OAKLAND –- The A’s problems began Friday with another rough outing for Sonny Gray.
They certainly didn’t end there.
Sloppy defense combined with an uninspired night at the plate to help produce an 8-3 defeat to the New York Yankees that was much uglier than the final score indicated.
It was one of the A’s poorest overall games of 2016, and the polar opposite of the caliber of play that marked their three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers to begin this homestand. Since then, the A’s have dropped the first two of this four-game series against the Yankees, who reside in the American League East cellar and arrived in Oakland with a 5-12 road record.
The A’s committed three errors and mustered just six hits, and in so doing they dropped a game in the AL West standings for the second day in a row. They trail first-place Seattle by six.
All of those sobering details aside, the A’s primary concern still has to be Gray (3-5), who failed to make it through four innings for the third time in his past five starts. He walked four, uncorked three wild pitches and surrendered five runs (four earned) over 3 1/3 innings. That leaves the right-hander 0-4 with a 10.38 ERA over his past five outings. His overall ERA rose to 6.19.
All told, it was a stinker of an effort before a large crowd on hand for the A’s first fireworks night of the season.
Starting pitching report
Gray said he drew confidence from his last start in Tampa Bay, when he gave up three home runs but felt that he hit on a tweak of his mechanics that would help his command moving forward. Whatever positive step that was appeared to be negated Friday, when he threw just 53 of his 98 pitches for strikes. He’s clearly still searching for the command he typically showed over the previous 2 1/2 seasons.
Ryan Dull and Andrew Triggs finished out the final 5 2/3 innings to save more wear and tear on the relief corps.
At the plate
After flexing their muscles with such an encouraging display of power leading into this series, the A’s have been held to a total of four runs and 12 hits in their two losses to the Yankees. The loss of No. 3 hitter Josh Reddick to a fractured thumb Thursday night is a significant blow to the offense moving forward. But on this night, Reddick’s presence probably wouldn’t have made a difference. Reserve catcher Matt McBride, drawing a start as the DH, gave the A’s an early lead with his RBI single in the second.
In the field
Where to begin? Crisp failed to come up with two catches that instead went for hits that scored four runs total. He made a long run to left-center and appeared to have a bead on Ronald Torreyes’ deep drive, but the ball fell just beyond his glove for a two-run triple that erased the A’s 1-0 lead. After Gray’s wild pitch scored Torreyes, Crisp broke in on Carlos Beltran’s liner before quickly reversing course and watching it sail over his head for a two-run double to put the Yankees up 5-1. Manager Bob Melvin came to get Gray afterward.
But the bumbling defense didn’t end there. Shortstop Marcus Semien turned in his shakiest game in a while, making a throwing error to first and double-clutching on Brett Gardner’s grounder up the middle to allow the speedster to beat out a single. Billy Butler, drawing another start at first base against the lefty Sabathia, let a routine foul pop fall to the ground for what was ruled an error.
The announced turnout was 28,235. That’s roughly 7,000 short of a sellout, and fireworks nights often draw a full house. But the schedule makers sure didn’t do the A’s any favors by laying it out so the Chicago Cubs were playing across the bay at AT&T Park at the same time the Yankees are at the Coliseum.
After claiming his first major league victory his last time out, Sean Manaea (1-1, 7.91) takes the ball Saturday with Masahiro Tanaka (1-0, 3.51) going for the Yankees. First pitch is 1:05 p.m.