Burke can't escape 1st as Rangers fall to A's

September 22nd, 2019

OAKLAND -- The Rangers are trying to look at young players in the final weeks of the season. The A’s are pushing to clinch an American League Wild Card spot.

Rangers manager Chris Woodward said early in September he was excited and looking forward to seeing how his young players responded to playing in that kind of atmosphere. Saturday night was not a good look.

Rangers rookie left-hander Brock Burke, making his second straight against the surging A’s, allowed seven runs in only two-thirds of an inning in a 12-3 loss at Oakland Coliseum. The Rangers, who have lost seven in a row, had home runs from Elvis Andrus, Danny Santana and Nick Solak, but they were all solo shots that came after the Rangers trailed, 11-0.

“Not great,” Woodward said. “I don't like getting our butts kicked. And neither do our guys. It's tough when you're down, 7-0, [in the first inning] to start the game. We've got to do a better job of giving our offense a chance. We've got to be better.”

Burke faced nine hitters, and seven reached base on five hits and two walks. A throwing error by Solak, who made his 10th start at third base, on a potential inning-changing double play also hurt.

The A's weren’t hitting Burke particularly hard. Of his five hits allowed, four had an exit velocity of less than 90 mph. Statcast defines a hard-hit ball as a ball hit 95 mph or harder, and only one of the seven balls put in play against Burke qualified.

“They were line drives,” Woodward said. “I wouldn’t say they were scorched, but they were pretty healthy swings. This team is really good right now. They are making you pay when you leave the ball up or not executing. I don’t think Brock got hammered by any means, but he just left some balls over the plate that allowed them to get to the outfield.”

Burke was hurt by a pair of walks in the middle of the inning when it was still possible to limit the damage and give the Rangers a chance against A's starter Sean Manaea.

Burke has allowed 13 runs in 3 2/3 innings over two starts against the A's, who have won 15 of their last 18. He had a 3.52 ERA through his first four starts against the Angels, White Sox, Mariners and Orioles, four teams that aren't going to the postseason.

“It’s definitely hard facing them,” Burke said of the A's. “They’re a really good hitting team and if you’re not perfectly on, they’re going to make you pay, and the last two games I’ve had some off games and they made me pay."

Burke began the night by giving up three straight singles to Marcus Semien, Matt Chapman and Matt Olson. Those are three dangerous hitters, but none of the hits had an exit velocity higher than 90 mph.

“They were just getting hits right over the infield and in the outfield, and they just strung a bunch of hits together,” Burke said. “No home runs or anything like last time, but they were just putting it together and hitting it where the fielders weren’t."

Mark Canha followed with a grounder to Solak, who stepped on third for one out but then threw wildly to first and beyond the reach of first baseman Ronald Guzman. The ball rolled into the vast Coliseum foul territory, and Olson raced home for the second run of the first.

Ramon Laureano followed by ripping a double to right-center field to score Canha on the only hard-hit ball off Burke. But then Burke walked Khris Davis and Chad Pinder to load the bases. Sheldon Neuse’s sacrifice fly scored a run, and Josh Phegley’s soft line-drive single to left scored another. At that point, Woodward came out and pulled Burke. Right-hander Luke Farrell took over, allowing a walk to Semien and a two-run single to Chapman that capped the A's seven-run rally.

“That's something our younger guys have to learn,” Woodward said. “When they get into situations against good teams they have never been in before and have something to play for, you have to execute pitches. If we were a game back of these guys, that wouldn’t have been good enough to get us to the playoffs. It’s a good experience, but we have to do a better job of executing pitches.”