OAKLAND – Just as swiftly as the A’s snatched the momentum Tuesday, it was stolen right back from them.
No sooner had Yonder Alonso’s two-run single tied the game in the eighth that Jimmy Rollins countered in the ninth, delivering a home run off Sean Doolittle to give the Chicago White Sox a 5-4 victory at the Coliseum.
The game boiled down to two swings of the bat from White Sox hitters. Todd Frazier pounded a three-run homer off Chris Bassitt in the fifth to erase the A’s 1-0 lead. Then Rollins, the 17-year veteran and Oakland native, administered his punch to the gut.
Yes, this all should read very familiar.
The A’s have dropped their first two games of 2016, and both have been one-run contests. Their 2015 season was marked by an Oakland-record 35 one-run losses.
It was a mostly frustrating night for the A’s offensively until Alonso singled sharply to right with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth to pull Oakland even at 4-4. Doolittle retired the first two batters in the ninth before giving up Rollins’ blast on a 2-2 fastball.
Starting pitching report
Bassitt held the Sox to three hits over four scoreless innings to start his night. In the fifth, he struck out No. 3 hitter Jose Abreu for the second out of the inning with two on. He got ahead of Frazier 0-2 – on a 95 mile-per-hour fastball and a 72 mile-per-hour curve – and seemingly had the advantage. But when he came back with another curve, Frazier went down and got it and drove a three-run homer over the wall in left-center to erase Oakland’s 1-0 lead. The right-hander left after 5 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on eight hits. He struck out four and walked two.
Until the ninth, it was shaping up as another good night for Oakland’s bullpen. Liam Hendriks in particular shined, throwing 2 2/3 perfect innings in his A’s debut.
At the plate
Until Alonso’s big hit, the A’s were generating base runners but couldn’t figure out how to drive enough of them in. The exception was Jed Lowrie, who has driven in four of the A’s seven runs they’ve scored through two games. Each of his run-scoring hits have come with two outs.
Sox lefty Jose Quintana limited Oakland to two runs over 5 2/3 innings, striking out seven and walking none.
In the field
Frazier never would have had a chance to hit his three-run homer in the fifth had the A’s gotten an out on an earlier grounder in the inning from Rollins. He hit a slow bouncer to Lowrie at second, but instead of taking the out at first, Lowrie flipped an underhand toss to second and it wasn’t in time. That gave the Sox an extra out, and Frazier wound up making the A’s pay.
The A’s always experience a big drop-off in attendance the game after Opening Night, but Tuesday’s turnout of 10,478 was more extreme than most seasons.
It comes two days later than expected, but Sonny Gray (14-7, 2.73 last year) makes his season debut against Carlos Rodon (9-6, 3.75) in Wednesday’s 7:05 p.m. game.