The A’s bullpen had been air tight of late, but the Texas Rangers dealt a damaging blow Friday night.
Santiago Casilla gave up Joey Gallo’s walk-off three-run homer in the ninth and the Rangers rang up a 5-2 comeback victory in the opener of a six-game road trip for the A’s.
Oakland’s relief corps hadn’t given up a run in three games in a row, but Casilla couldn’t hold a 2-1 lead when he took the mound in the bottom of the ninth. Trouble hit immediately with back-to-back singles from Jonathan Lucroy and Roughned Odor. Mike Napoli followed with a game-tying sacrifice fly. Carlos Gomez doubled to put runners on second and third with one out. With first base open and the left-handed hitting Joey Gallo up, Casilla hung a 3-2 curve and Gallo crushed it off the right-field foul pole.
It was the second consecutive night the Rangers won in walk-off fashion, after Napoli homered the night before against San Diego.
Mark Canha had put the A’s ahead with a pinch-hit RBI double in the seventh to break a 1-1 tie, but the A’s couldn’t close it out after winning four of their previous five.
Casilla came in having converted six of seven save opportunities.
Starting pitching report
Coming off a poor outing against Detroit, Jesse Hahn bounced back and delivered seven strong innings. He held the Rangers to four hits and one run over seven innings, walking three and striking out three. With Jharel Cotton being sent to Triple-A Nashville on Thursday, Hahn is assured of staying in the rotation when Sean Manaea returns from the D.L. on Monday. Now the right-hander is trying to establish himself for a more extended period in the starting mix. The only run off him came in the fifth, right after the A’s had given him a 1-0 lead. Carlos Gomez doubled to lead off the inning. Hahn’s own throwing error on a pickoff attempt hurt his cause, moving Gomez to third. Then Delino DeShields laid down a safety squeeze bunt, and Gomez scored with a nifty slide to avoid Stephen Vogt’s tag.
Ryan Dull pitched a scoreless eighth to hand the ball to Casilla, who has established himself as manager Bob Melvin’s choice for the ninth in the early part of the season. Everything lined up right for the A’s relief corps, which has been overworked this season. Hahn’s outing was just the fourth time in the past nine games that an Oakland starter completed at least six innings.
At the plate
The A’s managed just seven hits and couldn’t muster enough to create some separation between them and the Rangers. It was the fourth game in a row that Oakland scored three or fewer runs. They are 2-2 in those games.
In the field
The A’s committed two errors, with Hahn’s throwing error leading to a run.
If there’s one opposing ballpark that can bring the best out of Sonny Gray (0-1, 4.22), perhaps it’s Globe Life Park. He’s 6-0 with a 1.45 ERA in six starts there. That’s the lowest ERA of any pitcher at the venue with a minimum of 30 innings pitched.