After a promising start in their first meeting of the season against the Texas Rangers, the Oakland Athletics dropped the final two games of the series, culminating in a 6-2 loss Wednesday afternoon that highlighted several deficiencies that are a cause for concern for the defending AL West champs.
Lackluster starting pitching once again combined with a frustrating day at the plate, and the A’s couldn’t capitalize on the opportunities they did have as they went 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Dan Straily took the loss, going four and one-third innings with with four walks, two strikeouts and four earned runs on four hits.
Straily was in control through the first two frames, but the Rangers broke through for two runs in the third. David Murphy led off the inning with a single but was thrown out trying to steal second by John Jaso, and after a Robinson Chirinos strikeout it looked like Oakland was out of the woods. However, Leonys Martin kept the inning alive with a line drive to center field. Martin then stole second, and Straily hit Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus in consecutive at-bats to load the bases for Lance Berkman, and the designated hitter ripped a single to center field to make it 2-0.
There weren’t many bright spots for the young right-hander after that; after walking two batters in the fourth, he gave up another run in the fifth on a RBI single from Adrian Beltre. That put two men on for Nelson Cruz, who would face Jesse Chavez after Straily was yanked. Chavez didn’t fare any better as Cruz blasted the first pitch he threw over the wall in left center to make it 6-0.
Meanwhile, the A’s couldn’t get anything going against Alexi Ogando, and only two men reached base in the first five innings – Josh Donaldson on a walk in the second and Jaso after he was hit by a pitch in the fourth. Their first hit came in the sixth when Eric Sogard doubled to lead off the inning. He advanced to third on a groundout by Coco Crisp and came home when Derek Norris, who came in for Jaso in the top of the fifth, hit a sacrifice fly to center field to put the A’s on the board. The A’s nearly put a couple more on the board after Jed Lowrie and Yoenis Cespedes singled with two outs and Brandon Moss hit a ball to right center that looked like an extra base hit, but Cruz made a great diving catch to end the inning.
Oakland would bring home another run in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Crisp with the bases loaded, but Adam Rosales and Seth Smith were left stranded on base when Norris popped out to end the inning. That would be the last chance the A’s would have with runners in scoring position.
Oakland has lost eight of their last 10 and are now seven games behind the Rangers for the top spot in the division. They’re off Thursday and will return to action against the Kansas City Royals Friday night with Jarrod Parker being the likely starter.