With the loss, the A’s will be hoping the Rockies can hand the Red Sox their second loss in a row so they can remain one and a half games behind Boston for the best record in baseball and maintain a chance at overtaking the AL East leaders for home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
For all of the success the A’s have celebrated over the last few days, their final two games in Anaheim were a bit lackluster. Their only score over the last 18 innings came on a sacrifice fly by Jed Lowrie in the sixth inning Wednesday, and the lack of offense led to the first string of back-to-back losses for Oakland since August 21-23.
The first three and half innings were defense-oriented, with quality pitching from Jered Weaver and Dan Straily and solid defense by both sides to prevent either team from gaining an advantage on the scoreboard.
Third baseman Andrew Romine made a nice barehanded play on a bunt from Coco Crisp in the third to get an important first out after Stephen Vogt singled to lead off the inning. The next two A’s batters were then retired to strand Vogt at second.
As the Angels were putting together a rally in the bottom of the third, Josh Reddick threw out J.B. Shuck at second to end the inning. Shuck was trying to stretch a single into a double with as teammate Collin Cowgill advanced to third. It was the fifth assist of the season for Reddick.
The Angels scored first in the fourth on a fielder’s choice by Daric Barton with one out. Erick Aybar led off with a single, and he stole second and advanced to third on a groundout by Kole Calhoun. Josh Hamilton hit a grounder to Barton in the next at-bat, and the first baseman tried to get Aybar at home, but his throw was off target and the Angels took a 1-0 lead before Straily got Mark Trumbo and Grant Green to groundout to end the inning.
The fifth was another futile offensive showing for Oakland, extending their scoreless streak to 14 innings after Tuesday’s shutout. Straily then walked off leadoff hitter Chris Iannetta in the bottom half of the inning, and an error by Barton resulted in another two runs for the Halos.
When Romine laid down a bunt along the third baseline to advance Iannetta, Alberto Callaspo fielded the ball cleanly, but Barton couldn’t handle the throw at first, and the Angels had two men on with no outs as a result. Cowgill then bunted both runners over as the A’s got the first out, and Lowrie prevented a run when he went home on a grounder by J.B. Shuck to get Iannetta before he crossed the plate.
Unfortunately Aybar singled up the middle in the next at-bat to bring home Romine from third, and Straily followed it up by issuing a walk to Calhoun. Hamilton then singled to make it 3-0 before the A’s infield was able to tag Calhoun for the final out.
Oakland looked poised for a big inning in the sixth when Crisp and Eric Sogard had consecutive singles to start things off. Crisp scored form third on the sacrifice fly by Lowrie to make it 3-1, but Brandon Moss lined out to left for a big second out. Yoenis Cespedes singled to move Sogard to third after he had stolen second, but Reddick popped out to left to bring an end to what was probably the A’s best chance to put multiple runs on the board.
Straily exited the game after getting the first two outs in the bottom of the seventh, and he certainly did his part, striking out five with only one of the runs scored during his outing being earned. It wasn’t the strongest outing of the year for the right-hander, but he did well to limit the Angels to three runs on seven hits. Brett Anderson came in and had perhaps his best outing out of the bullpen, although it was a rather short one as he struck out Aybar for the final out of the seventh before retiring Calhoun to start the eighth. He was pulled after giving up a single to Hamilton, and Ryan Cook finished out the inning for the final action of the game by an Oakland pitcher.
Dane De La Rosa came in to start the eighth for the Angels, and Weaver left having limited the A’s to five hits with two strikeouts and one walk. The A’s couldn’t get anything going against the right-hander, and the ninth was just as uneventful as Moss and Cespedes were retired, and a last gasp single by Reddick was rendered meaningless as Callaspo struck out to end the game.
The A’s will now travel to Seattle to take on the Mariners over the weekend in the final regular season series of 2013.