ARLINGTON -- As the A's are well aware, possibly more so than any other team in the Majors thanks to an ever-growing disabled list, there's really no such thing as good timing when it comes to injuries.
Bad timing, on the other hand? Yes.
Really bad timing? Most definitely.
Brett Anderson and Co. will tell you all about it.
The A's lefty, looking to guide his club to an opening victory in a pivotal three-game set with the Rangers, watched that chance fade -- and fade quickly -- in Friday's 7-3 loss, when he exited after allowing four runs in just two frames due to a mild hyperextension of his right knee.
Anderson's rough go of it made for quite the less-than-warm welcome into the Texas heat, in which the A's fell one game behind the .500 mark and 9 1/2 behind the Rangers in the American League West -- where they set out to gain ground this weekend on a Texas team that has now won six of its past eight.
The loss not only seemingly put into question Oakland's future, but Anderson's, as well. The A's southpaw was immediately tagged for three runs in the first thanks to RBI hits from Vladimir Guerrero and David Murphy, representing just the third time all season an A's starter has given up three or more runs in the first.
In the second, Anderson put Andres Blanco on base via a base hit and proceeded to move him to second on a wild pitch -- one that came as a result of sliding in Texas starter Tommy Hunter's mound hole and falling, which brought out A's trainer Steve Sayles and manager Bob Geren.
"It's weird, because I'm taller than Tommy Hunter, but his stride's longer and his hole is farther than mine, so instead of landing on the ball of my foot, my knee just locked and I hyperextended it," Anderson said. "I just didn't feel real comfortable after that."
Anderson remained in the game, but only to give up back-to-back singles, the last of which brought home Blanco. He then induced a double-play ball from Michael Young and walked Josh Hamilton before getting Guerrero on an infield popup to end the frame and stop the bleeding at four runs.
That was all the A's could get out of him, though, as the 22-year-old Anderson left after two frames due to his knee injury. His four runs allowed put an end to an A's record-tying streak of 18 consecutive quality starts by an Oakland pitcher. Furthermore, his two innings pitched halted a streak of 24 consecutive games with six innings or more by the starters -- a mark that was one outing short of tying the Oakland record.
"After the fact," Anderson said, "you're kind of disappointed in the fact you didn't keep the streak going. That's the fun of pitching -- you're just trying to fit in and go along with what everyone else is doing. When everyone's throwing out quality starts and you're the odd man out, you don't ever want to be that guy.
"You never really want to take yourself out or come out of the game, but it was for precautionary measures. It's kind of unfortunate because I was throwing pretty good up to this point. I liked where I was at, but stuff happens. You can't really control where [Hunter] puts his foot."
As long as Saturday doesn't bring much pain, Anderson said he'll be good to go for his next start on Wednesday in New York. Righty Boof Bonser was brought in to relieve him on Friday, and he retired the side in order in the third before surrendering three runs in the fourth thanks to RBI hits from Young and Hamilton. Bonser, pitching for the first time since Aug. 16, gave the A's four-plus innings, giving up three runs on seven hits with one walk and two strikeouts.
A handful of those hits, however, were infield hits. Of the 15 hits the Rangers compiled, six came on the infield -- another nod to a rather frustrating night for the A's, who collected eight hits -- two of them on homers from Kevin Kouzmanoff and Daric Barton off Hunter.
"I was just trying to help the bullpen, so we didn't have to use all our guys, that was the big thing," Bonser said. "The infield hits -- that's awful. That's one of those where, as a pitcher, you'd rather have them just hit bullets off the wall. That's baseball, though."
"They really didn't hit the ball that hard off any of our guys tonight," Geren said. "We actually made more loud contact than they did. They got seven runs, but they had six infield hits and a bloop double. They hit a couple balls well, obviously, but they got some breaks and they took advantage of it."
Hamilton, for one, made plenty of noise with his bat, recording his Major League-best 24th game of three or more hits this season for a Rangers record. On Friday, he had three hits, a walk and an RBI.
"He's amazing right now," Mark Ellis said. "It's almost like they need a higher league for him, the way he's swinging the bat, and then doing what he does out there on the field. He's really good, very good."
Ellis, a veteran, has been around the game long enough to not only appreciate a talent such as Hamilton, but to know that Rangers Ballpark at Arlington has brought about some interesting scenes in his years.
"They had a lot of infield hits, and I thought we actually swung the bats well, just right at guys," he said. "It's something that happens. It's a weird ballpark, and strange things seem to happen here. Usually the ball's flying here."
The A's put up a fight in the ninth against Rangers closer Neftali Feliz, putting guys on first and second with one out, but Cliff Pennington lined out to third base and Coco Crisp followed with a flyout to put an end to the threat and seal the deal on a tough loss.
"Against a team that's winning the division, that's not really how you want to come out or start a series, but we battled back and put some pressure on their guys," Anderson said. "If we can take that and couple it with the pitching we've been getting before today, we should be good to go. We'll start that streak of quality starts again tomorrow.
"We've still got a chance to win the series," noted Ellis. "Obviously, it would have been nice to get a win tonight and have a chance at the sweep, but if we can win the series we won't be out of it. There's still a month left in the season. They're a good team, a really good team, but we know we can compete with them. We're definitely not giving up just because we lost tonight."