OAKLAND – Unlucky number seven did the A’s in once again.
With the score tied and another game within its grasp, Oakland saw its fortunes take a wrong turn in the seventh inning Saturday night. That paved the way to a 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox, their ninth defeat in the past 10 games.
The seventh inning has been nothing short of disastrous for the A’s in 2015. In 38 games, they’ve allowed 37 runs in the inning, by far the most in the majors. It was 2-2 before the Sox scored twice off reliever Fernando Rodriguez in the seventh, a rally that was ignited by Rodriguez’s two-base throwing error to first.
The A’s (13-25) came home looking to put the breaks on their season-long skid. Instead, it’s merely picked up steam. They are 1-4 on this six-game homestand that wraps Sunday, and they’ve fallen 11 ½ games off the pace in the American League West.
A big crowd showed up for the first fireworks night of the season at the Coliseum. But on a night when the A’s could have sent a charge through the home fans, they instead dropped another close one to fall to 1-13 in one-run contests. They’re 5-13 at home, tied with Texas for the worst home record in the majors.
Starting pitching report:
Jesse Chavez continued a streak of stellar starting pitching for Oakland on this homestand. He held the Sox to two runs over six innings, allowing eight hits, striking out three and walking two. Over five games on this homestand, A’s starters have posted a 2.23 ERA (8 ER in 32 1/3 IP). He dodged trouble in the second with help from his defense. Then he worked out of a no-out jam with runners on the corners in the sixth.
Both runs off Chavez came in the third when Avisail Garcia singled up the middle with two outs to score Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera.
Rodriguez had provided a glimmer of hope that perhaps he could be a reliable late-inning relief option for manager Bob Melvin ahead of closer Tyler Clippard. But he’s entered each of the past two nights in the seventh, and Chicago has put together a go-ahead rally. Friday’s outing wasn’t necessarily Rodriguez’s fault as his defense compounded problems. But Saturday, he made the big throwing error and then allowed a single and double to Melky Cabrera and Jose Abreu that scored two runs for a 4-2 Sox lead.
At the plate:
The A’s were in business in the bottom of the eighth, as singles from Billy Burns and Marcus Semien put runners on the corners with no outs and Oakland trailing 4-2. But Josh Reddick grounded into a 4-6-3 double play that scored a run but stymied a potentially bigger rally. Billy Butler and Stephen Vogt followed with singles, but after Sox closer David Robertson was called upon, Brett Lawrie flied out to center and the A’s remained down 4-3.
In the field:
The way things have played out, it’s a matter of when – not if – the A’s defense will break down. The costly mistake Saturday came in the seventh, when Rodriguez fielded Adam Eaton's bunt and threw the ball into right field for a two-base error that put Sanchez on third. Cabrera served a go-ahead single into left-center and Abreu brought him home with a double to left-center for a 4-2 lead.
The A’s have now committed an error in 13 consecutive games, their longest such streak since a 13-gamer from April 7-21, 1983. They’ve made 17 errors over those 13 contests and have committed 38 overall, padding their major league lead.
After Stephen Vogt was caught in a game-ending rundown between third and home Friday night, the A’s got a small measure of revenge in the second inning Saturday. With Garcia at second, Connor Gillaspie singled to right. Garcia rounded third and put the breaks on. Josh Reddick’s throw from right field was way up the third base line, but Garcia was caught in a rundown and tagged out, and Chavez escaped the inning unscored upon.
The first fireworks night of the season drew 28,445 fans.
The weekend’s best pitching matchup is saved for Sunday’s 1:05 p.m. series finale, as Scott Kazmir (2-1, 2.78) matches up against Jeff Samardzija (2-2, 4.80). It’s the A’s first time facing Samardzija since he was traded during the winter meetings, though he did pitch against them in a Cactus League game.