DALLAS - How do I know the Rangers are cursed at Rickey Henderson Field at Oakland Coliseum? Tonight Rougned Odor drew two walks, was the only member of the lineup to reach via a walk, and the Rangers still didn't score a single run.
All the way back on April 17, the Texas Rangers played the Oakland A's at the Coliseum for the first time in 2017. Behind a six inning, one-hit scoreless gem from former Athletic A.J. Griffin, the Rangers beat the A's 7-0. Since that date back in April, the Rangers and A's have played in Oakland seven times, including tonight. After a 1-0 loss with their contention in the AL Wild Card race on the brink, the Rangers are zero for their last seven in Oakland.
The Rangers started Miguel Gonzalez (8-12) tonight against RHP Raul Alcantara (1-1) of Oakland. Gonzalez was a waiver deadline trade acquisition of the Rangers and Alcantara was a very later emergency starter for the A's after scheduled starter Sean Manaea was a late scratch. So, obviously, a pitchers' duel ensued.
Alcantara came into the evening with 11 career appearances in the big leagues, a career ERA of over 8.00, and 1-4 all time record to his name. To say you could expect him to toss five scoreless innings of two-hit ball would be like predicting A's Bruce Maxwell would kneel during the National Anthem and no one would have loud opinions about it on Twitter.
Well, Bruce Maxwell kneeled, Twitter caught fire, but Alcantara did indeed pitch the game of his life against Texas anyhow. Again. Cursed.
Or maybe it isn't a curse. Maybe it's just that the Rangers keep throwing baseballs anywhere near the lumber Khris Davis carries to the plate. Tonight, Davis hit a solo home run to lead off the bottom of second inning off Gonzalez for his 40th dinger of the season and yet somehow his 400th HR against Texas.
Gonzalez followed that predictable and mammoth shot by loading the bases full of Oakland A's before getting a bit lucky in a sequence where he wiggled out of the jam via a lined smash to Elvis Andrus at shortstop, a called strike three for the second out on a pitch a foot off the plate, and a routine flyout to left field to end the threat with the game still just 1-0.
I don't want to spoil the suspense but if you've read the first few paragraphs of this article, or even the headline, you'll know the Rangers did not go ahead and score a run to tie the game at any point afterwords. Because, cursed.
After Gonzalez's limbo act in the second inning, he settled in and didn't allow an Athletic past first base for the remainder of his six innings. Gonzalez finished with a line of six innings, four hits, one run, zero walks, and five Ks. In a just world without curses that fester within Oakland Coliseum, Gonzalez's outing would have been good enough for a win. But alas, cursed.
The bats were quiet the entire night collecting just four hits total -- all singles -- and drawing the two Rougned Odor walks. The real lone rally for the Rangers came in the top of the fifth when, after Robinson Chirinos singled with two outs and Odor drew his second walk, Drew Robinson grounded out to first base to end the threat. It was the only time all night the Rangers had an at-bat with a runner in beyond first base.
Oakland (71-83) has been mired in last place in the American League West for the majority of the season. You wouldn't know just by watching the Rangers' sisyphean task of beating their division rivals in the decrepit disaster they call home in the Bay Area.
With the loss the Rangers (76-78) dropped another game to the second Wild Card leading Minnesota Twins and now trail by 4 1/2 games in the race to reach the Wild Card round of the playoffs. With just eight games remaining (and five of those against these A's) those chances have been severely diminished in the cursed grounds of Oakland these past two evenings.
The Rangers will finish their road slate for 2017 with one final game in Oakland (thankfully) on Sunday afternoon. Lefty Martin Perez will make the start for Texas in the finale opposite RHP Jharel Cotton of Oakland. First pitch from the cursed Coliseum is scheduled for 3:05 pm CT.
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