OAKLAND — If the A’s plan to elbow their way back into the company of the American League’s contenders, learning to win at home has to be the important first step.
Clearly they’re still searching for the right formula in front of the home crowd, albeit a very small one Wednesday. The A’s fell 5-1 to the Los Angeles Angels before a gathering of just 11,216 at the Coliseum, the smallest turnout for an A’s home game since they drew 10,120 back on May 12, 2014 against the Chicago White Sox.
The loss completed a sweep for the Angels and left the A’s 1-6 at the Coliseum, their worst start at home since the 2001 club began 1-9. This continues an undesirable trend from last season, when the A’s went 34-47 at home as part of a 68-94 finish.
Making it even more frustrating — for players and fans — is that Oakland returned home following a three-game road sweep at Seattle and seemingly primed to keep things rolling against an Angels team that many picked to finish in the bottom half of the American League West.
“I think we’re better than this, and I’m not gonna shy away from saying it,” said first-year Athletic Chris Coghlan. “I think that we can be better than this (Angels) team. They out-executed us and a lot of that has to do with experience. Hopefully we can learn from that, and when there are bigger situations, we can execute better next time we play them.”
[INSTANT REPLAY: Offense never wakes up, A's swept by Angels]
Points to Coghlan for speaking frankly. After the A’s were held to three hits Wednesday afternoon by Matt Shoemaker and four relievers, he wanted no part of simply saying it wasn’t his team’s day.
“You can’t tip your hat too much,” Coghlan added. “I’ve had enough (times) where a pitcher shoves it up where you’re just like, ‘Man, he had electric stuff. It was his day.’ I don’t think that’s the case. I don't think that was the case for any of the three” games of this series.
However, to counter part of Coghlan’s stance, the A’s aren’t lacking in experience. They’ve got a veteran-laden lineup, and no fewer than seven players who can be counted as ‘regulars’ based on the amount of playing time they’ve received so far are hitting under .220.
Marcus Semien has homered four times, including a solo shot Wednesday. But the rest of his teammates combined have hit five. A quartet that must provide power production for the A’s — Billy Butler, Khris Davis, Danny Valencia and Stephen Vogt — have yet to go deep.
As a team, the A’s rank last in the majors in on-base percentage at .262.
“It’s mostly got to do with us swinging the bats right now, and yeah, it’s disappointing,” manager Bob Melvin said. “Especially after playing as well as we did in Seattle, winning three games and coming back with some momentum. And to get swept in this series like this against a team that was really struggling with the bat coming into this series is disappointing.”
The good news, as Coghlan pointed out, is that the A’s (4-6) are only 10 games into their season. And that 2001 team that dropped nine of its first 10 at the Coliseum recovered to win 102 games and claim a Wild Card berth.
That’s not to suggest this A’s team is a 100-win club. But it is extremely early, with lots of time to get things going in the right direction. It seems Oakland’s first day off Thursday — after 10 consecutive games to start the season — comes at a perfect time before the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals visit for a weekend series.
“It’s such a long year,” Coghlan said. “As long as we stay positive and believe in ourselves and our ability, we’ll be on the right side. The only time things get ugly is when you start to lose confidence, so we just can’t do that as a group.”