OAKLAND -- The A's shook off early clutch-hitting woes and got a two-run double from Jed Lowrie in the seventh inning to break a tie and claim a 3-1 series-opening victory over the Rangers at the Coliseum on Monday night.Oakland was 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position when Lowrie stepped
OAKLAND -- The A's shook off early clutch-hitting woes and got a two-run double from Jed Lowrie in the seventh inning to break a tie and claim a 3-1 series-opening victory over the Rangers at the Coliseum on Monday night.
Oakland was 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position when Lowrie stepped to the plate against left-handed reliever Jake Diekman, who was called upon after Kevin Jepsen surrendered a double to Jonathan Lucroy and issued a two-out walk to Marcus Semien. The switch-hitting Lowrie pounced on a fastball, which bounced off the right-field wall for an A's lead that would remain intact thanks to tremendous work from their bullpen.
"Just trying to get a pitch over the plate, because his stuff is sharp," Lowrie said. "It's got a lot of sink for a guy who throws that hard. I got a pitch over the plate, he made a mistake, and I made him pay for it."
The two-bagger rewarded a fine effort from Oakland's pitching staff, including five strong innings from Andrew Triggs, who was making his first start since June 9, 2017, following a lengthy rehab from hip surgery.
Triggs relied on his breaking ball to strike out seven batters in his season debut, including five of six at one point, and he held the Rangers to one run and four hits in five innings.
"I hadn't really given a whole lot of thought to how long it had been since I was in a real game, because you get through an entire Spring Training and kind of feel like you get your legs back under you," Triggs said. "But it was nice to get back out there."
On the opposing side, Bartolo Colon held his own against his former team. The veteran right-hander, who at age 44 became the oldest pitcher to appear in a game since a 49-year-old Jamie Moyer made a start for Colorado on May 27, 2012, allowed just one run in six innings.
Colon's lone blemish was a third-inning leadoff home run to Matt Chapman, who has two homers in as many days. The third baseman was one of three A's players to enjoy a multi-hit game, joining Lucroy and Matt Olson.
A's closer Blake Treinen capped the bullpen's scoreless four-inning night with a five-out save. Lefty Ryan Buchter was also asked to record five outs, needing 36 pitches to do so. Treinen used 29 pitches.
"Our team is built to finish games, and we've got a lot of good arms in the bullpen who can go multiple innings," Treinen said. "You've seen Buchter go multiple innings. You saw [Chris] Hatcher go multiple innings. You've seen [Yusmeiro] Petit. I mean, really, you name anybody down there, they've all gone multiple, so it's a nice luxury to have. Our starters have honestly thrown the ball really well. It's just a good team win."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Powell saves Piscotty: A's right fielder Stephen Piscotty dropped Robinson Chirinos' deep fly with one out in the fourth for a three-base error, but was bailed out by center fielder Boog Powell. After Triggs retired Rougned Odor on a weak popout, Ryan Rua lined a shot to center, and Powell raced in to make a diving catch for the third out. The catch was Powell's first 4-star play in center, according to Statcast™. It had a 29 percent catch probability, as Powell had to cover 36 feet in three seconds.
"That was huge," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "At the time, we need the lead. To make that play and keep it where it was at that point was big. We make another error in the outfield, and now we need a play like that, so it picked everybody up."
Relieved: The Rangers were awarded the first opportunity to strike in the seventh, putting two on with two outs against Buchter. That's when Melvin brought in righty Chris Hatcher to face Elvis Andrus. Hatcher fell behind, 2-0, before inducing an inning-ending groundout to keep the game tied ahead of Lowrie's game-changing hit in the home half of the frame.
The Rangers threatened again in the ninth, putting each of their first two batters on base against Treinen. The right-hander stranded men on second and third by getting a weak pop from Joey Gallo and a game-ending grounder off the bat of Andrus.
"At some point in time, it's going to be tough to keep covering four innings in a game," Melvin said. "At this point, I'm glad we have an eight-man bullpen because there are a couple guys not available every day. That's asking a lot, an inning and two-thirds. Buchter is a guy who really saved us."
Robinson makes run-saving throw: Rangers center fielder Drew Robinson made an outstanding throw to keep the game tied in the fifth. Lucroy tried to score from second on Semien's single, but Robinson threw him out. Robinson unleashed a two-hop throw that catcher Chirinos caught to the left of home plate and then shut off the plate to get Lucroy.
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Hatcher was credited with the win, becoming the first pitcher in Oakland history to get the win in each of the A's first two victories of the season.
The A's turn to right-hander Kendall Graveman on Tuesday for the second of a four-game series with the Rangers, scheduled for 7:05 p.m. PT at the Coliseum. Graveman had a no-decision in his Opening Day outing against the Angels, allowing five runs on seven hits -- including three home runs -- across five innings.
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Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.