Athletics 5, Rangers 4
The Athletics’ youngest regulars were the biggest contributors to Oakland’s 5-4 victory over the Texas Rangers on Thursday, with Harden pitching into the seventh inning and Crosby hitting a three-run double.
Neither Rogers nor the A’s cared much about the left-hander’s streak of 18 victories and 35 appearances in Oakland without a loss stretching back to Aug. 7, 1994. The playoff race is a bigger concern for both teams—and with a much-needed win, the A’s maintained their slim AL West lead.
“You try to put it aside, but it’s always in the back of your mind,” said Harden, who had seven strikeouts while becoming Oakland’s fifth 10-game winner. “It’s coming down to the last few series here, and everything is magnified.”
Crosby, who was 14 when Rogers last lost in Oakland, provided a clutch fifth-inning hit that allowed the Athletics to salvage a split of the four-game set. He and Harden (10-6) were teammates at Triple-A Sacramento last summer, but they’re thriving in a major league race this fall.
“It’s incredible for a rookie to be in this type of situation,” Crosby said. “I’m not even thinking about it. I’m just taking it like it’s the middle of the season, a regular old (at-bat).”
Crosby was unaware of Rogers’ decade of dominance at the Coliseum.
“Sometimes it’s better not to be aware of that stuff,” he said with a grin. “That can put bad thoughts in your mind.”
The Rangers had several disappointments in the finale of the four-game set. In addition to the end of Rogers’ streak and a wasted chance to move within three games of the division lead, Texas might have lost Alfonso Soriano with an injury to his left leg.
Soriano was hurt in an awkward headfirst slide while stealing third base in the eighth inning. His left foot got caught under his right leg, and he left the game after consulting with trainers. He’ll undergo tests Friday.
“It doesn’t look very good,” manager Buck Showalter said. “But we won’t comment until the MRI.”
The series began Monday night with an ugly confrontation between the Rangers’ relievers and a heckling fan. Texas reliever Frank Francisco threw a chair into the stands, breaking a woman’s nose.
There was no ruling from the commissioner’s office Thursday on a suspension for Francisco. But a penalty is likely to be imposed Friday—possibly about 10 games.
Doug Brocail, the other Rangers reliever prominently involved in the fracas, got loud boos when he took the mound in the fifth. But there was no visible trouble in the sun-baked crowd.
Harden allowed six hits while improving to 7-1 since the All-Star break— and more importantly, sending the A’s on a nine-game road trip against their three division rivals on a good note.
“You can’t say it’s a must-win, but it’s as close as you could get to it,” A’s manager Ken Macha said. “It’s going to make Texas’ road a little tougher. We’re going to feel good about ourselves on the plane ride up (to Seattle).”
The A’s had lost seven of 10 entering the finale of their 10-game homestand, and Texas built a 4-1 lead entering the fifth before Crosby cleared the bases with two outs on Rogers’ 103rd pitch.
Rogers (16-8) allowed nine hits and five runs in his shortest start since Aug. 8. The All-Star is 1-3 over his last six starts.
“I had a 4-1 lead, and I let it get away from me,” Rogers said.
When asked about his incredible Oakland streak, Rogers shrugged and said: “I guess I just have to start again.”
Three Oakland relievers preserved the lead after Harden left in the seventh. Octavio Dotel stranded pinch-runner Manny Alexander on third base in the eighth, then pitched the ninth for his 21st save in 26 chances.
Eric Young had two doubles and Hank Blalock drove in two runs for the Rangers, whose four-game split in Oakland must be considered a success, though their five-game deficit in the West didn’t change. Texas usually struggles against Oakland, losing nine of 13 to the A’s before the series.
Eric Chavez drove in two runs for the A’s, who fell behind when the Rangers scored three in the third on RBI hits by Young and Blalock.
Eric Byrnes got a triple in the fifth when David Dellucci and Laynce Nix ran into each other. The ball was jarred from Dellucci’s glove in the violent collision, but both outfielders emerged unscathed.
Rogers nearly left the game after sticking out his pitching hand in an attempt to catch Mark Kotsay’s line-drive single in the third. The left-hander stayed on the mound after trainers examined him. … The September game between contending clubs drew just 15,281 fans to the Coliseum. … A’s rookie Nick Swisher made two errors in right field.