Jurickson Profar started his big-league career with a home run in Cleveland last September. His 2013 debut didn’t have a storybook tale of that nature.
But Profar was responsible for both of the runs in the Texas Rangers’ 9-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Monday night. The Rangers lost for only the third time in the past 12 games and saw their lead in the American League West drop to 51/2 games.
The seven-run losing margin matched a season high.
Profar, though, had productive outs with an RBI groundout and sacrifice fly on the night, but the rest of the offense misfired during opportune times. And starter Josh Lindblom, also making his 2013 debut, couldn’t get through five innings.
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That left the Rangers relying heavily on their bullpen a second consecutive night after Derek Holland lasted only 4 2/3 innings Sunday. The Rangers announced afterwards that they will option Lindblom back to Triple A Round Rock, effective Tuesday, but did not announce a corresponding move. All signs point to them adding a reliever, likely left-hander Neal Cotts who has a 0.78 ERA over 15 appearances with the Express.
Lindblom could rejoin the Rangers for their doubleheader in Arizona next Monday. Players who are optioned have to stay in the minors for at least 10 days, however, MLB suspends that rule for doubleheaders.
Either way, Lindblom will hope for better results the next time around as it was a battle from the start.
With runners at the corners and one out in the first inning, Lindblom retired Brandon Moss on a shallow fly ball to left and got Josh Donaldson on a groundout.
The A’s took a 1-0 lead in the second when Seth Smith led off with a homer, but Lindblom retired the next three.
Lindblom then found himself in a bases-loaded jam in the third but got out of it, and then he had a 1-2-3 fourth.
In the fifth, though, the A’s capitalized on their opportunities against Lindblom. Coco Crisp had a leadoff double and scored on a double to left by Yoenis Cespedes. Moss followed with an RBI double to right to score Cespedes.
“My balls were elevated,” Lindblom said. “If you elevate the ball, they’re going to make you pay. The first four innings I was able to keep the ball on the ground. The fifth inning I wasn’t able to make my pitches.”
Lindblom struck out Josh Donaldson for the second out of the fifth, which ended his night as Washington turned to left-hander Joseph Ortiz for the lefty-lefty matchup against Smith.
Ortiz couldn’t bail Lindblom out. Smith dropped a single into left that David Murphy bobbled, allowing Moss to score without a play at the plate. Chris Young had a broken-bat single in the next at-bat to score Smith as the A’s took a 5-1 lead.
The Rangers scored a run in the home half of the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Profar, who also had an RBI groundout in the third.
“He handled his at-bats well,” Washington said of Profar.
Said Profar: “I was trying to be aggressive and have good ABs.”
That was all the Rangers could get on a night they squandered chances throughout the game. They bounced into inning-ending double plays the first two innings and had another rally-killing double-play grounder in the fourth that erased a leadoff single by Lance Berkman.
It went like that the rest of the way.
With the game still within reach at 5-2 in the sixth, Murphy led off with a single, but the next three batters were retired by Oakland starter Bartolo Colon.
Colon held the Rangers to two runs on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts over seven innings. As a whole, the Rangers went 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position.
The A’s pulled away with three runs in the seventh, one charged to Ortiz and the other two to Cory Burns. They added another run in the ninth off Michael Kirkman.