ARLINGTON, Texas >> A’s manager Bob Melvin sat in the visiting manager’s office at Globe Life Park before the opener of Saturday’s doubleheader with the Texas Rangers figuratively keeping his fingers crossed that he could limit the use of his bullpen and planning to rest some of his position regulars with three games to play over the next day and a half.
Melvin didn’t count on losing a catcher and need a replacement flown into Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport before the Athletics’ 10-5 loss to the Rangers was over.
Nick Hundley, who started the opener behind the plate in place of Josh Phegley, felt spasms during his third-inning at-bat and was forced to leave the game four pitches into his next plate appearance in the fourth inning.
Phegley literally came off the bench and smashed a 2-2 four-seam fastball into left field for a two-run double that, following Matt Olson’s two-run home run, pulled the A’s within 5-4 after Triple-A call-up Paul Blackburn (0-1) struggled through three innings, allowing five runs.
Phegley added to his hit total in the seventh with a home run but nearly joined Hundley among the walking wounded in the ninth inning when he fouled a pitch off a foot and walked off the pain.
“It’s all right,” Phegley said of his foot. “If you’re a catcher and you come out of a game and you didn’t get touched by a baseball, it’s a victory.”Hundley was placed on the 10-day injured list. The A’s arranged for Triple-A catcher Beau Taylor to board a flight from Las Vegas to D/FW.
Phegley started Game 2 behind the plate.
• Blackburn was recalled from the Aviators as the 26th man on the roster, a one-game Major League Baseball exception allowed for doubleheaders. His first major league inning since last July featured a little bit of everything – 41 pitches, two hits, a walk, a hit batter, three stolen bases and a failed attempt by Rangers base runner Elvis Andrus to coax the 25-year-old to balk him home after stealing second and third.
“It just wasn’t his day,” Melvin said.
“There’s a lot of emotion just going on,” said Blackburn, who was 5-4 with a 4.48 earned run average in 16 starts for the A’s over the past two seasons. “Happy to be back and maybe trying to do a little too much.”
With Melvin hoping to conserve his bullpen, Blackburn toiled for 87 pitches (“Almost an uncomfortable amount of pitches,” Melvin said) before help was summoned. Right-hander Ryan Dull pitched two innings and left with the A’s trailing 10-4, the most significant damage done on a three-run home run by Tim Federowicz.
Next came right-hander Aaron Brooks, who was pulled from the starting rotation after April and had pitched one inning since May 16. Brooks worked three scoreless innings and 56 pitches, which helped give Oakland’s high leverage relievers the afternoon off.
“That was huge for us, and impressive, too,” Melvin said. “He knew he had to finish the game.”
“I felt like he went in there with no excuses,” Phegley said of Brooks. “He was ready to compete. We had a plan to just kind of use his sinker and throw all his pitches and eat up some innings.”
• The temperature during Saturday’s opener, which began at 12:07 p.m. Pacific Time, reached 92 degrees. The forecast high for Sunday afternoon, when the A’s will conclude this four-game visit, is 95.
Melvin said he’ll welcome the Rangers’ move in 2020 to a climate-controlled park with a retractable roof next door.
“Day games here, not only is it hot, the sun’s in our dugout the entire game,” Melvin said. “So, you feel it a little bit.”
The all-time high for a game at Globe Life Park was set last season at 107 degrees — at first pitch for a night game.
• Right-hander Frankie Montas (7-2) will enter Sunday’s finale ranked sixth in the American League in earned run average (2.83) and with the third-best road ERA (2.36). After allowing four home runs in his first three starts this season, Montas has given up one in his subsequent nine.