If you keep pulling the thread, eventually the whole thing will unravel, so the saying goes.
The Rangers did quite a bit of pulling in the first two games of their brief homestand, and the whole thing unraveled in the series finale against division leading Oakland. Robbie Ross couldn’t escape the fourth inning and the Texas defense made four errors behind him as the A’s pounded the Rangers 12-1 on Wednesday night.
With the loss, Oakland completed a sweep of Texas just four days after the Rangers swept them in North-Central California. There was not much doubt in manager Ron Washington's voice when he reflected on the series.
"They beat us. They beat us soundly," he said matter-of-factly after the game.
The first two innings Wednesday showed signs of a pitcher’s duel, as Ross dealt two scoreless innings on 26 pitches, matching zeroes with Oakland starter Jesse Chavez. But the third inning saw six Oakland hits and lackluster defense, which resulted in seven Oakland runs -- only three of which were earned.
Ross retired the first batter of the inning in Eric Sogard, but the next seven Athletics would reach base, including former Ranger Craig Gentry on a ground-rule double. Shortstop Elvis Andrus let a potential double play ball go through his legs, making way for four more Oakland batters and three more runs.
Ross threw 43 pitches in the third inning.
"I didn't make good pitches when it started to snowball," Ross said. "It's on me. You've got to battle in those situations, and I tried to, but I missed here and there."
The lefty reliever-turned-starter threw just 3.1 innings, giving Texas starters a combined 11.1 innings in the three-game series. The Rangers made two errors on one play to score two more Athletic runs, and Alexi Ogando allowed one inherited runner to score.
"I went three innings, so obviously it's frustrating in that sense that I wish I could've gone longer," Ross said. "It snowballed on me quick."
Ten runs were charged to Ross’s ledger, inflating his season ERA by almost a run-and-a-half to 3.86. Manager Ron Washington said he had a long conversation with his young starter after he came out of the game.
"The line doesn't show it," he said. "But I like the way he hung out there trying to fight. It just didn't work out."
The A’s added a run in the fifth and sixth, with an RBI single and a Coco Crisp home run into the Ranger bullpen, respectively.
In total, the Rangers were charged with four errors: two by Andrus, one by Rios, and another by Beltre. That number in the box score doesn’t quite tell the whole story, though. Two routine ground balls in the infield turned into hits, Mitch Moreland bobbled a ball in left field, and catcher J.P. Arencibia dropped several pitches behind the plate.
It was just an off night for the Texas Rangers.
"It's one of those games you just want to get over," Andrus said after the game in which he was pulled in the sixth inning. "There's nothing you can do but turn the page."
It was far from an off night for Chavez. The 30-year-old Oakland starter tossed seven innings of one-hit ball, striking out eight Rangers in the process.
Josh Wilson put the Rangers on the board with an RBI double in the eighth off of Luke Gregerson. It was just the second extra-base hit of the series for Texas. Leonys Martin extended his hitting streak to seven games with a two-out single before scoring on Wilson’s two-bagger.
Daniel Robertson recorded his first major league hit, a slow roller that hit the third base bag to stay in fair territory. But Texas recorded just seven total bases Wednesday. Prince Fielder’s first-inning single and fourth-inning walk accounted for two of them.
Arencibia hit a hard (relatively speaking) ground ball past shortstop Nick Punto in the fifth inning, but couldn’t get the hometown call in an 11-0 game, as it was ruled an error.
Aaron Poreda, Neal Cotts and Joakim Soria each dealt a scoreless inning of relief to stop the bleeding for the Texas ‘pen. Soria struck out the side in the ninth inning on just 14 pitches. 11 were strikes.
Nick Martinez, the designated long relief man for the Rangers, was unavailable for Wednesday’s game.
Texas is off Thursday and has the chance to rest its bullpen and regroup before another intra-division series on the West Coast against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The manager's advice to his players is to put the three-game home set in the rear view mirror.
"That's all you can do. Right now I'm thinking about Anaheim," he said. "We didn't play well enough to win. When you don't play well enough to win, you just have to keep going."
The Rangers are three games back of Oakland for the AL West lead.