Hits? Who needs ’em? The A’s are on such a roll that they can work around teensy issues like that. They did just that Wednesday night in a 3-1 victory over the Rangers at Globe Life Field.
That’s 19 victories in 25 games in August. At 22-10, the A’s have the American League’s best record and largest division lead, 4 1/2 games over the Astros.
Actually, the A’s did get hits, five of them in all. But four came in the eighth and ninth innings, when they were padding a 2-1 lead. Stephen Piscotty got two of the five, including the only one the A’s got off Rangers starter Kolby Allard.
In a two-run sixth inning, Piscotty ended Allard’s no-hit bid with a single to left field with one out. The A’s sandwiched that hit between four walks and a wild pitch.
This is why that first hit might have been enough: pitching, pitching and more pitching. A’s Starter Mike Fiers was excellent in allowing one unearned run in six innings before giving way to a bullpen that extended its scoreless streak to 25 1/3 innings. A’s manager Bob Melvin got a scoreless inning apiece from Joakim Soria, Jake Diekman and Liam Hendriks.
“Fiers was as good as we've seen him all year,” Melvin said, “and he's gotten progressively better every game. And then the bullpen came in and did what they've been doing all year.”
In the sixth inning that put Fiers in position for his fourth win of the season, an A’s team that has relied on home runs found another way to score. Piscotty’s single drove in a run after a pair of walks, and the second run came home on a wild pitch.
“You know, it doesn't feel like we’re rolling,” Melvin said, “but we find different ways to win which is great. And, you know, it's been for the most part with homers.”
By that time, Melvin had handed the game to a bullpen that hasn’t allowed a run in seven straight games. The Rangers didn’t get a runner into scoring position after the fourth inning, and the three Oakland relievers allowed one baserunner, that on a walk, and struck out five of the 10 hitters they faced.
“You can bring anybody at any time in those key situations, and they just turn the fire off,” A’s center fielder Ramón Laureano said before the game. “And it’s awesome to see that.”
A’s ponder action
The A’s will discuss whether to play Thursday’s game against the Rangers as a way of adding their voice to the national protest over the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Kenosha, Wis. Melvin said the A’s discussed, briefly, whether to play on Wednesday.
“It was really close to game time,” Melvin said. “And we decided to play. I did give the option for anybody who did not feel comfortable playing not to play. But it was just kind of too rushed before we got together, and everybody was pretty united in playing.”
Melvin said no player asked not to play. As for playing on Thursday, he said: “We’re going to talk about it more extensively as a group. They wanted to be united as a group. But I just wanted to make sure I covered all our bases.”