At End of Long Stretch, Athletics Can't Solve Rockies One More Time

John Hickey

The Oakland Athletics have the best record in the American League West, but that doesn’t cut much with the Colorado Rockies.

The Rockies have faced the A’s three times, have won all three and for a 30-win team, Oakland hasn’t shown Colorado much. Tuesday’s 3-1 win came with the A’s going 0-for-9 with men in scoring position.

That’s nothing new for the Rockies, who have seen the A’s go hitless in 23 at-bats with runners in scoring position in their three games.

The A’s are at the end of a long stretch. Wednesday’s series finale in Denver will be the A’s 19th game in 16 days, including two games played Monday in Seattle in brutally smoky air. Maybe that had an impact on the A’s poor offensive performance.

Tony Kemp, who drove in the A’s only run with a second-inning go-ahead sacrifice fly and who later would be stranded after a leadoff double in the Tony Kemp said he was one of several feeling the effects of Monday's smoke in Seattle. "We had some guys that can feel some phlegm in their throats, me included. There were some guys feeling stuff in their bodies today."

They weren’t feeling much in their bats. The Rockies’ Antonio Senzatela made sure of that.

Making his second start against the A’s, Senzatela put the first two batters of the game, Tommy La Stella and Marcus Semien, on base, then pitched out of trouble with a couple of grounders and a pop fly through the 3-4-5 spots in the batting order.

Kemp’s sacrifice fly got a run home in the second, but after Jake Lamb doubled in the fourth, Senzatela put the A’s away with a strikeout and a grounder in front of the plate. Kemp doubled to open the fifth, got as far as third base and was stranded. Ramón Laureano opened the seventh with a single, got wiped out by a double play and the A’s wouldn’t threaten again.

Senzatela, who hadn’t won a game in five weeks, went on to throw the first complete game of his career in 69 tries. In so doing, he kept the A’s from getting any closer to their stated goal of an AL West title. Houston beat the Rangers and Oakland’s magic number for clinching the West sits at six.

Oakland would take what it got from its starter, Sean Manaea, most of the time. He allowed three base runners in the first four innings, but a two-run homer from Elias Diaz, his first of the year, put him in a 2-1 hole, and the A’s would never recover.

The A’s have an off day on the schedule Thursday, and it seems it can’t get here quickly enough. Manager Bob Melvin admitted as much.

“Yesterday didn’t help,” Melvin said. “We need an off day, it’s coming up. We’ve got one more game tomorrow that we need to come out and do our best to win, and then we’ll finally enjoy an off day after what was a pretty, pretty grueling stretch.”

Manaea said that as long as it’s been, the club still has to realize that things are pretty good for the green-and-gold, even with the club having learned injuries will keep third baseman Matt Chapman for the season, utility man Chad Pinder for the duration of the regular season and Stephen Piscotty for a few days at least.

“I think we’re in a really good spot,” the left-hander said. “That’s the way things go. When it goes down, another guy’s got to fill that role, and so I think we’re in a really good spot and have to keep going.”

The A’s wound up playing four games in three cities in three time zones in about 60 hours with Tuesday’s loss, which came after a series-ender in Arlington, Texas Sunday and Monday’s makeup doubleheader in Seattle.

“It’s really tough when you travel that much, and go in and out of different time zones,” Manaea said. “That’s no matter how prepared you are. But at the same time, the boys are, we’re kind of used to it just being in Oakland and having to travel pretty hard in a regular season.

“It’s a grind, but we’re up to it.”

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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