O.CO COLISEUM — The A’s rotation was supposed to be one of the best after July trades brought Jeff Samardzija to Oakland. But he quickly unraveled on the mound Wednesday.
Samardzija (L, 7 H, 7 ER, 3 K) didn’t last four innings during the A’s 8-4 loss to the visiting Mets. Manager Bob Melvin said:
“For any pitcher, you want to go out there and shut them down, and get the momentum back into the dugout. We weren’t able to do that today…we’re still grinding, trying to get runners on and get opportunities and just couldn’t finish it through.”
The Oakland offense was able to pile on four runs in two innings against New York’s Zack Wheeler (W, 5.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 3 K), but the damage had already been done by the time they got runners on base.
The Mets rallied during the third inning, scoring five runs — four of which came on two separate homers to centerfield. Samardzija was yanked, shoulders slumped and presumably upset, in favor of Jesse Chavez.
“My split was great, it was everything you wanted. It just kinda left me there as the game went on, and I kept going to it and kept falling behind in the count. I was trying to get some put outs, and that’s usually my pitch to go to. And it wasn’t there.”
The A’s are now 74-52, and walked away from the field one game back in the division standings. That could become a bit larger, with the Angels playing Boston later Wednesday.
But the Mets offense continued to pour it on. Another three runs came across while Chavez was up, though only one was charged to the A’s long reliever.
A bright spot in an otherwise dismal showing, leadoff hitter Coco Crisp had his second straight game with an RBI. Crisp scored a run, too, and appears to be steadily returning to the form Oakland needs.
Crisp is still batting only .161 over the last 15 games, though he’d missed seven games starting n late July with a strained neck.
The A’s, now a defensively minded team despite pouring on runs by the bundle from April to June, needed Samardzija. Catcher John Jaso was nearly at a loss for words, but said:
“There was a couple balls that squeaked through. The first homer, the guy definitely earned that one. It was tough, because a couple ball squeaked through, beat the shift I guess. Curtis Granderson broken bat, hit in the infield. … It was tough.”
The A’s are now in the dog days. Baseball’s dreaded stretch where nearly everyone is tired, beat up, and longing for a break. It’s also the same period that defines the winners from the wannabes.
A’s fans hope they’re winners. The continued effort placed through the entire game says they are.
But their record is slipping. And their offensive production is frumpy, at best.
The A’s tallied only six hits, and nobody had a multi-hit game. Oakland left eight runners on base, and had the bases loaded for the better part of the eighth inning.
Now a full game behind the Los Angeles Angels, Oakland needs to show some life. Their newly acquired starters have helped, but have also shown signs of fatigue.
After finishing the first half with a domineering division lead and by far the best run differential in baseball, Oakland has been going through a rough stretch. They’ve won two of their last 10 games, and split two games with a team that is eight games below .500.
They’ll have a chance to rectify that, though, with seven games against rival Angels over the next ten days starting Friday.
Melvin told reporters that it’d be at least a few hours before he could clear his system of Wednesdays loss, and that the only game he’d think much about after is Fridays.
The A’s will have three of the best arms in the game for the weekend series against L.A., in Sonny Gray, Jon Lester and Jason Hammel.
Gray will take the mound Friday, Lester on Saturday and Hammel Sunday.