Athletics Edge Rangers in Series Opener

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(Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images)

Athletics 4, Rangers 3

ARLINGTON, Tex. (Apr 9) — The Texas Rangers were narrowly defeated by the Oakland Athletics, 4–3, in their series opener on Tuesday. The Athletics rode the bat of catcher Shea Langeliers, who had a three-homer game. The Rangers will have a chance to even the three-game set on Wednesday at Globe Life Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 pm Central. Right-hander Ross Stripling (0–2, 3.75 ERA) will get the starting nod for the Athletics, and lefty Cody Bradford (2–0, 2.13 ERA) will take the hill for the Rangers.

Quick Start for Semien

The Rangers got on the board almost immediately off Athletics starter Alex Wood. On the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the first, Semien ripped a double to left. On deck was Josh H. Smith, who brought Semien home with a sharp single to right. The Athletics knotted it up in the top of the second on a solo home run to left by Langeliers off Rangers starter Nathan Eovaldi. The Rangers answered right back in the bottom of the second on a solo shot to left by Jonah Heim. The score remained 2–1 in favor of the Rangers until the top of the seventh.

Something in the Water

Langeliers struck again with his second homer of the evening, this time off Rangers reliever David Robertson. He hit a solo blast to center. This clout helped mark the third multi-homer game of his career.

The Rangers regained their one-run lead in the bottom of the seventh. Evan Carter led off the frame with his first homer of the year, a solo wall-scraper off Athletics reliever Mitch Spence. It may be a cliche, but sound really did have feel in that moment, as the crowd of 18,714 gave Carter a standing ovation for the swing he had just taken.

In the top of the ninth Rangers manager Bruce Bochy brought in closer Jose Leclerc to relieve Kirby Yates. After he struck out J.D Davis, he walked Seth Brown. Darell Hernaiz immediately ran for Brown. Moments later, Langeliers walked to the plate once again. Fans couldn’t help but watch helplessly as he belted his third dinger of the evening, this time to left-center, giving the Athletics a 4–3 lead and eventually the win.

What Went Right for the Athletics

We’ve all heard the phrase “Location, Location, Location.” During Tuesday’s game, a case could have been made to change that to “Langeliers, Langeliers, Langeliers.” He drove in all four of their runs in the series opener in what initially had the makings of an easy win for the Rangers. It’s a good reminder that anything can happen, at any time, in baseball.

What Went Wrong for the Athletics

The thing that hurt the Athletics in this one is that they gave up an early lead in the first. Once again, Semien proved why he is consistently penciled in as the Rangers’ leadoff man. He swung at the first pitch that he saw and scored soon after. The home runs by Heim and Carter were a slight speed bump as well.

Eovaldi Goes Five and Change

Eovaldi did not factor into the decision of Tuesday’s contest. Over 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball in which he allowed three hits, the only damage against him was Langeliers first homer in the second. He fell just short of his third consecutive quality start. Eovaldi became the fourth pitcher in franchise history to log 18 2/3 or more innings with 19 or more strikeouts while allowing three or fewer earned runs over his first three starts of a season. The last to do it was Yu Darvish in 2014 when he logged 22 innings while striking out 23 and allowing two earned runs.

Eovaldi fanned eight batters for the second consecutive start, striking out eight-plus in back-to-back outings for the second time in his career. He generated 21 swings-and-misses Tuesday, the third-most in a single game in his career; this, coming on the heels of a career-high 23-whiff outing on April 3 against the Tampa Bay Rays. Leclerc was handed the loss, bringing his record to 0–1 with an ERA of 14.40. 

Wood’s Early Exit

Athletics starter Alex Wood avoided the loss in his third start of the season. He exited after the fourth inning with the Athletics trailing, 2–1. His line was 4 IP, 5 H, 2 R-ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 67 pitches/41 strikes. Wood allowed the solo home run to Heim in the second inning, the first long ball he has permitted in 2024. He left the game due to a calf cramp. Michael Kelly got the win after pitching a scoreless sixth inning. He is now 1–0 on the season with an ERA of 3.86. Mason Miller earned his first save of the season after tossing a perfect ninth.

Postgame Comments

An understandably dumbfounded Bochy held court in the interview room after the game. He discussed the night Langeliers had. “He singlehandedly beat us,” Bochy said of Langeliers. “I mean, three home runs, there’s no getting around that. He took advantage of some mistakes, and we couldn’t tack on a little bit more to maybe get it out of reach. Pitching, Nate (Eovaldi), what a job he did. Another terrific job to hold them there. … But we just ran into a guy that had a huge night.”

Moments later, Eovaldi echoed Bochy’s sentiments on Langeliers. “He went out there and he did his job,” Eovaldi said. “He had the big hits and everything. … For him as a hitter, he’s aggressive on that first pitch inside. I think it came down to the way we attacked. He swung aggressively at the first curveball that I threw. I wanted to make sure that I buried the splitter, but I didn’t. I hung it, and he hit it out.”

 

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