Dan Straily started off strong, but a four-run fifth inning was his undoing, and the Los Angeles Angels’ bats broke out in a big way in an 8-3 win over the Oakland Athletics Thursday night.
Straily lost to the Angels for the second time in less than a week, and it’s the first time he’s dropped back-to-back outings since May, when he lost to the Mariners and Rangers with five days between starts. He was solid through four innings tonight, but after sitting for an extended period of time when the A’s offense broke out in the fourth, the right-hander faltered, and he exited in the fifth without being able to record an out.
Straily finished with five strikeouts and two walks, and he gave up five earned runs on seven hits. Initially it looked like opposing starter C.J. Wilson would be the first to hit the showers, but after a few early struggles the southpaw went seven innings and struck out six with three walks, and he gave up three earned runs on five hits to earn his eighth win in his last nine outings.
Both pitchers breezed through the opening frame, and although the A’s put two men on with no outs in the second, they failed to capitalize on the opportunity, a recurring theme for the club as of late.
That opened the door for the Angels in the top of the third. Erick Aybar led things off with a single, and J.B. Shuck hit a grounder to second in the next at-bat that resulted in the force out at second, but Shuck beat out the throw to first to avoid the double play. Shuck then stole second on a wild pitch by Straily, and after striking out Mike Trout, Straily left a fastball over the plate for Albert Pujols, who drove it back up the middle to score Shuck and give the Angels a 1-0 lead.
Both pitchers were in control over the next inning, but Oakland employed some aggressive baserunning in the bottom of the fourth to take a 2-1 lead. Yoenis Cespedes drew a leadoff walk, and he stole second with Nate Freiman at the plate. Freiman advanced him on a grounder that was fielded by Wilson, who got the out at first, but the left-hander shorted a pitch with Chris Young batting, and Hank Conger couldn’t control it, allowing Cespedes to score the first run of the game for the A’s.
Young proceeded to hit an opposite field double, and Derek Norris followed suit by hitting a fastball through the left side of the infield in the next at-bat. Third base coach Mike Gallego didn’t hesitate to send Young home on the play, and the center fielder just beat the tag from Conger as Shuck’s throw from left was about a foot off the plate, and Oakland had a 2-1 lead.
They wouldn’t hold it for long, and Straily endured his worst inning in recent memory when he gave up four runs in the fifth. Aybar drew a walk to start the inning off, and Shuck moved him to third on a single to center field. Josh Reddick was able to make a extended running catch off a line drive by Trout in the next at-bat, but it was deep enough to score Aybar and tie the game.
Next, Pujols added a single of his own, a bouncing grounder that went under the glove of Donaldson. That put two men on for Josh Hamilton, who got behind in the count 0-2 before Straily threw him a changeup off the plate that the former MVP reached for and connected on, sending the ball to shallow right-center to score Shuck from second.
That put the Angels ahead 3-2, and unfortunately for Straily it didn’t end there. His third pitch to Mark Trumbo was a fastball right down the middle, and the first basemen smoked it to the left of Rosales, and the ball rolled all the way to the wall in left-center, scoring both baserunners to give the Halos a 5-2 lead.
Bob Melvin had seen enough at that point, and after getting Jesse Chavez up in the bullpen earlier, he made the switch, ending Straily’s night after 84 pitches. It had to be a tough pill to swallow for the right-hander, who hadn’t given up more than two runs in any of his previous four starts.
Chavez came in and got the final two outs, but the damage had been done, and Chavez ran into his own trouble sin the sixth. The right-hander gave up singles to Conger, Aybar and Shuck to load the bases with no outs, and a wild pitch with Trout at-bat brought home Conger to make it 6-2. After falling behind 3-0, he delivered two strikes to work the count full, and Trout fouled off four pitches before he drove one to right field, scoring Aybar and knocking Chavez out of the game.
Melvin brought in right-hander Dan Otero — who hadn’t pitched since July 10 at Pittsburgh — to try to get out of the inning. Unfortunately, he had to face Pujols with men at the corners right out of the gate, and the slugger hit a grounder past Donaldson at third to score Shuck to make it 8-2.
Hamilton hit into a double play in the next at-bat and Otero got Trumbo to ground out to end the inning, but the wheels had pretty much come off at that point. Despite a solo shot from Norris with two outs in the bottom half of the frame to make it 8-3, the game was effectively out of reach, and Wilson pitched through the seventh before giving way to the bullpen.
Otero put in some solid work (1 hit, 2 K, 0 BB in three innings), but Dane De La Rosa and J.C. Gutierrez only allowed one hit over the final two innings, and the A’s fell to the Angels in the first of four games between the AL West rivals.
Oakland remains three games ahead of Texas in the division after the Yankees topped the Rangers 2-0 earlier Thursday. Tomorrow’s matchup at the Coliseum features Bartolo Colon against Jerome Williams, with game time set for 7:05 PST.