OAKLAND –- The Angels made things rough on Cody Martin in his first major league start.
They jumped on the rookie right-hander for four runs in the third and ensured his work night would be brief in a 6-2 A’s loss Tuesday night at the Coliseum.
Martin (0-1) didn’t help his cause with a walk, a hit-by-pitch with the bases loaded and a fielding miscue that contributed to that Angels' rally. That dug an early hole for the A’s that they couldn’t climb out of, as Los Angeles evened this three-game series at a game apiece.
Martin, a Northern California native, pitched in front of a decent-sized cheering section filled with family and friends. He was starting in place of Chris Bassitt, who has a sore shoulder that isn’t believed to be serious. Acquired in July from the Atlanta Braves, Martin relished his fresh start with a new organization and a chance to start. He’s one of several pitchers who were called up as rosters expanded Tuesday, and he’s looking to make an impression for an A’s team that is turning its attention to 2016.
The A’s took a lead on Brett Lawrie’s first-inning homer, but were held silent until scoring a run off Angels closer Huston Street that merely altered the final score.
Starting pitching report
Martin got through the first two innings with just one Angel reaching base, but he hit turbulence in the third. Carlos Perez and Taylor Featherston began the inning with singles to put runners on the corners. Then Martin should have had an out on Kole Calhoun’s RBI infield single, but he couldn’t locate the first base bag while taking a flip from Mark Canha. A walk to Mike Trout loaded the bases, then Martin drilled Albert Pujols in the ribs with a pitch to force in a run.
The Angels didn’t crush the ball off the right-hander -- they just worked efficient at-bats. David Murphy’s grounder to first brought home another run, and C.J. Cron’s sacrifice fly made it 4-1. After back-to-back singles from David Freese and Perez to start the fourth, manager Bob Melvin came to get Martin. His first major league start lasted just three-plus innings, and he was charged with five runs on six hits with one walk.
Martin’s brief outing gave opportunity to several of the A’s newly promoted relievers. Arnold Leon, Dan Otero, Ryan Dull and R.J. Alvarez all got work in to close out the night. Dull, making his major league debut, became the 27th pitcher the A’s have used this season, establishing a new Oakland record and tying the franchise mark. He delivered a scoreless eighth with one strikeout.
At the plate
The A’s at least got things started on a promising note when Lawrie crushed a deep homer to left-center in the first off Matt Shoemaker (7-9). His 14th home run snapped an 0-for-8 streak, but Lawrie has now gone deep in three of the past six games. From there, the going was rough against Shoemaker, who went seven innings and surrendered just the one run on five hits.
In the field
A’s shortstop Marcus Semien delivered perhaps his finest defensive play of the season, with a diving stop and glove flip to Eric Sogard to begin a 6-4-3 double play in the fourth. It was an active night for Semien, who is showing more confidence in the field of late.
A crowd of 14,178 showed up, but given how this one played out, the most entertaining part of the night for A’s fans may have been the Cal marching band playing down the left-field line between innings.
The sunshine usually brings out the best in Sonny Gray (12-6, 2.13), and that cheesy play on his name wasn’t done intentionally, believe it or not. His 0.97 ERA in day games is the best in the majors. Gray will oppose Andrew Heaney (5-2, 3.11) in Wednesday’s 12:35 p.m. series finale.