ARLINGTON -- The death of a fan in the outfield stands overshadowed any thoughts of baseball in the A's 6-0 loss to the Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Thursday.
The fan was attempting to grab a ball flipped into the stands by Rangers left fielder Josh Hamilton. The ball had been fouled off by Oakland's Conor Jackson, and caromed toward Hamilton, who decided to toss the potential souvenir into the stands as many players typically do. As the fan got his hands on the ball, he tumbled over the top rail of the left-field seats, falling approximately 20 feet to the area just behind the outfield wall.
The man died on his way to the hospital, due to injuries sustained in the fall.
"When you think you've had a bad day, something like that puts things in perspective," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "It is devastating. I don't even know what to say. Obviously, our thoughts and prayers are with the family."
Some of the people closest to the fan were the A's players in the bullpen, which was roughly 70 feet away from where the man fell.
Even though he was attended to by stadium personnel immediately, the players could still hear pieces of the conversation.
"When they had him on a stretcher and they were carrying him out, he was saying stuff like 'Please check on my son, he's left up there by himself,'" reliever Brad Ziegler said. "The people that carried him out reassured him that, 'We'll get your son, we'll make sure he's OK.' We just kind of assumed that he's talking, he's conscious, he'll be OK. To find out he's not is just ... tough."
The A's understandably looked distracted, notching just four hits against Derek Holland. The only Athletics player to get a hit against him in the first eight innings was Kurt Suzuki, who collected two hits.
Holland, who had struggled mightily in his last outing, kept the A's off balance all game, striking out seven batters in the shutout.
"He threw more curveballs than we saw in our reports," Melvin said. "Good changeup, really both sides of the plate. He was able to pitch in as a left-hander, and make right-handers aware of the inside. It opens up for balls away. His offspeed stuff, we were just in between. This was the first game in a while where I just didn't feel we were in it."
The A's made a run in the ninth, loading the bases with two outs on two singles and a walk. But Jackson flied out to right field to end the game, and preserve Holland's shutout.
Holland allowed four hits and two walks, with seven strikeouts.
Holland's opposite number, Rich Harden, did not look anywhere near as sharp in allowing five runs over five innings -- ultimately earning the loss.
"He was behind a little bit, maybe more than he was last game," Melvin said. "There were some balls up, some breaking balls. Usually with the fastballs, he can pitch up in the zone and get away with it, because his breaking ball is down. Early on, I think he left some breaking balls up that they took advantage of, and they got some better counts this time."
The damage started on the first batter, when Ian Kinsler doubled to lead off the Rangers' half of the first inning. A bunt and an RBI groundout helped plate Kinsler with the first run. But the Rangers didn't stop there, tacking on runs in four of the next five innings.
"Rich was Rich," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Harden. "We made him get the ball up, and made him work hard. He certainly wasn't erratic, and it was a different Rich than what we saw last year. He competed hard."
While the Rangers did not batter Harden -- only tallying three extra-base hits off him -- they were consistently able to use timely hits to drive in baserunners.
After the game, Harden said that he struggled to focus on his pitching after the fan's fall.
"You've got to try to refocus and see the job to do. But yeah, it's hard to just ignore that," Harden said.
Harden was with the Rangers one year and one day ago, when another Rangers fan fell from the second deck chasing a foul ball.
"The game doesn't really matter, you know what I mean?" Harden said. "Obviously, it does. But with what happened tonight, it was incredible."
Louie Horvath is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.