ARLINGTON, Texas – The A’s have mounted some impressive comebacks at Globe Life Park, but the task proved too steep in their series opener Friday night.
Raul Alcantara needed a do-over shortly after he took the mound, getting tagged for eight runs over two innings in a 10-5 defeat to the Texas Rangers.
The Rangers jumped ahead with three runs in the first, including Rougned Odor’s two-run homer. Then the roof caved on Alcantara in the second, when he issued two walks, hit another batter, committed a throwing error on a pickoff and eventually gave up Nomar Mazara’s first career grand slam to put the A’s in an 8-0 hole.
Jesse Hahn took over to begin the third and turned in an excellent outing given the circumstances. He ate up the final six innings on the mound and kept the game from getting further out of hand. The A’s began slugging their way back into it, with Matt Joyce hitting a deep shot for a three-run homer in the third and Khris Davis leading off the fourth with his third homer of the season.
But the comeback ran out of steam, and Texas tacked on a couple more as Mazara finished with a six-RBI night. With that, the two-time defending American League West champions won their first game of 2017 after they were swept by Cleveland to begin the season.
Starting pitching report
Alcantara (0-1), getting his first chance in a season-opening big league rotation, just couldn’t harness his command. Rangers center fielder Carlos Gomez, who also impacted the game with his defense, led off the bottom of the first by hustling out a double on a base hit to left-center. He was on third when Mazara brought him home with a fielder’s choice grounder on which it was ruled that Yonder Alonso never touched first base before throwing home late trying to get Gomez. Odor’s two-run shot to right would make it 3-0, and then it all went downhill in the second for Alcantara.
Former Athletic A.J. Griffin took the mound against his old club for Texas, but he left in the fourth after suffering abrasions on both knees and his right palm when he dove on an odd play while backing up home plate. He wound up charged with four runs over 3 1/3 innings.
Hahn couldn’t have arrived at the ballpark knowing he’d get such a workout. Called up from the minors when John Axford went on the disabled list Wednesday, Hahn saved the rest of the bullpen by entering in the third and taking it to the finish line, holding the Rangers to two runs over six innings. He struck out three and walked one, and he’ll leave the A’s with some thinking to do on whether he should take the ball the next time Alcantara’s turn comes up. Hahn hadn’t pitched in an actual game since a March 25 exhibition in Arizona.
At the plate
Davis picked up right where he left off against the Rangers last year, when his 10 home runs in 18 games set a Texas single-season record for most homers by an opponent. He has three homers in the A’s first five games. Joyce’s three-run shot was his first homer as an Athletic.
The A’s had a real chance to put some pressure on the Rangers in the fourth, when they loaded the bases with one out as Griffin left and lefty Alex Claudio (1-0) came in with the score 8-4. Claudio fell behind 3-0 in the count but Semien wound up grounding into an inning-ending double play and the A’s wouldn’t get any closer.
A’s center fielder Rajai Davis, who has hit leadoff in four of the A’s first five games, is 2-for-21 to start the season and batting .095.
In the field
Gomez, an excitable player who the Rangers re-signed over the offseason, robbed Joyce of a homer in the first with a terrific leaping catch at the wall.
A crowd of 34,235 showed up on a mild and breezy night in Arlington.
The middle game of this series provides a good matchup Saturday with Kendall Graveman (1-0, 3.00) and Yu Darvish (0-0, 5.68) taking the mound. Darvish is 3-9 with a 4.64 ERA against the A’s, with those nine losses his most by far against any major league opponent. First pitch is 5:05 p.m.