In summing up his Labor Day at O.co Coliseum, Derek Holland called his mound effort horse hockey. Or something like that.
The left-hander wasn’t the only Texas Rangers player pulling a mea culpa Monday, after a 4-2 loss that allowed the Oakland A’s to move into a first-place tie in the American League West.
Adrian Beltre admitted to a mistake in the sixth inning for not trying to score on a Lance Berkman sacrifice fly. Beltre also made a throwing error that led to an A’s run in the fifth inning.
Collectively, the Rangers were 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position and saw none of their nine base runners over the final four innings cross home plate.
To make matters worse, because the Bay Bridge was closed, many chose public transportation over the cushy team bus to get back to the team hotel in San Francisco.
“It was a game of opportunities, and we just didn’t take advantage of ours,” manager Ron Washington said. “One hit at the right time today would have made a difference. But you’re giving yourself chances. If you’re giving yourself chances, the odds are in our favor.”
Yoenis Cespedes and Coco Crisp hit home runs against Holland, who walked five in 42/3 innings and had his shortest outing since June 11.
Cespedes started the second with his 21st homer of the season, and the A’s added another run on a Chris Young single to center that scored Alberto Callaspo. Young was out at home trying to score on an error by center fielder Leonys Martin.
But Holland didn’t yield a run the next two innings despite three walks, and David Murphy hit a two-run homer in the fifth to knot the game at 2-2. It was his first homer since Aug. 1.
Holland, though, couldn’t keep the A’s from retaking the lead only moments later.
Michael Choice, the Mansfield Timberview graduate who was drafted in the first round in 2011 out of UT Arlington, reached on a wide error by Beltre during his major league debut. Crisp followed with a towering fly ball that nicked off the left-field foul pole for a 4-2 lead.
Washington requested that the homer be reviewed, but it just stayed fair.
“It’s a game of inches,” he said.
The Rangers had several opportunities late, but went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position over the final four innings. They loaded the bases with one out in the sixth, but Beltre couldn’t score from third on Lance Berkman’s liner to right field, and Murphy grounded out to end the threat.
Beltre said that initially he thought the Berkman ball was going to fall in front of Young in right field, so he wasn’t on the bag when Young caught it. Beltre was fearful that if he had been tagging when the ball fell in, he might have been forced out at home.
“The right call would have been to tag up and see what happens,” Beltre said.
The Rangers had another chance in the eighth, putting runners at first and second with one out, but Mitch Moreland struck out and Berkman flied out to deep center.
In the ninth, Murphy walked and Leonys Martin singled to start the inning against Grant Balfour. Jurickson Profar took two strikes while trying to get a bunt down before grounding out to first.
With runners at second and third, Ian Kinsler’s fly ball to right field wasn’t deep enough to score Murphy, and Beltre grounded the first pitch he saw to third to end the game.
“It’s over,” Murphy said. “We’ll be back tomorrow.”
The Rangers and A’s are both 79-58 with 25 games remaining, five of them head-to-head. Washington said that he likes where his team is, even though it is 1 for 24 with runners in scoring position the past four games and has scored two or fewer runs in four straight.
“Our destiny is in our hands,” Beltre said. “We’ll see what happens.”