A’s beat Rangers again, AL West still up for grabs


One imagines the A’s would have been perfectly happy with the wild card a few weeks ago. Now they’re one game away from winning the AL West.

Travis Blackley allowed one run and three hits in six innings and the bullpen came through one more time Tuesday as the A’s topped the Rangers 3-1 to move into a tie for first place in the AL West.  They were as many as 13 games behind Texas earlier this year.

The Rangers got their only run on a Josh Hamilton double in the third. Derek Norris came back with what was supposed to be a game-tying single in the fifth, but right fielder Nelson Cruz bobbled it, allowing Brandon Moss to score the go-ahead run. Jonny Gomes hit a solo homer in the sixth to conclude the scoring for the night.

Grant Balfour, working on a fourth straight day for the first time this year, retired Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz in a perfect ninth for his 24th save of the year.

Blackley excelled tonight just five days after giving up five runs in an inning in a start versus the Rangers. The A’s have won five straight after losing that game. Tonight’s appearance may well have been the of the year for Blackley, as the team doesn’t figure to carry him as a reliever in the postseason.

Wednesday’s finale will feature Ryan Dempster and A.J. Griffin as the starters. It’ll be Dempster’s first start against the A’s as a member of the Rangers. He’s 7-3 with a 4.64 ERA in 11 starts since coming over from the Cubs. Griffin is 7-1 with a 2.71 ERA in 14 starts for Oakland. He pitched six scoreless innings in his one outing versus Texas this year.

Dbacks outfielder Steven Souza injured his right shoulder last night

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Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Steven Souza dove for a ball in a spring training game last night, missed, and ended up injuring his right shoulder.

It looked bad, too. Center fielder Jarrod Dyson stood over him, frantically waving to the dugout for a trainer as Souza kicked his legs in apparent pain. Souza held his arms awkwardly as he walked off the field. At the moment the Dbacks are calling it a right shoulder strain, but he’ll get an MRI on it today after which a more specific diagnosis will come.

If Souza is out for a while it’s a pretty big blow to Arizona’s 2018 plan. Souza was acquired to help cushion the blow of losing J.D. Martinez in free agency. While not the hitter Martinez is, Souza hit 30 homers in Tampa Bay last year, stood likely to at least match that in the more hitter-friendly confines of Chase Field and, of course, plays superior defense.

Potential replacements for Souza include moving David Peralta from left to right and inserting Yasmany Tomas in left or having fourth outfielder Dyson, or perhaps a platoon of Dyson and utilityman Chris Owings, handle right. Socrates Brito is another internal option.

Obviously the Snakes will wait to hear the results of the MRI before going too deeply into replacement plans, all the while hoping that Souza’s injury is far less serious than it appeared to be last night.