ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Matt Olson delivered in a situation made for a cleanup hitter, at the same place where the Oakland slugger spent his only game this season in the bottom half of the lineup.
The club leader in RBIs was dropped to sixth for a game at Texas when he was slumping late last month. Olson homered among two hits in that 10-3 win, and had two more hits again Friday with a run-scoring single after the slam. His 36 RBIs are among the top 10 in the majors, offsetting a .200 batting average.
Olson’s 426-foot drive about 15 rows up in right field on a 3-2 pitch was his 13th homer and second grand slam this season. The other was a game-ender against the Los Angeles Angels on opening day.
“His power’s been there all year,” manager Bob Melvin said. “You look at his average, it’s not indicative of how he’s played this year. You look at everything else but the average and it would suggest he’s having a really good year.”
Mike Fiers (5-2) won for the third time in three starts against the Rangers with six solid innings as the AL West-leading A’s moved a season-high 13 games over .500 and reduced their magic number for reaching the playoffs to single digits.
Oakland improved to 6-1 against the last-place Rangers, clinching the season series for the fourth consecutive year.
Garcia (0-2) didn’t get an out in what was supposed to be the second tandem start for the right-hander with Jordan Lyles. Instead, reliever Jimmy Herget came in after Olson’s slam as Garcia’s ERA rose from 3.68 to 8.59.
A visit from pitching coach Julio Rangel didn’t help Garcia, and manager Chris Woodward popped out of the dugout not long after Olson circled the bases.
“Obviously we’ll talk to him, if Julio hasn’t already,” Woodward said. “You see a lot of left-side misses, kind of pulling them. It’s frustrating because obviously Luís has been good for us, but today was not great.”
Lyles started the second inning as planned, and Sean Murphy sent his second pitch into the pavilion above the hitting background in center. Murphy’s fifth homer of the season traveled 464 feet. Robbie Grossman hit his fifth homer in the sixth.
Fiers gave up one run through six innings before Elvis Andrus homered leading off the seventh and Rougned Odor and Ronald Guzman walked, ending the right-hander’s night. Fiers ended up allowing four runs with five strikeouts.
“I’m just disappointed the way it ended,” said Fiers, who is 7-0 against Texas in his past 10 starts after going 0-3 in his first six appearances. “Giving up the home run and two walks, I’m going to be disappointed no matter what inning that is. Ended up being closer than it should have been.”
Sam Huff made his major league debut and matched Sandy Alomar (2005) and Mark Parent (1991) as the tallest catchers in Rangers history at 6-foot-5. The prized prospect struck out on three pitches in his first at-bat and finished 0 for 3 with a walk. Odor hit a two-run homer in the eighth.
“Take deep breaths, just slow everything down, savor the moment, see how everything’s going because you only get one debut,” Huff said.
VERY LONG RELIEF
Lyles recovered from a rough second to go seven innings, the longest relief outing in the majors this season. The right-hander allowed nine hits and five runs while throwing 115 pitches, the most for a big league reliever since Jason Johnson threw the same number for Baltimore against the Chicago White Sox in 2000, according to Baseball Reference. It was the longest relief outing for the Rangers in 12 years.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
The Rangers opened the roof on their new $1.2 billion stadium for the second time — the first time because of pleasant weather. The first-pitch temperature was 76 degrees. It was 95 degrees when Texas experimented with an open roof in August.
Athletics: LHP A.J. Puk will have season-ending surgery on his pitching shoulder. He hasn’t pitched this season because of inflammation that required injections. … 3B Matt Chapman visited a doctor in Vail, Colorado, on Friday for another opinion on his right hip tendinitis. He hasn’t played since Sunday.
Rangers: Manager Chris Woodward said C Jose Trevino‘s sprained left wrist was improving faster than expected and he could return Sunday or Monday. He injured the wrist on a swinging strike Wednesday.
Oakland RHP Daulton Jefferies is expected to make his major league debut in the first game of a doubleheader scheduled after the A’s decided not to play the final game of a four-game series at the Rangers on Aug. 27 to support calls for racial justice. RHP Chris Bassitt (3-2, 3.12 ERA) is set for the second game for the A’s.
Rookie reliever Wes Benjamin is scheduled to be another opener for the Rangers, with fellow lefty Kolby Allard (0-5, 7.22) expected to make the other start. It’s the first doubleheader of the pandemic-shortened season for the Rangers and the second this week for Oakland.