ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Jacob deGrom struck out 11 batters in six innings to take the major league lead, showing no ill effects from the right wrist soreness that forced an early exit in his prior start, as the Texas Rangers beat the Oakland Athletics 5-2 on Sunday.
Robbie Grossman hit a three-run homer and finished with four RBIs for the AL West-leading Rangers (14-7), who took two of three from major league-worst Oakland (4-18).
DeGrom (2-0) was pulled from his start last Monday at Kansas City after pitching four hitless innings. He threw 80 pitches on Sunday, allowing a two-run homer to Shea Langeliers. Only one run was earned. The two-time Cy Young Award winner allowed three hits and walked none.
“He’s one of the best for a reason,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “His slider was really good today.”
DeGrom finished by striking out the side on 12 pitches for his 60th career game with double-digit strikeouts, fifth among active pitchers and 15th all time during the modern era. His 43 Ks this season are two ahead of Toronto’s Kevin Gausman, who also fanned 11 on Sunday.
DeGrom, who struck out his final five batters he faced after allowing the home run, said he doesn’t focus on strikeouts.
“It’s just one pitch at a time trying to throw it where I want to the best of my ability,” deGrom said.
Since giving up five earned runs in 3 2/3 innings on opening day to Philadelphia, deGrom has allowed four earned runs in 23 innings (1.56 ERA).
Will Smith worked a scoreless ninth to complete the five-hitter and earn his second save. The Rangers have won six of seven and 10 of 13.
Kyle Muller (0-2), who grew up in nearby Dallas, gave up four runs on seven hits and four walks in five innings.
Muller said he wasn’t unnerved being matched up against deGrom.
“If anything I was more excited about it,” said Muller, who made one previous appearance at Texas, with Atlanta last season. “You want to face a guy like that, just kind of see how you stack up.”
The A’s have lost their first seven series for the first time and their record through 22 games is the worst in franchise history.
Grossman’s homer in the second inning, his second this year, gave Texas a 3-0 lead. He had a sacrifice fly in the fourth after Marcus Semien had an infield hit to second that was called a groundout on the field. Texas successfully challenged the call.
Langeliers, from nearby Keller High and Baylor University, homered on a first-pitch slider from deGrom in the fifth after Jordan Diaz reached on a throwing error by shortstop Ezequiel Duran.
Globe Life Field, which opened in 2020, has a retractable roof primarily because of north Texas’ sapping summer heat. On Sunday, it provided sanctuary from temperatures near 50 degrees at first pitch with intermittent rain.
Sunday’s crowd was 34,916, second largest at Globe Life Field this season to the 38,387 on opening day.
Oakland starters are winless through a franchise-record 22 games to begin the season (0-11) … Rangers C Jonah Heim singled in the third inning, giving him a career-best 12-game on-base streak. … Texas CF Leody Taveras matched a career best with three hits. … The national anthem was sung by a 10-student choir from Muller’s high school, Jesuit College Prep.
A’s: RHP Drew Rucinski (strained left hamstring) was scheduled to throw 75 pitches on Sunday in a rehab appearance for Triple-A Las Vegas.
Athletics: The road trip continues with LHP Ken Waldichuk (0-2, 7.65 ERA) facing the Los Angeles Angels in the opener of a four-game series on Monday.
Rangers: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (2-2, 5.40) on Monday will open a three-game road series against Cincinnati Reds and LHP Nick Lodolo (2-1, 4.98).