the ball quickly before unleashing a perfect throw to get Piscotty at second.
"I thought he was going to make it," Melvin said. "When he hit it I thought he'd be in there, so he ends up making a nice play. But I can't second-guess him when he's rounding first and that's what he needs to do. I thought he'd be safe."
Silenced: The A's had a rally brewing in the seventh, when Pinder led off with a walk against Matt Bush and moved to third on Lowrie's third hit of the day, a single. But Davis went down on strikes, and Matt Olson suffered the same fate when lefty Jake Diekman entered the game. Matt Chapman rolled over a 3-0 pitch for an inning-ending groundout.
"Had them on the ropes and our guys that we feel good about knocking in runs, so that was a key inning for us, but we had some other opportunities too," Melvin said. "We swung the bat better the last two days but today was simply the case of not getting the big hits when we needed to."
LUCROY AT IT AGAIN
Catcher Jonathan Lucroy threw out two more baserunners Thursday, giving him five in the series. He also collected a hit, hitting safely in all three games against his former team.
The A's will kick off an eight-game road trip in Anaheim on Friday, with right-hander Daniel Gossett scheduled to start the three-game series opener at Angel Stadium. Gossett allowed four runs in as many innings in a home loss against the Angels in his season debut. First pitch is set for 7:07 p.m. PT.
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Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.