OAKLAND -– Mike Trout keeps finding ways to haunt the A’s.
The Angels MVP center fielder made a leaping catch at the wall to rob Ike Davis for the final out with the bases loaded, and the A’s fell 6-5 on Thursday after rallying from a four-run deficit.
Seemingly down for the count, the A’s suddenly sprung to life in the ninth off Los Angeles’ bullpen.
It was 6-2 to start the bottom of the ninth, but Brett Lawrie and Mark Canha each delivered RBI singles to close deficit to two. After pinch-hitter Stephen Vogt walked to load the bases, Max Muncy popped up but Sam Fuld came through with a run-scoring single to center. Canha had to stop at third on the hit to keep the bases loaded and the score 6-5.
After Marcus Semien popped up for the second out, Davis drove a ball deep to center, but Trout left his feet and hauled in the game-saving catch for the Angels.
The defeat completed a 1-5 homestand at the Coliseum that leaves the A’s 4-9 at home for the season. That matches the worst 13-game home start in Oakland history, and if you’re looking to diagnose what ills the A’s so far in 2015, their inability to defend their turf is a good starting place.
They were swept by the first-place Houston Astros, then dropped two of three to the Angels after taking Tuesday’s series opener. Though the prospect of a second consecutive 10-game road trip doesn’t sound too appealing, maybe the best thing for the A’s is to get a change of scenery. They open their three-city trek with a three-gamer at Texas beginning Friday.
Looking at the broader picture, the A’s also will be happy to turn the calendar to May. They finished April with a losing record for the first time since 2012, and their 9-14 record marks just the second time in the last 14 years that they’ve finished more than two games under .500 for the month.
Starting pitching report
While the A’s bullpen justifiably has received criticism, the starters have not been pitching deep enough into games either. Jesse Chavez’s start Thursday marked the fourth time in the past five games that an Oakland starter didn’t complete more than five innings. Johnny Giavotella, a thorn in the A’s side so far this season, gave the Angels a lead with a two-out RBI single in the third.
The visitors added three more off Chavez (0-2) in the fifth. With two on, one out and first base open, Mike Trout was intentionally walked to load the bases. Kole Calhoun followed with a two-run single through the right side. The A’s couldn’t complete the double play on David Freese’s fielder’s choice grounder, and that allowed Trout to score to make it 4-0.
Chavez -– making his second start and his first in place of the demoted Kendall Graveman -– gave up four runs on seven hits over five innings. He struck out five and walked three.
Lefty Eric O’Flaherty, who began the season as a setup man but has struggled, entered in the sixth with Oakland trailing 4-0. He retired the first two batters but then walked Taylor Featherston and gave up Erick Aybar’s run-scoring double.
At the plate
The lone bright spot for the A’s early on came from Canha, who made his return to the lineup and had two hits, including a two-run homer in the seventh. Canha came in hitting just .147 over his previous 10 games, but he hadn’t started a game since last Friday. He’d been battling an allergy/bronchitis type of ailment that manager Bob Melvin said kept Canha unavailable for a couple of games.
With Stephen Vogt getting a day off, Davis hit third and Reddick moved up to the fifth spot. But the A’s couldn’t muster much of anything against the hard-throwing Richards, who held them to four hits over six-plus innings.
In the field
Lawrie’s errant throw to first was Oakland’s only error on the day.
A crowd of 19,534 showed up on a warm afternoon at the Coliseum.
The A’s hit the road for another 10-game, three-city trek that begins Friday at Texas. Scott Kazmir (2-0, 0.99) matches up against Colby Lewis (1-2, 3.75) in the 5:05 p.m. opener. Saturday – Drew Pomeranz (1-2, 4.50) vs. Nick Martinez (2-0, 0.35), 5:05 p.m. Sunday – Sonny Gray (3-0, 1.98) vs. Yovani Gallardo (2-3, 4.05), 12:05 p.m. All three games will air on CSN California.