ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin had difficulty finding any words. A 6-0 loss to the Texas Rangers seemed so trivial after the game was marred by the death of a man who fell out of the stands trying to catch a ball.
``When you think you've had a bad day, something like that puts things in perspective,' Melvin said. ``It's just devastating. I don't even know what to say. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. ... Certainly baseball is not very important in light of something like that.'
The Rangers and Arlington fire officials said the man, who was attending the game with his young son, fell about 20 feet to the ground
The accident happened in the second inning after Oakland's Conor Jackson hit a foul ball that ricocheted into left field. Reigning AL MVP Josh Hamilton retrieved the ball and tossed it into the stands. Replays on Oakland's television broadcast show the man reaching for the ball and apparently catching it before tumbling over the rail.
That area, out of sight from the field, is close to the visitor's bullpen.
Athletics reliever Brad Ziegler was in tears after the game when he found out the man had died.
``They had him on a stretcher. He said, 'Please check on my son. My son was up there by himself.' The people who carried him out reassured him. 'Sir, we'll get your son, we'll make sure he's OK,'' Ziegler said. ``He had his arms swinging. He talked and was conscious. We assumed he was OK. But when you find out he's not, it's just tough.'
There was an audible gasp in the stands when the man tumbled over the rail, eerily similar to an accident last July at Rangers Ballpark when a man fell about 30 feet from the second-deck of seats down the right-field line while trying to catch a foul ball. That fan suffered a fractured skull and sprained ankle.
Rich Harden (1-1) gave up five runs and eight hits over five innings in his second start of the season for the A's.
``(The game) didn't really matter after what happened,' said Harden, who was with Texas last season. ``It's horrible. You try to refocus. You have a job to do. But it's hard to ignore that.'
Rangers president Nolan Ryan said he had spoken to the team and that they knew what had happened.
``I think as any of us would be, Josh is very distraught over this, as the entire team is,' Ryan said.
The Rangers clubhouse was closed to reporters after the game.
Hamilton was selected earlier this week to start his fourth consecutive All-Star game next week. Washington said he would wait before determining if Hamilton would play against the A's on Friday night.
``I think we'll deal with that tomorrow when he gets here, to see how he feels,' Washington said.
It is the second fatal fall at a MLB ballpark this season. In May, a 27-year-old man died after he fell about 20 feet and struck his head on concrete during a Colorado Rockies game.
Hamilton had four RBIs in the game to back a four-hit shutout by Derek Holland (7-4), who rebounded from his shortest outing ever.
Holland's third career shutout came five days after he gave up five runs and four hits while getting only two outs in a start against Florida. The left-hander struck out seven and walked two while allowing only four singles against the A's.
``Obviously, he was outstanding,' Washington said. ``He came out and pounded the strike zone from the very first pitch. He never looked back and stayed focus.'
After Kurt Suzuki's single in the fifth, Holland retired 10 consecutive batters without a ball leaving the infield before giving up a pair of singles and a walk in the ninth.
Hamilton drove in a run in each of his first four at_bats, putting Texas ahead to stay with an RBI groundout in the first. The outfielder added a run-scoring single in the third before two sacrifice fly balls after that.
This was the makeup of a May 11 game that was rained out after Texas built a 7-0 lead through four innings.
Before the Rangers batted in the second, Washington spoke briefly with one of the umpires. Michael Young, who was leading off the inning, could be seen talking to A's catcher Suzuki and pointing toward the area where the previous accident happened.
It was the 10th time this season that Oakland was held scoreless.
Notes: Young led off the fifth with his eighth homer. That was also his 959th career run, breaking his tie with Rafael Palmeiro for the most in the Washington/Texas franchise history. Young was already the team's career leader in games played, hits, doubles and triples. ... Oakland is 5-10 since a season-high six-game winning streak. ... Harden, who pitched with Texas last season, is 5-3 against the Rangers.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved