Woodward explains ninth-inning conference with umpires
To those out there thinking that the Oakland A’s just might be dominating the Texas Rangers the past few seasons at Oakland Coliseum, you’re absolutely correct.
The Rangers are only 3-18 at the armpit of MLB ballparks since April 18, 2017, and have lost six in a row.
But it’s not just on the road where the Rangers have struggled against the A’s. Since July 23 last season, the Rangers are only 2-13 against the A’s and only 9-25 against them since Aug. 25, 2017.
As such, the A’s now lead the all-time series 369-368, their first lead since Oct. 1 ... 1977!
Adrian Beltre hadn’t even been born yet.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 6-5 walk-off loss that completed a three-game sweep for the A’s.
1. Eric Cooper, who served as the plate umpire, should be grateful to have Joe West on his crew. West has such a bad reputation as a poor umpire with a quick trigger finger that Cooper seems to get away with the massive strike zone he has always had.
He rang up multiple players on both teams on pitches shown to be outside the strike zone, including Joey Gallo twice. Gallo objected to his third called strikeout, but Cooper got that one right.
He and West teamed up in the ninth inning to cost the Rangers a chance at the go-ahead run. At least manager Chris Woodward seemed to feel that way.
Runners were a first and second with one out when Delino DeShields sent a hard grounder to shortstop Marcus Semien. It was an easy double play, even with DeShields running.
But the Rangers replay team spotted that second baseman Jurickson Profar never touched second base. They phoned to the dugout to tell Woodward to challenge, and he alerted Cooper.
Cooper, though, said that Woodward hadn’t alerted him within the required 10 seconds after the play, and West, as West does, waddled over from third base to give his 2 cents.
No challenge was permitted, Shin-Soo Choo did not bat with the go-ahead run at third base, and the A’s scored moments later on a two-out single by Chad Pinder to win it.
(Stephen Piscotty scored the run the pitch after he swiped second base. Catcher Isiah Kiner-Falefa appeared to make a quick accurate throw, but neither shortstop Logan Forsythe or second baseman Danny Santana covered the bag.)
Afterward, Woodward said that he felt he had been wronged.
“I understand the reasoning, but I’ve seen it happen before,” Woodward said. “Ever since replay has come into the league, they’ve always given you the leeway.
“You’ve got to live within the rules, but we looked at the replay and it was within 10 seconds that I motioned to them. It’s frustrating.”
Woodward said that he will consider giving umpires notice on every close play. Maybe every play. He doesn’t want to get burned again by a system in which the goal is to get the call right.
Or maybe he just needs to consider who the umpires are each game.
2. Woodward mentioned late Tuesday that the bullpen would be fine Wednesday even though Kyle Dowdy was making a spot start and Wei-Chieh Huang and Jeffrey Springs covered multiple innings in relief of Lance Lynn.
Jesse Chavez and Jeanmar Gomez were available to give length, Woodward said. So was Brett Martin. So was, as it turned out, Thursday’s scheduled starter, Adrian Sampson.
Hello, Taylor Hearn.
The left-handed prospect will be recalled Thursday from Triple A Nashville so that he can make his MLB debut against the Seattle Mariners. He is on the 40-man roser, and the Rangers cleared a spot on the 25-man roster by optioning Huang back to Double A Frisco.
Hearn has four career starts at Triple A, each of them this month. The Rangers planned before the season to call him up this season, though, after at least a few months had passed and preferably in the second half of the season.
But they don’t have that luxury after their starting pitching depth collapsed, first with Jason Hammel’s stunning retirement at the end of spring camp and then with the promotion of Sampson and elbow injury of Edinson Volquez.
Drew Smyly is on the 10-day injured list, which forced Dowdy into the rotation. The Rangers needed Sampson available in relief Wednesday. Once it became clear he was needed, Hearn hopped on a plane to Seattle.
Though the Rangers wanted to hold off on promoting Hearn, the fact is that he’s their best option for major-league duty. Ariel Jurado has pitched well so far, with numbers shinier than Hearn’s, and has MLB experience, but his stuff isn’t as dynamic as Hearn’s and lacks the potential.
Hearn could dominate if he’s on. Jurado needs a lot of things to go well.
Will Hearn be on? T-Mobile Field gives him a little margin for error if he’s not, but he will be tested by some of the Mariners’ big right-handed bats.
There are no issues with Hearn’s service clock, as, very conveniently, he will be promoted far enough into the season to avoid it starting this year.
While promoting Hearn isn’t ideal for the Rangers, it’s also not the end of the world.
3. Dowdy didn’t do too badly in his first MLB start, though he was frequently behind hitters. He was down 2-1 to Semien, who crushed a poorly located fastball into the left-field seats.
Dowdy contends location, not the count, was the problem there. Maybe, but he probably doesn’t throw the same pitch if he had been up in the count.
“It didn’t go as well as I liked,” he said.
Dowdy could get more chances this season or in the future.
Of course, as a Rule 5 pick Dowdy has to stick on the Rangers’ 25-man roster all season or risk being lost on waivers or returned to the team that lost him in the Rule 5. It looks like he will, but it might be premature to talk too much about future seasons.
Dowdy, who was a starter for the New York Mets in spring training, said it doesn’t matter which roll he is filling.
“I just want to pitch,” he said. “I don’t care what role they have me in.”
The Rangers, though, like the stuff and need to see if it would play in the rotation. A team, especially one that claims to be in rebuild mode, can never have too many starting pitchers.
“We’ve talked about it,” Woodward said. “Probably not at this juncture, but it’s something we’ve discussed just because of the stuff. He’s sustained his stuff every time he’s gone out.”