Oakland, CA – It’s not something that you’ll hear in the locker room or overheard in the dugout. Everyone knows what needs to be done in this four game series. The Texas Rangers lead by by seven and a half games over the Oakland A’s in the American League West.
A sweep will keep hope alive for the A’s and tonight they got one step closer. Dallas Braden pitched another shutout game to give Oakland their first win of the series over the Rangers 5-0.
“We just haven’t figured out Dallas Braden,” said manager Ron Washington. “This is twice that he’s shutout us down!”
Oakland’s lefty also shutout the Rangers on August 28, 2010. Tonight Braden retired 19 straight before walking two batters giving Texas hope they may get back into this game. He pitched eight innings, allowing one hit, two walks and seven strikes. Almost perfect for the night but Braden felt he was just OK.
“It was alright in the beginning,” he explained. “The walks are eating me up and it takes me out of my game.” “Overall we’re having a good time, we got the win and we’ll take it.”
After three scoreless innings Cliff Lee did the unthinkable, he walked two batters back-to-back before striking out Kevin Kouzmanoff. But next at bat was designated hitter Jack Cust who hit a single RBI giving the A’s their first run of the game. Chris Carter followed with a sacrifice fly to make it a 2-0 lead.
The offense continued to surge as Oakland scored three more runs bottom of fifth frame. Steve Tolleson was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento on August 13th for his second stint with the A’s. Tonight he made a huge impact in their win hitting two doubles both in the third and fifth frames scoring one run.
“I’m glad I found some holes to help contribute,” Tolleson said. “We had our backs against the wall and had a great pitcher at the mound.” “We played better than our record tonight, today was a good day.”
The Rangers earned their fifth loss in seven games. They can wrap up the division with two wins within the next three days but their hitting hasn’t gotten any better on this road trip. Texas lefty Lee also fell into an offensive slump by walking two batters in a row that cost him two runs.
“We know what we have to do,” first base coach Gary Pettis said. “Our magic number goes down with each win and as long as it happens it doesn’t matter where it is.”
The Rangers only hit of the night came in the first frame with two outs. Nelson Cruz hit up the middle to second baseman Mark Ellis whose off balance catch delayed his throw for the out. But Braden got himself together and left no options for any chance to celebrate a division win tonight.
“We want to win every single game to avoid their celebration on the road,” manager Bob Geren said. “We hope we can sweep!”
Written by: Malaika Bobino