Errors and inexperience cost the Texas Rangers dearly in their 3-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Saturday night.
The Rangers (42-51) made three errors in the game, two of which helped Oakland score runs. Inexperience from rookie Josh Smith, who started his second game in left field and made an incredible defensive play that, unfortunately, gave the Athletics (35-62) their third run.
The Rangers are now 3-7 in their last 10 games and have lost the first two games of this series at Oakland. The Athletics won Friday’s game 5-4.
The Athletics gained a 2-0 edge in the bottom of the sixth without getting a hit off Rangers relievers Dennis Santana and Matt Moore. Oakland drew three walks, scored one run off of an error by first baseman Nathaniel Lowe and another off a sacrifice fly from Oakland’s Chad Pinder.
In the seventh, the Athletics tacked on a third run after Nick Allen singled, reached second on a wild pitch by Moore and third on an error by catcher Meibrys Viloria. Vimael Machín brought Allen home on a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1.
But Machín’s fly ball was in foul territory and while Smith made an incredible diving catch for the out, it left Allen more than enough time to tag up and score. Had Smith allowed the ball to drop or failed to make the catch, the Rangers would have kept Allen at third, at least temporarily.
The Rangers dodged a leadoff double by Elvis Andrus in the bottom of the fifth. Andrus thought he had a home run, but it hit the wall above Smith’s head and became a double.
The Rangers managed to escape after reliever Santana induced a double-play ground ball from Allen, whose ground ball glanced off Santana’s glove but still made it to shortstop Corey Seager to start the double play.
Taylor Hearn, who started the second inning after Matt Bush opened the game for Texas, had a fine outing over 3 1/3 innings. He threw 60 pitches, giving up three hits and a walk while striking out three. It was the second straight game in which the Rangers used the opener strategy with Bush and Hearn. In his last outing on July 15, Hearn threw four innings and gave up four runs (two earned), five hits and two walks, but struck out seven.
But for the second straight game, the Rangers had trouble generating offense against Oakland pitching. James Kaprielian started for the Athletics and threw five innings, giving up two hits and two walks while striking out four. From there, the Athletics bullpen gave up just one Texas run.
Texas scored that run in the top of the seventh. Ezequiel Duran hit a sharp double to center field and scored on a Marcus Semien double, which cut Oakland’s lead to 2-1.
Sunday’s game will pit a pair of All-Stars in the Rangers’ Martin Pérez and the Athletics’ Paul Blackburn.
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