Bullpen badgered in game-changing inning

Check-swing call before Lawrie's go-ahead hit riles up Rangers' dugout

Bullpen badgered in game-changing inning

ARLINGTON -- Rangers reliever Neftali Feliz thought he had struck out Brett Lawrie to end the eighth inning and cut short the Athletics' game-winning rally. After the game was over, Feliz checked the video.

"He swung and missed," Feliz said.

First-base umpire Jordan Baker did not see it that way, and he heard about it from the Rangers' dugout. Baker ruled that Lawrie checked his swing on a 2-2 pitch in the dirt. The Rangers' dugout let out a collective howl, but the count went full.

Lawrie fouled off the next pitch, then hit a two-run double into the right-field corner. That was one of the big hits that allowed the Athletics to rally for seven runs in the inning and shock the Rangers with a 7-5 outcome on Friday night.

The Rangers had a 5-0 lead going into the eighth before the Athletics came back against Shawn Tolleson, Roman Mendez and Feliz.

"We just didn't do our job as a bullpen at a time when our team really needs a win," Tolleson said. "The timing of this happening isn't the best."

Colby Lewis pitched six scoreless innings and left-hander Alex Claudio set down the side in order in the seventh.

Lewis strikes out eight

The plan was for Tolleson to pitch the eighth and then Feliz in the ninth. The plan started going awry quickly, as Mark Canha led off the eighth with a home run.

"Obviously, Canha kind of ambushed me," Tolleson said. "I threw a high fastball down the middle and he did what he should do with it."

Eric Sogard then singled and moved up as Sam Fuld grounded out to second base. Tolleson walked Marcus Semien, and Stephen Vogt's single to right made it 5-2. Tolleson came back to strike out Billy Butler but at that point had thrown 26 pitches. Manager Jeff Banister decided to bring in Mendez.

"We felt like [Tolleson] was competing but wasn't getting the pitches where he wanted them," Banister said. "Just the pitch count and evaluating the pitches, we felt it was time to make a move and get Mendez out there."

Mendez walked Max Muncy to load the bases. The Rangers had Feliz warming in the bullpen, but Banister, having used Claudio in the seventh, stayed with Mendez to face left-handed-swinging Josh Reddick.

"We've pushed Neftali, and we didn't really like pushing him out there sooner," Banister said.

Reddick singled up the middle as shortstop Elvis Andrus missed a diving catch. That made it 5-4, leaving runners at the corners when the Rangers did bring in Feliz. Lawrie took ball one and fouled off three straight pitches. He took ball two, fouled off another pitch and then came the check-swing call that upset the Rangers. Prince Fielder was especially vocal from the Rangers' dugout.

"You can tell by the reaction what we thought," Banister said. "We're not at the angle of the first-base umpire. He called it the way he saw it. Obviously, our dugout didn't agree."

Lawrie fouled off a 3-2 slider and then lined the go-ahead double. A single by Canha made it 7-5.

A's seven-run 8th inning

"The two walks really hurt us," Banister said. "[Oakland] makes you get ahead and throw strikes. If you get behind, they're not going to get out of their swings. The key to that inning, we were falling behind hitters.

"Those are the three best guys we have coming out of our bullpen. It comes back to throwing quality strikes and putting hitters away. We didn't put hitters away."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.