OAKLAND — Just when the A’s think they have something going in the win column, things take a turn south.
Whenever it seems they’re getting healthier, a couple more players are lost to injury.
That’s been the theme of the A’s season, and the beat goes on after Sunday’s 6-3 loss that completed a sweep by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Oakland had several golden scoring opportunities go by the wayside, finishing 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position and losing their fourth in a row.
Compounding things, the day began with catcher Josh Phegley joining the 15-day disabled list with a right knee strain and possibly having to undergo surgery. Then in the eighth inning, reliever Fernando Rodriguez retired his first batter but then was visited by assistant athletic trainer Brian Schulman and left the game.
He was diagnosed with a strained right shoulder, and manager Bob Melvin said Rodriguez could be headed to the DL, which would make it a staggering 19 DL transactions on the season for Oakland.
The A’s had won seven of nine and were showing signs of a serious offensive revival before this current four-game dip, which leaves them at 35-47 as they begin a seven-game road trip Monday starting in Minnesota that will take them into the All-Star Break.
“We felt like the Angels series and the Giants (series) we were on our way to playing a lot better,” Melvin said. “But we got derailed again this series. We're trying to get it right. We feel like we have a lot of good pieces here. Obviously we've been going through some injuries and continue to go through some injuries which is frustrating.
“You get to a point where we have our guys back, we'll get on a roll, we played two good series, and we have more injuries. It's frustrating but no more for me than anyone else.”
And the A’s misfortune isn’t relegated to the games themselves.
Ace Sonny Gray was wearing a bandage on his nose after a throw struck him while he was playing long toss Sunday morning. The cut on his nose drew blood and Gray went into the clubhouse briefly for treatment before returning to finish his full bullpen session. Gray was making light of the situation shortly after it happened, and there’s no indication as of now that his start Wednesday against the Twins would be affected.
But he was sporting a mild black eye after the game, presumably from the incident.
Gray declined any comment about it.
The A’s had scored six runs or more in seven consecutive games entering the Pirates series, but they totaled just eight in the three losses. On Sunday, they had three different scenarios with a runner at third with less than two outs and failed to push a run across.
In the fifth, they had a run already in to take a 3-2 lead, but Josh Reddick popped to shallow left and Danny Valencia flied out to right against Francisco Liriano with runners on second and third. The Pirates scored twice in the sixth to take the lead for good. In the bottom of that inning, the A’s were the victims of bad luck as pinch hitter Stephen Vogt lined into a double play with men on the corners. Then in the seventh, they had runners on the corners again with no outs, but Marcus Semien and Valencia struck out sandwiched around a Reddick pop out.
“It’s frustrating in back-to-back at-bats when a guy like myself, being in the ‘3’ hole against a guy like Liriano, it’s not an easy at-bat, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that I’ve got to get the job done,” Reddick said. “In at least one of those at-bats, if not both. It’s just missed opportunities.”
After playing three at Minnesota, the A’s play four at Houston leading into the break. Then they’ll have 16 games to begin the second half until the Aug. 1 trade deadline. The way it’s gone to this point, it’s hard to imagine this roster staying intact, with veterans like lefty Rich Hill, Reddick, Valencia and perhaps relievers Ryan Madson and John Axford all sure to garner interest.
“It’s very frustrating,” Valencia said. “We came off a good series against the Giants, obviously a tough one here against the Pirates. We didn’t envision it to go this way, but that’s how baseball goes sometimes. And now we have to go on the road and win the series in Minnesota and hopefully finish strong going into the break against Houston.”