The power of the Oakland Athletics’ offseason additions was on display in a losing effort Tuesday night.
After a late comeback, fueled by a pair of hit batsmen, it was Oaklandnative Jimmy Rollins who delivered the crushing blow with a ninth-inning homer off of closer Sean Doolittle, giving the Chicago White Sox (2-0) a 5-4 win.
After going a major league worst 19-35 in one-run games a year ago, 2016’s second game feels all too familiar.
Following the game, Doolittle expressed his personal displeasure:
“I felt really good. I had swing-and-miss stuff tonight. When I had to make a pitch with two outs and two strikes in a tied ballgame in the ninth inning I didn’t do it. It’s really tough to come back in after a one-run loss again. The guys rally to come back. I’m disgusted with myself.”
A’s starter Chris Bassitt (5.1 IP, 4 ER, 8 H, 4 K) was sharp early, needing only 41 pitches to get through three shutout innings.
And despite his ability to wiggle free in the fourth, getting Chicago catcher Alex Avila to fly out with the bases loaded, it gave way to a three-run fifth.
An inning with all the signs of yet another rough night from Bassitt, who last season became the first American League pitcher since 1968 to post a winning percentage of .111 or worse with a sub-3.75 ERA.
With one out and the speedy leadoff man Adam Eaton on first, Bassitt coaxed a slow grounder from Rollins. Instead of taking a sure out at first, Lowrie made the aggressive play to second.
His throw was late, allowing Todd Frazier to bat with two on and two out after a Jose Abreu strikeout. On an 0-2 curveball below the zone, Frazier broke the scoreless tie with a homer to left giving the pale hosers a 3-1 lead.
While manager Bob Melvin though it was a good pitch, Bassitt was unhappy with the effort.
“He’s one of the worst bad ball hitters in the game. I have to make a lot worse pitch there than what I did. I gave him a chance and he made me pay for it… I felt really good, but that doesn’t matter.”
Once again behind against a tough left-hander in Jose Quintana, who finished going 5.1 innings allowing two runs, the A’s rallied with an RBI single from Lowire — his second RBI of the game — in the bottom half. Lowrie is now 3-for-4 with runners in scoring position, collecting his team-high four RBIs in those situations.
After an Austin Jackson single driving in former Athletic Brett Lawrie in the sixth, Bassitt was finished for the night. Two batters later, New A Liam Hendriks came on to face Rollins with the bases loaded. A double-play grounder later, the A’s were heading to the dugout. Hendriks finished going 2 2/3 with two strikeouts.
Of his outing, Melvin said:
“It was good. Even (Marc Rzepczynski) comes in and gets a ground ball, it just finds a hole. And then Hendriks was terrific, gets the ground ball and giving us two-plus on a day where we had to cover six-plus the day before. Everybody has contributed in the bullpen.”
Hendriks’ outing set the offense up with a chance and with two-out, bases-loaded single, Alonso cashed in. Driving in two and tying the game.
A half-inning later, though, the man at the center of nearly everything yanked a 2-2 fastball over the wall in left field, just to the right of the 362-foot marker.
David Robertson would come on for the visitors in the bottom half and make quick work of the top third of the Oakland lineup for his second save in as amny nights.