A’s end skid with victory over Angels

The A’s squeezed their feet into glass slippers Tuesday night and broke the spell of a four-game losing streak in a 6-2 victory over the Angels.

The A’s will close April with a losing record for the first time since 2012 and finish the month more than two games under .500 — which has only happened once in the last 14 years — but the win increases morale of players and fans alike at a crucial point in time.

Despite recent bullpen issues and multiple defensive errors, the season is young and there is a silver lining in the cloud.

It was sloppy start for right-handed pitcher Sonny Gray who walked the Angels right-fielder Kyle Calhoun right out of the gate. Calhoun was able to advance to third off a single to shallow left-field from Albert Pujols.

Third baseman David Freese hit a blooper into center field, scoring both Calhoun and Pujols. Freese attempted to take second on throw, only to be thrown out at second base by Stephen Vogt.

Manager Bob Melvin wasn’t fazed by Gray’s first inning troubles:

“That’s usually when a good starter is vulnerable is early in the game before he gets into a rhythm. Not much he does surprises me. He came back from an off first inning…I almost expect that of him.”

Oakland managed to escape the inning with minimal damage to the scoreboard and a hunger to put runs up.

Marcus Semien lent a helping hand to his pitcher with an infield single that returned to his own spot at shortstop on the field. From first, Semien reached third off a solid hit to right center from Vogt.

Designated hitter Billy Butler was hit by an 81-mph fastball thrown from the 6-foot-7-inch right-handed pitcher Jered Weaver — a seemingly habitual occurrence for A’s players now.

Josh Reddick snuck a base hit into right, bringing around Semien and Vogt to tie it all up. The stage was all but set for third-baseman Brett Lawrie who blasted a homer over the left-field wall. Butler and Reddick both touched home before turning and celebrating with their teammate.

The A’s scored five runs in the first inning, which is more than they have scored in their last eleven of 20 full games. They would maintain their three run lead throughout the night.

After having shaky first outings the game slowed for both Gray and Weaver who found a groove, each of them retiring ten straight batters before the bottom of the fifth.

Gray continued his streak into the seventh inning, shutting down 13 batters before shortstop Erick Aybar poked one past second-baseman Eric Sogard. He would leave the game after eight with six strikeouts and a perfect 3-0 record with a 1.19 ERA.

The A’s made a little noise in that same inning with a single by Semien, but couldn’t muster any other offensive moves until the bottom of the sixth when Reddick smoked an 82-mph fastball deep into the right-field bleachers. Reddick would go 2-of-4 with a home run and three RBI’s on the board.

Evan Scribner replaced Gray to start the ninth inning and kept the momentum afloat, striking out three batters to seal the win.

After high praise from Melvin, Gray also praised Scribner and his quick close to the game:

“He’s nasty. He’s got that fire this year. He’s nasty.”

With tonight’s win, the A’s have outscored their opponents 68-8 in nine victories.