Rangers' offense has answers for A's ... until the 10th

May 13th, 2023

OAKLAND -- Generally speaking, a pair of runs does not constitute a big inning. But in a game defined by slim margins, the Rangers' two-run advantage felt like just enough to get the job done as they headed into the bottom of the 10th on Friday night.

Unfortunately for the Rangers, the A's responded with a big inning in the more conventional sense, driving in four runs to walk off the Rangers, 9-7. With the loss at the Coliseum, Texas is 1-2 in extra-inning games.

"They're fighting hard over there, just like us," manager Bruce Bochy said. "You have them on the ropes, you want to finish it off. We couldn't do it tonight."

The little things added up quickly in a back-and-forth affair, which saw a steady flow of lead changes as the shutdown inning eluded both teams. Neither the Rangers nor the A's led by more than a run at any point in the first nine innings.

The A's got on the board first when Esteury Ruiz hit a leadoff home run (his first in the Majors) on the first pitch he saw from Rangers starter , but evened the tally with an RBI double in the top of the second. Oakland went ahead again in the latter-half of the frame, only for to tie the game again in the third.

That cycle repeated, with the Rangers scoring a run per frame from the second through the sixth innings. Texas held a 5-4 lead entering the bottom of the eighth, but watched Ruiz knock in the game-tying run.

"Battled back and forth, just one of those games," Bochy said. "Early, we just couldn't quite get that big hit to put it out of reach. We kept putting up one run, we were missing that crooked number, and had some men on base there."

There was little margin for error all evening, and that made the missed opportunities sting even more.

Entering the day, the Rangers' .918 OPS with runners in scoring position led the Majors. They went 6-for-19 in such situations on Friday, leaving 13 on base.

Perhaps the biggest missed opportunity came in the eighth inning, when the Rangers had the bases loaded with one out. A's left-hander Sam Moll was able to get two quick outs to kill the rally, with still an option on the bench.

Bochy said he tried to stay away from García in order to give him a full day off, but he ended up going to the slugging outfielder in the 10th inning. García delivered a pinch-hit RBI knock and drove in an insurance run on a bloop single -- but the pesky A's refused to go away, with Brent Rooker hitting a walk-off three-run shot against lefty Brock Burke.

"We got some hits with runners in scoring position," Bochy said. "But when they were full, we just couldn't quite get that one more hit. 

"But still, when you score seven, you take your chances. Pitching was just a little bit off today."

Prior to Friday, Pérez had gone undefeated in his previous five starts, though he gave up a season-high seven runs his last time out. He had another shaky outing on Friday, allowing four runs on eight hits and striking out three against two walks.

"I was missing a lot of pitches," Pérez said. "That's when you get hit, when you don't locate your pitches."

Pérez gave up 11 home runs in 2022, which was tied for the second-fewest allowed among qualified starters. He's surrendered eight round-trippers in as many starts in '23, including three solo shots to the A's.

During last season's career year, Pérez dominated the A's, allowing just two runs over 20 innings in three starts, all at the Coliseum. He doubled that total on Friday night.

The Rangers are ready to move forward from a frustrating evening after coming out on the wrong side of a game of margins. After all, it could just as easily have swung the other way.

"We've just got to come tomorrow and play better than them," Pérez said, "because they played better than us today."