OAKLAND — A’s manager Mark Kotsay has developed a formula for late-game situations with a lead this season by relying heavily on a trio of relievers. Heading into Friday night, though, he knew strategizing for such a situation would be a bit more complex.
A three-run lead against the Rangers after six innings presented a seventh-inning spot typically reserved for Domingo Acevedo. But with the right-hander among the league leaders in appearances — and having pitched three times over the previous four days — Kotsay had already planned to give him the night off.
With Acevedo unavailable, the ideal workaround plan was for starter Cole Irvin, who’d limited Texas to two runs across the first six innings, to complete the seventh. That way, setup man Zach Jackson and closer Dany Jiménez could still line up for their usual roles with plenty of cushion. But once Irvin reached 93 pitches in the seventh on a one-out single allowed to Kole Calhoun, Kotsay opted for Justin Grimm as his first arm out of the bullpen.
Grimm, seldom-used in high-leverage scenarios this year, was thrust into a big spot and struggled. He retired just one of three batters faced, and by the time he walked off the mound as he was replaced by Jackson, Oakland’s lead shrunk from three runs to one. After Jackson allowed a game-tying double to Adolis García in the eighth, Jiménez surrendered three runs in the ninth, capping a…