BALTIMORE – The A’s talked a much better game in the clubhouse Sunday afternoon than they played on the field, which wasn’t the toughest thing to do following an 18-2 loss.
Those who addressed the media took accountability for the disaster that unfolded in a 16-run demolishing by the Orioles, a performance which featured breakdowns in all facets and represented Oakland’s most lopsided loss in what’s been a dreadful season overall.
“It just sucks,” reliever Dan Otero said. “We keep saying it as a team, ‘It’s one of those days.’ At some point, you just gotta stop it. Change it.”
Can the A’s take that mentality and put it into practice? In which direction do they go at this point?
It’s not just that the A’s lost their sixth game in a row. Or fell to a season-low 17 games under .500 at 51-68. Or even that they gave up the most hits (26) in their Oakland history.
Aside from what took place on the scoreboard, Sunday’s rout just had a bad look to it at times. Particularly in the field, where multiple catchable fly balls wound up finding grass between A’s defenders who didn’t seem to be in communication at all.
A’s manager Bob Melvin, whose displeasure comes across in his postgame media sessions when he’s truly ticked about a loss, was not steaming after this one. He defended his team’s defense to a degree, saying it was a tough afternoon for outfielders to get reads on balls. He said there will be days when the pitching staff gets treated like a piñata, and that there have been very few lopsided stinkers like Sunday’s.
But, Melvin was troubled enough by what he saw to hold a closed-door meeting before reporters were let in the clubhouse. He didn’t share what was discussed, saying only that losses such as these “end up exposing some things that need to be talked about.”
The A’s must win Monday to avoid an 0-7 road trip, and that’s a bit shocking considering they were playing good baseball when they first hit the road, having taken three of four from the first-place Houston Astros.
Granted, they caught the Blue Jays when they were the hottest team in baseball and got swept in Toronto. But the Orioles had lost six of their previous 10 before this series began, and the A’s held four- and three-run leads respectively on Friday and Saturday before losing each game. On Sunday, the issues rose to a new level as the A’s gave up their most runs since a 22-9 loss to the Yankees on Aug. 25, 2011.
Rookie starter Kendall Graveman, who allowed six runs in just 3 1/3 innings, is now 0-5 with a 6.89 ERA over his past seven outings. The A’s have lost all seven.
Graveman pointed to the second inning Sunday, when he allowed four runs (all with two outs) after the A’s had tied it 1-1 in the top half.
“You’ve gotta put an end to it somewhere,” he said. “You get two outs, men on second and third, I gotta find a way to get out of there. I think that was a big momentum changer.”
Otero, tasked with keeping the game within reasonable distance when he relieved Graveman in the fourth with the score 6-1, wound up getting charged with eight runs on eight hits allowed in 1 1/3 innings.
“You get put in that situation, you have to eat up some innings,” Otero said. “You put the rest of your bullpen in tough spots. It just kind of put us behind the 8-ball a little bit. I just couldn’t pick up the team when I needed to.”
Even another cameo pitching performance from first baseman Ike Davis, who turned in a scoreless eighth inning, did little to lighten the mood.
Back in April, Davis took the mound in Anaheim at the end of a 14-1 defeat. That relief appearance provided some levity, took the edge off a tough night. And Davis relished talking about it.
Not the case Sunday. The A’s are 0-for-the-road through six games, 7-16 over their past 23 contests, and they followed up back-to-back walk-off defeats by getting embarrassed Sunday.
“I didn’t want to be out there (on the mound),” Davis said. “It was a bad day for us.”