Rangers Lose, Keep Division Lead

Despite a 9-4 loss in Oakland on Thursday, Texas remains in lead of the division

The bad news is that the Athletics beat the Rangers 9-4 on Thursday afternoon, powered by a grand slam from Jack Cust and a three-run shot from Matt Holliday. 

The good news, if you’re into optimism (and trend-studies), is that the five-run loss was the largest since April 17, a 12-3 loss to Kansas City at home.
 
Brandon McCarthy struggled early with command, falling behind to hitters and surrendering seven runs on eight hits. McCarthy walked four and struck out three.

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Kris Benson came in to relieve McCarthy in the fifth, surrendering two quick runs before settling in; he pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh.
 
Texas rallied in the ninth to score three runs, on doubles by David Murphy and Omar Vizquel and a single by Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but too little too late.
 
With the loss, Texas’ five-game winning streak was snapped.
 
But back to the optimism; Texas is (a) hitting well, in general, (b) playing solid defense (4th best in the league), and (c), lately, pitching well enough to win baseball games.
 
The point here is that Texas is playing a lot of close games; and they are, or at least have been, winning them. Attribute much of this to defense and (get ready for it) pitching.
 
Close games make a good team better, and it appears that the old formula has held true thus far for Texas.
 
Because for all the optimistic figures and speculations, the only thing that really matters is that, after a 3-1 Seattle loss in Kansas City, Texas remains in first place, a half game ahead of the Mariners; and the manner in which they took this lead has left little reason to think that such a hot streak is an aberrance.
 
Texas will head to Chicago to face the White Sox on Friday night, the opener of a weekend set at U.S. Cellular Field.
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