ANAHEIM – The A’s chalked up yet another one-run defeat Saturday, but you can’t say they’re always doing it the same way.
A night after the bullpen gave away a late lead, the A’s bats went into a deep freeze in a 1-0 blanking by the Los Angeles Angels. C.J. Wilson and two relievers combined on a two-hitter as the A’s failed to take advantage of Kendall Graveman’s excellent start.
The young right-hander went a career-high eight innings and notched the first complete game of his career. His only mistake was a 2-2 pitch in the first that Albert Pujols mashed for a homer to left. It wound up being the difference in the game.
The A’s arrived in Anaheim hoping to make a move on the Angels, two spots above them in third place in the A.L. West. Instead, they’ve dropped the first two of this three-game series, both by one run. They’re a dreadful 4-18 in one-run games and 7-27 in games decided by two runs or fewer. Both are the worst marks in the majors.
Starting pitching report
After Pujols’ early homer, Graveman settled in for the best start of his career. He went the distance, allowing eight hits over eight innings, striking out seven and walking none.
Over the past 20 games, A’s starters are 9-6 with a 2.09 ERA. They’ve allowed one run or fewer in 11 of those 20.
The relief corps got the night off but didn’t have much to cheer for.
At the plate
Though the A’s came in having won two of their past four games started by an opposing left-hander, they had little answer for Wilson on Saturday night. The veteran came in having allowed a combined 11 earned runs over his past two starts, but he’s now won 12 of his past 15 decision at home.
He had the A’s off-balance throughout most of his seven innings, striking out eight and allowing just two hits and three walks. But the A’s weren’t without their chances. They had runners at second and third with two outs in the fifth, but hot-hitting Sam Fuld struck out on a check-swing. In the seventh, a walk and an Erick Aybar fielding error put runners at first and second with one out. But Stephen Vogt hit a liner that was snared by first baseman Efren Navarro. He threw to second and doubled off Josh Phegley, who got caught way too far off the bag, and that was the end of that rally.
Oakland’s 3-13 mark in games started by a lefty is the worst in the majors.
In the field
Josh Phegley threw out two runners attempting to steal second, making him 9-for-19 on the season in that department. The A’s figured they were getting a strong-armed catcher who would help control the running game when they acquired Phegley from the White Sox in the Jeff Samardzija deal, and he’s been just as advertised. That’s one area where the A’s have shown clear improvement over last season.
The Angels announced a sellout crowd of 43,540.
Sonny Gray (7-3, 1.74) has been stingy in most situations this season, but he’s been particularly dominant in four starts during the day, when he’s posted a 0.69 ERA. Perhaps that bodes well for the A’s in Sunday’s 12:35 p.m. series finale. Gray will oppose Matt Shoemaker (4-4, 4.86).