In a season where one bad thing usually leads to another for the A’s, one could forecast the disaster that would hit in the fifth inning Friday.
An error on a sacrifice bunt put Oakland starter Scott Kazmir in a sticky situation. One batter later, Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria crushed a three-run homer to left to turn the game in the Rays’ favor, and they went on to pin a 5-2 defeat on the A’s at Tropicana Field.
The A’s seem to have at least one big mistake in them per game, and inevitably their opponent makes them pay for it. Oakland has dropped the first two of this four-game series, and the A’s have scored just two runs over the first 18 innings in Tampa Bay.
Kazmir, who won his first two starts of the season and posted a 0.99 ERA in April, has now gone seven consecutive outings without a victory. But the ‘W’s simply aren’t there for the taking with Oakland’s offense sputtering as it is right now.
The A’s have scored just 49 runs over the past 17 games (2.88 per game), and they’ve now dropped 14 of their past 16 games.
Starting pitching report
Kazmir (2-3) pitched his way out of trouble early Friday, stranding runners on base in each of the first four innings. But as was the case in his previous start, things went south for him, and defense played a part. With a runner on first in the fifth, Steven Souza Jr. laid down a sacrifice bunt to the right side. First baseman Max Muncy began pursuing the ball, then scrambled back to first as Kazmir fielded it, and Muncy dropped Kazmir’s throw for an error that put runners on the corners with no outs.
The next batter, Longoria, drilled a 1-2 pitch for a three-run homer that erased Oakland’s 1-0 lead. Kazmir went 5 2/3 innings, allowed eight hits and three runs (two earned), and walked three with four strikeouts.
The Rays padded their lead as Souza Jr. homered off Evan Scribner in the seventh and Tim Beckham hit a monster shot off Arnold Leon in the eighth to make it 5-1.
At the plate
Stephen Vogt snapped an eight-game streak without an RBI when he lined a solo homer off Chris Archer (5-4) to open the fourth. But this game was marked by the A’s continued inability to capitalize on their scoring chances. They put runners on second and third with two outs in the first but Archer got Vogt swinging. Billy Burns walked to lead off the fifth and stole second to get into scoring with no outs. He stayed at second, as Eric Sogard popped up, Josh Reddick hit a comebacker and Billy Butler flied out to right.
Opportunity knocked again the very next inning when Vogt and Brett Lawrie opened the sixth with leadoff singles. The A’s would load the bases with one out, but Sam Fuld chased strike three and Burns flied out to center to squash that rally.
The A’s finished 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position, but the bigger picture tells the story. They are 26-for-143 (.182) with runners in scoring position over the last 16 games.
In the field
Muncy’s error was Oakland’s major league-leading 46th of the season, and they’ve committed at least one in 18 of the last 19 games.
12,329 announced in St. Petersburg.
Kendall Graveman (1-2, 8.27) makes his return to the big leagues as he starts in place of the injured Drew Pomeranz. Graveman seemed to regain his form over four Triple-A starts, posting a 1.85 ERA. He’ll oppose Nathan Karns (3-1, 3.77) in Saturday’s 1:10 p.m. game.