But the A’s returned the favor by completing a sweep at Texas on last week. The teams have split the six games they’ve played so far, in what could be another battle for the AL West division title.
Last year, the A’s won the division by 5 1/2 games over Texas. In 2012, Oakland won the division on the last day of the regular season by sweeping the Rangers in three games in Oakland.
The A’s and Rangers went into this week’s series tied for first, but Oakland took a three-game lead over the Rangers in the division with the sweep. After losing the first three games of the season series last week by a combined score of 12-7, the A’s used strong pitching and broke out the bats to overwhelm the Rangers 25-4 in this week’s series.
“We didn’t enjoy them coming in sweeping us,” A’s second baseman Eric Sogard said. “It kind of really made us wake up a little bit.”
Oakland scored 10 runs combined in the third and fourth innings of last Wednesday’s 12-1 rout. Sogard drove in two runs with a single to complete a seven-run third, and added an RBI-single to center in the fourth. Yoenis Cespedes had a pair of doubles and two RBIs. And Jesse Chavez allowed just one hit in seven scoreless innings. The Rangers didn’t help themselves by committing four errors.
Sonny Gray shut out Texas 4-0 on April 28, earning his first career complete game. It was Rangers’ starter Yu Darvish’s shortest outing of his career. Gray gave up three hits while striking out six, and avoided making eye contact with manager Bob Melvin after walking off the field following the top of the eighth.
“Yeah, I wanted to go back out there,” Gray said.
Oakland got off to a hot start in the series’ second game, a 9-3 win, scoring all nine of its runs in the first five innings, including a five-run fifth. Derek Norris hit a two-run double in the first off Martin Perez, and an RBI-double in the third.
Perez blanked the A’s the week before, allowing just three hits.
“We just had to get the ball up in the zone,” Norris said. “He’s a ground ball pitcher, he gets a lot of double plays. When he got in a situation with runners on, we cashed in some runs.”
Perez allowed eight runs, two more than his total through his first five starts.
“They looked more aggressive tonight, and a couple of pitches (were) up,” Perez said.
The game was Rangers’ manager Ron Washington’s 62nd birthday. Texas is 0-6 on his birthday.
The A’s and Rangers resume their 19-game season series in June at Oakland. They will finish with a four-game set at Texas near the end of September.
10,000 wins for Dodgers: The Los Angeles Dodgers won their 10,000th game in franchise history on April 30, defeating Minnesota 6-4. They joined the San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs as the only franchises with 10,000 or more wins.
Zack Greinke (5-0) got the win for Los Angeles. It was his 18th consecutive regular-season starts of at least five innings while allowing two runs or less.
StatsWatch: Here are some of the best stats from the month of April –
- Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees, 3-0 with 46 strikeouts, 6 walks.
- Jose Abreu, White Sox, set rookie records with 10 HRs, 32 RBIs.
- Melky Cabrera, Blue Jays, led AL with 41 hits.
- Max Scherzer, Tigers, 51 strikeouts in 39 innings pitched led AL.
- Scott Kazmir, Sonny Gray, A’s, combined to go 8-1.
- Chase Utley, Phillies, 33 hits led NL 2B.
- Jose Fernandez, Marlins, 3-0, 0.33 ERA at home.
- Adam Wainwright, Cardinals, 5-1, 1.20 ERA.
- Mike Morse, Giants, 19 RBIs leads team.
- Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers, 8 HRs tied for NL lead.
Diamond Notes: Oakland right-handed pitcher A.J. Griffin underwent Tommy John surgery on last week, becoming the second A’s starter to have the season-ending procedure. Teammate Jarrod Parker had the elbow ligament replacement surgery before the season started. Griffin, 26, went 14-10 with a 3.83 ERA last season…Yankees RHP Michael Pineda is serving a 10-game suspension after being ejected for having pine tar, an illegal substance, on his neck in a game last week at Boston. Pineda will be out longer with a strained upper back muscle, expecting to miss three to four weeks…Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw struck out nine batters in five innings during a rehab start at Double-A Chattanooga last week, his second minor league start. Kershaw hasn’t pitched since Opening Day in Australia, when he injured the teres major muscle near his left shoulder.
Copyright © 2014 Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.