OAKLAND – For all the talk about the A’s being a break or two away from winning so many close games, the truth is that they’ve played their way into their current predicament.
A 7-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Sunday finished off a 1-5 homestand that leaves Oakland with the major leagues’ worst record at 13-26. They committed four errors as the South Siders completed a three-game sweep before a Coliseum crowd that could only gasp as the A’s defense committed blunder after blunder. Oakland now has a whopping 42 errors in 39 games, and there’s no way to spin things other than to say the A’s are playing a consistently poor brand of baseball.
They are now 12 ½ games out of first place and have lost 10 of their past 11 overall.
The A’s have lost 13 games by just a run, but Sunday’s was no nail-biter. They led 2-1 after Max Muncy’s two-run homer in the fourth off former Athletic Jeff Samardzija (3-2). But Chicago broke through for four runs in the fifth to highlight a trait of the A’s current slide – they just can’t sustain the good vibes when they do swing momentum in their favor.
They’ve also lost 12 of their past 14 home games and are 5-14 overall at the Coliseum, which for the past couple of years has proven one of the more tougher ballparks for opponents to win in.
Now the A’s head back on the road for a seven-game road trip to Houston and Tampa Bay, looking to do anything to put the brakes on their downward slide.
Starting pitching report
Scott Kazmir (2-2) lasted just 4 1/3 innings as his defense ensured he wouldn’t last long in this one. Not that the lefty helped himself. He committed one of the A’s two errors in the first, then walked in a run before he exited in the fifth. Kazmir seemed to have the stuff to pitch deeper as he struck out six. But he racked up 103 pitches in less than five innings and hasn’t won since April 13.
Dan Otero, Fernando Abad and Tyler Clippard finished things out after Kazmir, and Clippard gave up Avisail Garcia’s two-run homer in the ninth.
At the plate
Muncy gave the home crowd reason to cheer when he mashed an 0-2 pitch from Samardzija over the wall in center for his first career homer. It wasn’t nearly enough as Samardzija went eight innings and scattered eight hits against his former team to get the win.
In the field
Officially the A’s were charged with four errors, and several other misplays didn’t show up in the scorebook on an afternoon that showed just how erratic Oakland can be with the glove at any given moment. It started when Kazmir couldn’t find the handle on Emilio Bonifacio’s bunt for an error that put runners on the corners. He should have been out of the first with no runs when he got a one-out comebacker from Avisail Garcia with the bases loaded. Kazmir threw home for the force, but Stephen Vogt’s throw to first sailed high, and Muncy didn’t leave his feet on a ball he probably should have stopped. The error went to Vogt.
Shortstop Marcus Semien made the first of his two errors to open the fifth when he couldn’t cleanly field Adam Eaton’s one-hopper. Three batters later, Jose Abreu’s sharp grounder got past Brett Lawrie for an RBI single. Garcia followed with a bouncer that Eric Sogard had trouble with, though Kazmir may not have covered the bag in time anyway. After Kazmir walked in a run, Kazmir had Alexei Ramirez’s bouncer deflect off his glove for a two-run single that put the Sox ahead 5-2.
It was about as deflating a sequence as a team could experience after jumping up 2-1 in the previous inning.
The announced turnout was 33,195 on Little League Day, and the A’s didn’t exactly put on a clinic for the youngsters.
It wasn’t long ago that a three-game series against the Astros could be viewed as a schedule breather. But the A’s will head to Houston simply trying not to lose more ground to the surprise AL West leaders. Drew Pomeranz (2-3, 4.42) and Lance McCullers (major league debut) will match up in Monday’s 5:10 p.m. game that begins the A’s seven-game road trip. Tuesday – Sonny Gray (4-1, 1.61) vs. Roberto Hernandez (1-3, 4.12), 5:10 p.m. Wednesday – Jesse Hahn (1-3, 4.42) vs. lefty Dallas Keuchel (5-0, 1.87), 11:10 a.m. All three games will air on CSN California.