Cruz's clutch bat doused in finale
Right fielder's four RBIs not enough; pitchers issue 10 walks
OAKLAND -- Rangers manager Ron Washington doesn't keep a scorebook during the game, but he didn't need to look at one to know what happened Sunday afternoon."We walked 10 guys and hit two," Washington said. "That's 12 free bases. We walked their eight and nine hitters five times. Five of their seven runs scored on walks. Twice we walked the first two batters of an inning. We were messing with trouble all day, and it finally caught up with us." It did so in the bottom of the eighth inning. Reliever Warner Madrigal walked the first two batters he faced, and then he gave up a three-run home run to Aaron Cunningham that lifted the Athletics to a 7-4 victory over the Rangers at McAfee Coliseum. The loss left Texas with a split of the four-game series and of its six-game road trip. "It was a tough day," said starter Vicente Padilla, who was one of four Rangers pitchers who had trouble meeting home-plate umpire Angel Campos' strict strike zone requirements. "He was tight," said Kameron Loe, who walked three in two innings after walking just five in his previous 25 innings. "It was probably a culmination of us not being effective as we could be, but I know he was tight with me. There are no excuses for 10 walks, but we were all battling out there." So was Gerald Laird, who started at designated hitter and was thrown out of the game in the fourth inning for arguing after being called out on strikes for the second consecutive at-bat. Laird was tossed while walking away from the plate and back to the dugout. "I was 15 feet away," Laird said. "I don't know how he heard me. I just said this was ridiculous, and I guess he heard me. I was on the grass. I wasn't even looking at him. I didn't show him up at all. I don't know if he had a short leash or what, but I didn't show him up until he threw me out." Nelson Cruz provided all the Rangers' offense by driving home four runs with two doubles and a single. Six Oakland pitchers combined for 12 strikeouts, including four by Chris Davis. Padilla, who went five innings while walking three, hit two batters -- getting both Rajai Davis and Ryan Sweeney in the second inning. When A's starter Dana Eveland hit Taylor Teagarden in the fourth, Campos warned both benches. "I don't know if he was trying to hit me, but it kind of looked like it," Sweeney said. "Right out of his hand it came right at me. I told the umpire he threw at me intentionally. He said, 'He's been kind of wild.'" All four Rangers pitchers were. "I was trying to pound the strike zone, but it was really hard," Padilla said. "I was going full count on almost every hitter." Padilla, having thrown 109 pitches, left with a 3-2 lead, but Bill White took over and immediately walked No. 8 hitter Daric Barton and No. 9 hitter Jack Hannahan. What bothered White was Hannahan was trying to bunt Barton to second. "He's giving me a free out, and I'm throwing stuff up at his chin," White said. "There's no excuse for that." Loe took over from there. Davis forced Barton at third with an attempted sacrifice bunt, but Loe walked Cliff Pennington and Sweeney bounced a single into right field to give the Athletics the lead. Cruz tied it for the Rangers with a run-scoring single in the seventh, giving him his fourth RBI on the afternoon.
But Madrigal then walked Pennington and Sweeney to start the eighth. He retired the next two hitters on a strikeout and a flyout, but Cunningham jumped on a first-pitch breaking ball and hit it over the left-field wall to give the Athletics a 7-4 lead."You can't be competitive if you don't throw the ball over the plate," Washington said. "Everybody that came in was erratic. Vinny was erratic. I don't know what happened, maybe it was the mound. But that's how those guys over there beat you. They wear the pitcher out, take free bases and then somebody pops one. That's exactly what happened."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.