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Thoughts on a 3-1 Rangers loss

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A’s 3, Rangers 1

Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

A’s 3, Rangers 1

  • That wasn’t a very exciting game.
  • One of the interesting — at least to me — YMMV — things about this game was the similarity in offensive performances by each team. Oakland had five hits, including a home run, a walk, and struck out seven times. The Rangers hitters, meanwhile, had seven hits, including a home run, a walk, and struck out eight times.
  • Sequencing was the difference, as often happens.
  • Kolby Allard had a quality start, logging 6 innings with three runs allowed on four hits and a walk. He generated 10 swinging strikes in 91 pitches, and generally had a pretty good game.
  • Allard’s problem is that the walk and two of the hits all came in the second inning. Matt Chapman led off the second with a walk, followed by a Chad Pinder single. Jed Lowrie popped up into that enormous, cavernous foul territory in right field of the Oakland Coliseum, which garnered an out, but was distant enough that Chapman advanced to third base, where he scored on a Sean Murphy sac fly.
  • And thus stepped up Frank “Go Ahead Mr.” Schwindel, and the plate appearance that was the difference in the game. I didn’t recall having heard of him before yesterday’s game. I thought maybe he was one of those generic guys who make no impression in my head, someone who has been around for a few years and played against the Rangers but who my brain didn’t feel like was significant enough to retain any memory of. That happens more and more often as I get older.
  • But that wasn’t the case — yesterday was Schwindel’s seventh major league game, and his first of 2021. His previous major league experience was 15 plate appearances over six games with the Kansas City Royals in 2019. He had one major league hit in those 15 plate appearances. The Royals released him in early 2019, he signed with the Detroit Tigers, spent the rest of 2019 in their minor league system, and then was with the Tigers in 2020, I am assuming at their Alternate Training Site, but didn’t play in the majors.
  • Schwindel turned 29 on June 29. The same day, the A’s purchased his contract from AAA Las Vegas, where he had slashed .324/.369/.643 in 203 plate appearances. His role would be playing DH or first base against some lefties, and with lefty Kolby Allard on the mound yesterday, Schwindel got his first start for the A’s.
  • Two outs, runner on first, Allard threw a four seamer up and to the outer part of the plate to Schwindel that was called a ball. He followed that up with a four seamer belt high and on the inside part of the plate. That did not work out well.
  • Schwindel crushed the ball. It was clear off the bat the ball was going a long, long way, but it was pulled, and there was briefly the hope that the ball would curve foul. That hope was dashed as the ball landed in the stands and Schwindel trotted around the bases for his first major league home run — a 411 foot, 108.0 mph moonshot. The home run was then reviewed to see if it was fair or foul, but the fair call stood, the A’s led 3-0, and unbeknownst to us (though suspectedst by us) the game was essentially over.
  • Allard was great after that. He retired Skye Bolt for the final out of the inning, and over the next four innings allowed just two singles while striking out four. But given the poor performance by the Rangers bats last night, Allard needed to be spotless, and he wasn’t.
  • Texas sent Josh Sborz out to pitch the seventh down 3-0, and Taylor Hearn to pitch the eighth down 3-0. Each of them threw a scoreless inning with a K, keeping things close, or at least providing a save opportunity for an A’s reliever heading into the ninth.
  • There was excitement in the ninth for the Rangers, at least. Joey Gallo blasted a one out home run to eliminate the goose egg and give the Rangers some life. Nate Lowe followed that up with a single, and after Eli White reached on a weakly hit infield single, the Rangers had the tying run on first and the go-ahead run at the plate with one out. Jonah Heim struck out looking, however, and Nick Solak flied out to right field, and that was the game.
  • It was a winnable game for Texas. They got a well pitched game from the pitching staff and the offense had opportunities to scratch out a couple more runs. They just failed to do so.
  • Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Eli White each had two hit nights. Andy Ibanez and Nate Lowe each singled. Adolis Garcia had a walk. That, along with the Gallo home run, accounted for the Rangers baserunners.
  • Kolby Allard touched 92.8 mph with his four seamer. Josh Sborz topped out at 97.4 mph. Taylor Hearn hit 95.3 mph. Hearn also generated three swings and misses out of six four seamers, which is pretty good.
  • Nate Lowe continued to smoke worm burners, as he had a 110.9 mph groundout that was the hardest hit ball of the game. Joey Gallo’s home run was 102.6 mph off the bat. Jonah Heim had a 102.3 mph flyout. Andy Ibanez’s single was 101.4 mph, and Eli White had a 100.8 mph double.
  • Thursday is a day game in Oakland. We hate day games in Oakland. Those never go well. And it is especially meaningful, because this will be Game 81 of the season, the official halfway point. A loss will mean the Rangers are on exactly a 100 loss pace for the season. A win means a series win, which is good, and the first road series win against Oakland since 2016, which is remarkable.
  • So let’s see the Rangers defy convention and expectations and win the rubber match.