OAKLAND – Mike Trout did the damage Wednesday that one expects from a reigning MVP – a homer and three RBI to help doom the A’s.
What hurt the A’s most in a 6-3 defeat, however, were the blows delivered by the non-superstars in the Los Angeles Angels’ lineup. Jesse Hahn regretted a first-inning battle with Erick Aybar, when the Angels shortstop knocked a 1-2 pitch into center for a two-out two-run single that put the A’s in an early hole.
A couple lockers down, reliever Ryan Cook was kicking himself for not putting away Johnny Giavotella in the seventh, getting ahead 0-2 only to watch Giavotella battle back and deliver a go-ahead single that sparked a three-run Angels rally.
The A’s are losing too many of the isolated battles within the game right now, particularly a bullpen that picked up its Major League-worst seventh loss of the season Wednesday night.
“I have faith in everybody down there,” said Cook (0-1). “I think they would say the same. We’re definitely in a little rut, and we’ve gotta turn it around.”
Cook was a bright spot in Sunday’s loss, marking his return from the minors with a 1-2-3 inning against Houston. On Wednesday, he experienced the same feeling many of his bullpen mates have. After the A’s scored twice to tie the game in the sixth, Cook entered and walked leadoff man Matt Joyce on four pitches. With runners on the corners and no outs, he rang up Chris Iannetta looking, then jumped ahead of Giavotella, the No. 9 hitter.
An 0-2 count became 2-2, and after fouling off two pitches, Giavotella lined an RBI single into center to give the Angels the lead for good and let the wind out of the A’s sails.
“You got ‘em 0-2, then I overthrew the slider multiple times,” Cook said. “That’s what I’m most frustrated about. I tried to back off on the last one and I still overthrew it.”
Hahn, trying to rediscover his rhythm after missing a start, was one pitch away from stranding runners on second and third in the top of the first. But Aybar, always an A’s killer at the Coliseum, hit a 1-2 changeup into center for a two-run single.
“It was a little risky pitch because he looks to shoot the ball to the left side of the field there,” Hahn said. “I was hoping to bounce that and come back inside. I think it was a good pitch, just not to him.”
And of course, there’s Trout, who had struck out in his final three at-bats in Tuesday’s series opener. He drilled a third-inning homer on a 1-0 fastball that Hahn was trying to go outside with. It caught too much of the plate. Then in the seventh, after Giavotella’s go-ahead single, Trout hammered a two-run double to the left field corner to make it 6-3.
A’s shortstop Marcus Semien, formerly with the White Sox, sees a similarity between Trout and another MVP player who makes his home in the AL Central.
“… Some of the best players, they don’t have the best game, but the next day they come right back,” Semien said.”You talk about guys like (Miguel) Cabrera, I saw him in the AL Central a lot. Same thing. He’d have one bad game. The next day, totally different guy.
“I’m trying to learn from players like that and see how they bounce back from tough games and help their team win the next day.”
Unfortunately for Semien, Wednesday’s lesson came at the cost of a victory for him and his teammates.