Lukewarm A’s drop homestand finale

It was hot in Oakland Thursday afternoon, but the A’s bats couldn’t seem to warm up.

Facing Garrett Richards, the A’s only recorded three hits in the first six innings, while Jesse Chavez allowed 10 baserunners and four runs in five innings. Oakland lost 6-4 in the final game of their six-game homestand, winning only one tilt.

The A’s are now 8-12 in their division, 2-8 over their last 10 games, and 9-14 in April.

Oakland trailed by only one run after the third inning, but that quickly changed in the fifth.

With runners at first and second, Angels manager Mike Scioscia called for a sacrifice bunt to advance runners. An open base at first, the A’s decided to issue a free pass to Mike Trout, and loading the bases for outfielder Kole Calhoun.

It didn’t go well for the A’s, as Calhoun singled to right field, bringing in two runs. In the next at-bat, third baseman David Freese grounded into a fielder’s choice for the second out, but Trout was able to score on the play.

The A’s finally got out of the inning, but the damage was done. And their bats were just lifeless enough to the end. Mark Canha drove in the A’s only two runs on a line drive home run to left field, which scored Josh Reddick.

Photos by Jeffery Bennett/SFBay

The A’s rallied in the ninth, Billy Butler getting aboard and later reaching third base on a lazy ground ball single from Reddick. Butler scored, along with Brett Lawrie and Reddick.

But with two outs, the bases juiced and Street working into the 20s on his pitch count, Ike Davis flew out to center.

The day was what the team has been getting used to — offensively lacking in offense when it matters.

Manger Bob Melvin said:

“It was an awful homestand. We felt like we could get some momentum, come back here and win some games. Then get swept, lose two out of three (against Los Angeles). We have to play better than that. We have to do it soon.”

Though the A’s have scored 41 runs in their last 10 games, the majority of runs have come in three of them.

It’s not just the bats that haven’t been good enough, though, with Oakland pitching allowing 35 runs in the six-game homestand and both series against division teams.

Melvin said:

“You’d like to think (things even out over the course of a season). I doesn’t feel that way right now. But you like to think so.”

The A’s finish the month, now, with their worst April record of the millennium over the last 15 seasons. The team many have become accustomed to seeing in October is looking more like the A’s teams of the mid-to-late 1990s.

Which nobody saw, or wanted to see. They’re clearly better than those teams, dreadful enough to champion Ruben Sierra as their best player for some of the decade, but certainly not playing to their potential.

Manager Bob Melvin talked about the great chemistry he witnessed in Spring Training, during the first week of the season, but whatever he saw then has since dissolved.

Clubhouse conversations appear to be awkward and quiet, and that’s when players are talking to each other. Players look defeated. They seem to feel helpless, doing what they can, but with little result.

The A’s second-worst April record came in 2001, with Art Howe as manager, and the same season made memorable by the movie “Moneyball.”

Oakland finished that season with a 102-60 record, their third-best since moving from Kansas City to their current home. No, alarms have no reason to sound. But that could change if things continue the way they have.

Oakland’s offensive wins over replacement is a staggeringly low 3.3 for the entire team combined. Their defensive wins above replacement is below zero.

Starting pitchers Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir, the clear two best on the team, have a wins over replacement value of 1.5 each.

The good news for the A’s, teams that win it all rarely knock the socks off the league throughout an entire season.

The overall formula could be as simple as saving two runs per game on defense, even, one less run over the first six innings, and one less run in the final three innings. Because there aren’t many reasons to believe the offense won’t turn from a minor spark near a gas stove, to a four-alarm fire.


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