SEATTLE – Opportunity presents itself this homestand as the A’s play six consecutive games against teams with sub-.500 records.
They’ll need to improve on Tuesday’s clunker of a performance against the Texas Rangers.
The A’s turned in a poor defensive game against the worst team, record-wise, in the major leagues. The result was a 6-3 defeat, the kind of head-scratching performance that calls into question just how ready for the postseason this team will be if indeed it qualifies.
Oakland committed two errors that led to two unearned runs and generated just six hits against the Rangers, who are 58-92 but have now won four in a row and look up for the challenge of playing the spoiler role in the American League West.
The A’s were down 6-2 by the fifth inning, and there was nothing to suggest that they’d be working any magic in front of the home fans in the opener of this nine-game homestand.
Oakland maintained a one-game lead over Kansas City for the top wild card but is just two games ahead of Seattle.
Starting pitching report
Scott Kazmir’s final line was ugly – 4 1/3 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 4 ER – but he wasn’t as bad as the numbers indicated. The glove work was shaky behind him, and four of Texas’ nine hits off him never left the infield.
The lefty’s recent stats are very poor -- he’s 0-4 with an 8.22 ERA over his past five starts – but he was sharp in his previous outing, and his defense abandoned him in this one. Kazmir was hardly the A’s biggest concern Tuesday night.
Ryan Cook gave up Rougned Odor’s RBI single after relieving Kazmir in the fifth, but the damage was done by the time the bullpen really factored into this one.
At the plate
Brandon Moss homered for the second consecutive game, a very encouraging sign for the A’s. Josh Reddick had a sacrifice fly and Derek Norris a run-scoring infield single in a two-run fourth that closed Oakland’s deficit to 3-2. But there wasn’t enough offense to jump back into this one.
In the field
Where to begin? The A’s were charged with two errors, but that didn’t do justice to their defensive sloppiness.
There were multiple miscues during the Rangers’ three-run fourth, a rally that was sparked by Jake Smolinski’s two-run homer. Rougned Odor hit what should have been a 6-3 grounder, but shortstop Jed Lowrie was too nonchalant in unloading his throw and Odor beat it out. Daniel Robertson followed by chopping a single into right field. As right fielder Josh Reddick threw to second and Lowrie applied the tag to nail Robertson, the A’s seemed completely unaware that Odor never slowed rounding third and scored easily on the play to make it 3-0. Leonys Martin followed with a bunt single to the right side where no one covered first base in time, though that play didn’t lead to a run.
Lowrie’s struggles throwing the ball Tuesday lead to the question of how much of an issue his injured index finger still is. He said when he returned from the disabled list Sept. 1 that the finger was good enough to play, but not full strength. He seems unable to get much on his throws across the diamond, and in the fifth, he sailed a throw over Brandon Moss’ head for an error that allowed Adrian Beltre to score. Texas added three more that inning to open up a 6-2 lead.
The Rangers also stole two bases. Neither of catcher Derek Norris’ throws had a chance to get to the runner, and for the second game in a row, one of his throws went into center field for an error and allowed the runner to advance. The A’s entered the night having allowed the highest stolen-base percentage in the majors at 83.3 percent, which would set a new Oakland record.
The announced turnout was 19,835.
The A’s get their first look this season at Derek Holland (1-0, 0.86), the Rangers lefty who missed the first five months while recovering from knee surgery. He has a 3.26 ERA at the Coliseum, the fourth-lowest ERA of any opposing starter in Oakland since 2010. Jeff Samardzija (4-5, 3.41) goes for the A’s in Wednesday’s 7:05 p.m. game.