Remember that slow start the A’s were worried about?
After a 5-1 loss to the Rockies Wednesday, the A’s closed out a six-game opening homestand with a 3-3 record. Through it all, they got middling starting pitching, great relief pitching and offense that needs more than a little work.
This is a team that played .500 ball the first 60 games of the last two seasons, and now that the season is compressed into just 60 games, they are playing at that same pace. Yes, the playoffs are expanded, but this is a season in which the A’s thought they’d be ready to come out of the gate making noise.
Oakland batters hit just .207 for the six games, and while they hit five homers, including a solo shot Wednesday by Matt Chapman that stood as the A’s only run, what Oakland did most was to fail to convert with runners in scoring position. There were 14 RISP stranded combined between the two Rockies games, and for the six games as a whole, Oakland hitters own a .181 average with men at second or third (or both).
So, when the A’s came out of Wednesday unhappy that home plate umpire Jim Reynolds and the replay crew in New York missed what Oakland believed was a tying run being scored by the A’s in the fourth inning, it’s best to remember that was just one play.
The A’s saw the video that showed Matt Olson’s foot seeming to touch the plate before catcher Tony Wolters got his tag on, a safe call that they A’s challenged but from which they got no solace.
Asked what he was told on the replay at the plate, manager Bob Melvin said, “that he was out.” He said it without much conviction. “We didn’t get a real good replay on the scoreboard. “Over the years we feel that we’ve had a tough time on replays. It can be frustrating.”
The trouble is that was just one play in an afternoon in which the A’s, specifically the hitters, consistently didn’t make plays. Singling out that one non-call, as bad as it was, skips past all the ways the A’s are struggling these days.
They got just five hits, including the Chapman homer that stood for the A’s sole run. Two of Oakland’s five hits came from left fielder Robbie Grossman, but even Grossman, who came out of the homestand with a .400 batting average, had his problems, striking out with the bases loaded in the eighth, one of the few legitimate chances the A’s had to cash in.
Melvin saw the problems coming into the game. Khris Davis (0-15) and Chad Pinder (1-9) were given the day off. But only in the fourth inning, when Olson walked and Grossman doubled, and in the eighth, when a Marcus Semien single, a walk and a hit batter loaded the bases, did Oakland get more than one man on base in an inning.
That makes Thursday’s day off relatively well timed. Oakland heads to Seattle for a four-game set, Friday through Monday, and those are the first in 14 days in succession, followed by a day off, followed by 17 straight games. It’s a short season, and the A’s need to rebound from a lackluster homestand.
Melvin said before the game that he might look for a good matchup to get Davis back in action, but with everybody else struggling to one extent or another, his options are limited.
What the Seattle series might see is the first big league start for Jesus Luzardo. The rookie took over in the sixth inning for starter Frankie Montas, who gave up two runs in becoming the first A’s starter to go five innings. Luzardo went 3.2, threw 67 pitches and allowed three runs, one earned.
Melvin didn’t commit to anything, but Luzardo says he’s stretched out and ready to go, and the rookie lefty is likely to get the Monday night start in Seattle
“I think I’m ready in terms of strength of arm and how I feel,” Luzardo said.
Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3
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