When this four-game series began, odds would have been against Travis Blackley being the pitcher most likely to shut down the Texas Rangers' lineup. But that's exactly what happened as he went seven strong innings to help the A's salvage the final game of the series. Blackley was great, allowing a single run on seven hits and striking out three. Most impressively, he did not walk a batter, enabling himself to avoid many stressful situations.
After falling behind 1-0, Derek Norris started the rally by scorching a single in the fifth inning off of Yu Darvish to plate Seth Smith and tie the score at one. In the sixth inning, a Darvish wild pitch scored Jemile Weeks from third to give the A's their first lead of the game. Brandon Moss concluded the scoring with a bullet off Darvish into the second deck in right field to make it 3-1.
The bullpen redeemed a rough Friday outing as Jerry Blevins wriggled out of a jam in the eighth inning created by Grant Balfour. Aided by an infield single and Brandon Inge's third error in as many games, the Rangers had runners on the corners with Josh Hamilton representing the go-ahead run. But Blevins induced a harmless pop-up to get the A's out of danger. Oakland's All-Star selection Ryan Cook pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to record his seventh save of the year.
Good: Travis Blackley. Right now, Blackley is about as hot as anyone on the staff. In his last four starts, he has an ERA of just 1.93 (five ER in 21.0 IP) and a .211 (20-for-95) opponents batting average. Blackley and A.J. Griffin have more than capably stepped in for the injured Brandon McCarthy and Bartolo Colon, which can only bode well for the A's when those two return.
Bad: Brandon Inge. Another error, another struggle at the plate. To be fair, Yu Darvish struck out 11 hitters and looked absolutely filthy at times. But that still doesn't excuse Inge's miscues on defense. These last few games, Inge has looked more like Luke Hughes and Josh Donaldson than Carney Lansford or Eric Chavez. I can only hope Detroit's decision to release him isn't bearing itself out as the first half winds down.
Ugly: N/A. Heading back home, it was vital to get this win. Nothing wrong with a win at all.
Improving to 38-42, the A's will attempt to get a win as the season hits the halfway point Monday evening against the Boston Red Sox. Jarrod Parker will take the ball against Daisuke Matsuzaka with the first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. PT at the Coliseum.