A's fall, but Doolittle does a lot in MLB debut

A's fall, but Doolittle does a lot in MLB debut

A's fall, but Doolittle does a lot in MLB debut
OAKLAND -- A repeat performance it wasn't, but the A's still witnessed a memorable one in a 6-3 loss to the Rangers on Tuesday night.

Just 24 hours after righty Jarrod Parker no-hit baseball's most dangerous lineup for seven innings while watching his teammates post a season-high 12 runs, it was Sean Doolittle's turn to steal the show on the mound.

Doolittle, a lefty reliever making his Major League debut with two outs and a runner on third in the fifth, fanned Nelson Cruz on a 96 mph fastball to end the inning. Then he came back out for the sixth and struck out two more, before inducing a soft lineout from Craig Gentry to put the frame to rest.

The four outs didn't dictate the final score, but they surely added to the fairy-tale story being written by Doolittle, who rose from the Class A ranks to the big leagues in a span of just two months after putting down his first baseman's glove last fall in favor of a pitcher's mitt when injury gave him no other choice.

Doolittle threw 21 pitches -- all fastballs -- in his debut, with 13 of them recorded as strikes. Not one dipped below the 93 mph mark.

"It was really surreal," Doolittle said. "It's still kind of sinking in, to be honest. I was so focused on controlling my breathing and trying to calm myself down that it didn't really let me get too worked up about the situation I was coming into or the guys I was going to face. I just kept throwing what [Kurt] Suzuki was calling. I had all the trust in what he was doing back there. He kept putting it down, so I kept throwing it."

"The way they were swinging off it, it just seemed like they weren't seeing it," Suzuki said. "I didn't want to do them a favor and have him throw something slow. We were just moving in and out, fastball in and fastball away.

"He didn't look nervous at all. He looks like he's been up here. He was pounding the strike zone, and usually the nerves will get you there, where you're walking people, but he was going right at them, saying, 'Here, hit it.'"

Yet the southpaw's efforts weren't enough to offset an early five-run lead gained by Texas off Oakland starter Travis Blackley, who pitched two perfect innings before faltering in the third. That's when Ian Kinsler put the Rangers on the board with a two-run double.

Cruz led off the next inning with a double and scored on Yorvit Torrealba's sacrifice fly to extend Texas' lead to four. Michael Young's RBI triple in the fifth furthered the damage.

Meanwhile, the A's stayed quiet through the first four frames against Rangers lefty Derek Holland, before tagging him for two home runs in as many innings, with Collin Cowgill notching his first homer of the season -- a two-run shot to center -- in the fifth and Yoenis Cespedes launching a solo shot to left in the sixth.

It marked Cespedes' sixth home run of the season and first since April 25.

The inning was the last for Holland, but the Rangers' bullpen, led by Alexi Ogando, held the A's scoreless over the final three frames, with Oakland finishing with a 1-for-10 showing with runners in scoring position.

"They're deep," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "They have a lot of options in the bullpen, and they can bring in plus guys in the sixth inning."

Melvin may have found one of his own Tuesday night in Doolittle. Opposing manager Ron Washington would concur.

"I thought he threw the heck out of the ball," Washington said. "He hides it well and he's sneaky quick. Throw 95 miles an hour, that's a pretty good combination. That was some pretty good gas he was throwing. He went through us throwing all fastballs."

"It's pretty impressive," Melvin said. "The guy hasn't even pitched but for this year. To blow through three affiliates, Single-A, Double-A, Triple-A, and then to get here in your first outing and come up against all righties and the best offensive lineup in the American League ... certainly didn't look like it bothered him. He looked like a seasoned veteran out there."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.