ARLINGTON (AP) — Corey Seager’s first four-game homer streak comes with the realization that the slugging Texas shortstop might never match what diminutive teammate Josh Smith did an inning later.
Seager connected on his 20th homer leading off the fifth before the rookie Smith got his first home run in the big leagues on an inside-the-park shot as the Rangers held on to beat the Oakland Athletics 10-8 Monday night.
Smith’s one-out liner in the sixth skipped past sliding center fielder Ramón Laureano and rolled to the warning track. The speedy leadoff hitter slid headfirst across the plate easily ahead of the throw, pausing on his belly briefly before getting up and smiling.
“I honestly never expected that to happen. I think that’s like my first one ever, inside the park,” said Smith, the 5-foot-10 third baseman who is closing in on his 25th birthday. “It almost doesn’t even feel like a homer. Try to get one out of here soon.”
The Rangers were to host Oakland again on Tuesday night and then tonight at 7:05, and on Thursday, they’ll open a home series against the Seattle Mariners at that same time. Texas is 40-44 on the season to date; the Mariners are just above them in the American League West Division standings at 45-42.
Seager, the $325 million offseason addition, has been getting plenty of the over-the-fence variety. As for circling the bases without that, well, “Probably never,” Seager said.
The A’s cut an eight-run deficit to two in the eighth and had the potential go-ahead run at the plate in the ninth.
Laureano hit a two-run homer and Chad Pinder connected on a three-run shot off Kolby Allard, who was called up from Triple-A earlier in the day.
Tony Kemp stopped an 0-for-21 skid with a double off Garrett Richards. Sheldon Neuse, who homered against his hometown team for the first time with a solo shot in the fifth, had an RBI groundout before Dennis Santana got Vimael Manchín on a groundout.
“To have an opportunity to win that game from where we were, I’ve said it for most of the season, that this team shows that fight to get back into games,” manager Mark Kotsay said. “Probably one of the best offensive innings of the season.”
Brett Martin struck out two in the ninth and has his first three career saves in his past three outings. The left-hander’s streak of consecutive batters retired ended at 12 with Nick Allen’s two-out single before Elvis Andrus walked and Pinder struck out.
The first of Smith’s three RBIs came on a sacrifice fly popup caught by Andrus, the former Texas shortstop who stumbled over third baseman Manchín in foul territory as Kole Calhoun raced home for a 5-1 Texas lead in the fourth.
Leody Taveras had three hits and three RBIs for the Rangers, both career highs.
Spencer Howard’s defensive gem qualified the right-hander for his second big league win. Facing the potential tying run with two outs in the fifth, the 25-year-old dashed off the mound toward third, grabbed Sean Murphy’s slow bouncer with his bare hand and threw him out.
Howard (1-1) allowed one earned run in five innings.
The Rangers scored their first two runs on a balk and a wild pitch by rookie Adrián Martínez (2-2). The 25-year-old right-hander allowed six runs — four earned — in 4 1/3 innings with four walks and two wild pitches in his fourth career start.
“Tough outing for Adrian, command issues,” Kotsay said. “Game sped up on him there in the second inning. Kind of showed his youthfulness.”
Seager’s four-game homer streak ties Boston’s Rafael Devers and Patrick Wisdom of the Chicago Cubs for the longest in the majors this season. ... Smith was the second player since the start of 2017 with an inside-the-park homer for the first of his career. Zach McKinstry did it with the Los Angeles Dodgers against Colorado last season. Smith is the fourth Texas player with an inside-the-park homer as his first.
The temperature was 75 degrees instead of the normal 72 inside Globe Life Field after officials in charge of the electric grid in Texas asked residents to conserve energy during the hottest part of the day. The first-pitch temperature outside the retractable-roof stadium was 101 on the ninth consecutive day of triple-digit heat and the 18th this year in the Dallas area.
Notes: Catcher/designated hitter Mitch Garver had season-ending surgery for the flexor tendon injury in his right forearm. Sam Huff was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock. ... Right-hander Dane Dunning was placed on the 15-day injured list with a right ankle injury, opening the spot for Allard.