Crucial mistakes doom A’s in Angels finale

O.CO COLISEUM — If Oprah was still hosting her talk show, the Oakland A’s could be her guest and she’d dish out errors to everybody.

Miscues were the key contributors to Oakland’s 5-4 loss to the rival Angels Wednesday afternoon — three in total and two particular mistakes coming at critical moments. The A’s being shut out by starter Hector Santiago (W, 6-9, 3.81 ERA) didn’t help either.

This story will be updated with post-game quotes and additional material from the A’s clubhouse.

Josh Reddick got under a routine fly ball hit by Grant Green, who was pinch hitting after Mike Trout left the game with a stomach illness.

The ball landed on the outer part of Reddick’s glove, and Green reached first base for free. The Angels already had a baserunner though, and Luis Jimenez doubled to start the inning and got to third on the error.

The very next batter, infielder Albert Pujols, nearly duplicated Green’s at bat, popping the ball to right. Reddick made the catch, but the damage had been done. Jimenez tagged and scored the Angels fourth run of the ballgame.

Had Reddick caught the first pop-fly, Pujols’ out would have been the third of the inning. Instead, it was the pivotal and deciding run of the game.

Photos by Godofredo Vasquez/SFBay

After the game, Reddick took full ownership. The ball moving combined with a long run, the reasons given for the error.

It didn’t help that Lester (L, 16-11, 2.46 ERA) hadn’t gotten off to a good start. In particular, second baseman Howie Kendrick gave Lester the blues, hitting for two RBIs in his first two plate appearances.

Kendrick was responsible in some way for two of Lester’s three earned runs.

An errant throw from Josh Donaldson helped kick in the Angels’ fifth and final run. Lester wasn’t all that bad, but certainly not his usual self.

Lester’s eight allowed hits are the second most he’s been responsible for since joining Oakland at the trade deadline. He allowed nine in hist first A’s start in a home game against Kansas City.

Manager Bob Melvin wasn’t discouraged, and thought Lester performed well. But he did offer insight into his club’s future:

“We have to make it first. Once you make it to the playoffs, everything changes. The whole mood, the whole negative activity, the way we’ve been playing, the trying to find who we are again. All of that will go away if we make it to the playoffs.”

The bad defense and Lester’s bad start against the Royals is disconcerting since Lester would be in line to start a one-game playoff against Kansas City, should both teams get into the Wild Card.

If the two teams do face off as currently expected, everyone will need to be on their game, and mistakes like those on Wednesday can be ill-afforded.

One positive for the A’s, at least compared to a Tuesday evening shutout, is that they got some numbers on the board during a four-run seventh inning rally.

Josh Reddick helped to correct his fatal mistake on a two run double to deep left field, scoring catcher Derek Norris and shortstop Jed Lowrie. Second baseman Nick Punto tripled on the next at bat, scoring Reddick and making the score 5-3, still favoring the Angels.

The Angels decided a pitching change was in order, and brought in reliever Joe Thatcher. But he failed to stop the bleeding completely.

Leadoff hitter Coco Crisp got himself into a 2-1 hitter’s count before belting a pitch to left and scoring Punto.

Reddick said:

“It makes the errors look that much worse. My ball gets caught, saves a run. (Donaldson) gets him at first, saves a run. so when you look at it that way, we win four to three. And we just can’t get to where we need to be to right the ship. And we have to figure it out, and figure it out fast.”

That would be the only A’s offense of the afternoon, though, and while the inning progressively looked more dangerous, the A’s were retired after pinch hitter Adam Dunn went down on strikes.

Oakland is now in a position where they have to hope for certain outcomes that they have no direct control of. Reddick said:

“We know who we are, we’ve all been here long enough. We know whats going on, we just have to figure it out. We got to get on the right path. We seem to be taking the wrong turns no matter what road we take.”

He added:

“We have got to start doing something or we’re going to be somewhere where we don’t want to be. And it’s going to be depressing. … We don’t want much look at the standings, we can control our own destiny. We don’t want to rely on Seattle or Kansas City to take losses for us to be up there in the top spot. We want to deserve our spot. We want to earn it.”

There was a close call at the plate in which Donaldson was sent in an attempt to score and ruled to be tagged out. Crew chief Gerry Davis reviewed the play under his own capacity and the call stood.

Donaldson said that he didn’t believe there was sufficient evidence for the play to be overturned, but that he was certain he wasn’t tagged. Multiple television replays never showed a proper tag on Donaldson, and the call could become a very controversial one.

If the play was reversed, the A’s may have been victorious, and the score could have become tied in Oakland’s 7th inning rally.

The A’s now travel to Texas to finish their season on a four-game road trip against the Rangers. At the time Wednesday’s A’s game ended, Oakland’s magic number remained at three wins to clinch a playoff berth.

Notes

Oakland lost their 26th one-run game of the season, which is the most by an A’s team over the last 27 years and hadn’t lost more than 25 one-run games since 1987, when they lost 27 such games … The A’s went 3-6 on this nine game homestand. … The A’s finished the regular season with a total home attendance of 2,003,628, the first time the Athletics have drawn over 2,000,000 in attendance since the 2005 season (2,109,118). … Jon Lester finished his final scheduled start with 219.2 innings pitched on the season, which is a new career high, his previous came last season with 213.1 innings pitched. … Crisp drew his 62nd walk of the season in the sixth inning, which is a new career high, previously 61, 2013. … Donaldson  is batting .205 (18 for 88) in September after hitting .313 in August. … Reddick went 9 for 16 (.563) on the homestand after going 2 for 21 (.095) on the last road trip and is now batting .314 in Oakland compared to .202 on the road.


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