A’s dead bats and strained arms downed by Angels

For the second time in as many starts this season, Eric Surkamp threw the ball very well but far too often.

The fill-in lefty tossed 96 pitches, allowing nine baserunners — five hits and four walks — and two runs over 4 2/3 innings in taking the loss Wednesday afternoon.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (5-4) starter Matt Shoemaker, on the other hand, stifled the Oakland Athletics (4-6) bats early and often — allowing just one hit and three walks over six innings — to notch a 5-1 victory.

Oakland got their lone run from an eighth-inning Marcus Semien homer, who has hit three long balls in the last 24 hours.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the A’s clubhouse at the Oakland Coliseum.

Following the game, utility man Chris Coghlan summed up his team’s lack of success:

“There’s no ifs, ands or buts. We’re struggling. It’s tough when you see a lineup like we have, and the potential that we have, struggle up and down.”

In the midst of those struggles, the Oakland starter found his way in and out of his own early trouble.

Surkamp (0-1, 4.00 ERA) coaxed a Kole Calhoun pop out to end a bases-loaded threat in the first, then a Craig Gentry ground out to strand two more in the second. But he played with fire one time too many, and was burnt in the third.

After a line-drive single, Mike Trout stole second, before a Calhoun two-out single sent him scampering home.

A similar approach put the Angels second run on the board in the fifth, when Trout doubled and was brought in by another two-out run-scoring single from Calhoun. It was the second and third runs scored for Trout as well as RBIs two and three for Calhoun.

The left-hander attributed his inability to execute later in the game to his failure to work quickly in the early goings:

“Early in the game I really felt like I wasn’t missing by much, just a little bit off. I felt pretty good about my stuff, my arm felt great early on. But throwing 60 pitches in the first two innings takes it out of you a little bit.”

A’s reliever Ryan Dull made sure that Surkamp’s line would get no worse, as he got Andrelton Simmons to pop out, ending the frame. Dull has now stranded all six runners he has inherited.

The Angels added two more in the ninth, off of reliever Liam Hendriks (0-0, 10.50 ERA), to put the game out of reach.

Shoemaker (1-1, 6.00 ERA) allowed his only hit, a Danny Valencia line-drive single into right-center, in the second inning before settling in. The Oakland third baseman added another hit in the final frame, off of reliever Joe Smith, pushing his season average to a team-high .313.

Semien’s fourth homer of the season was a case of too little, too late.

In sending a 1-1 fastball into the left field bleachers, though, the short stop continued his hot stroke and gave the just over 11,000 fans in attendance an opportunity to cheer.

The usual scattered weekday afternoon crowd had previously reached a boiling point, going so far as to boo Billy Butler after a seventh-inning strike out, and the designated hitter did not endear himself to the crowd any further when he grounded into the game’s final out.

Coghlan did not mince his words when he spoke about Oakland’s lack of offense:

“I thought (Shoemaker) did a good job mixing up his pitches. I do want to give them some credit on some execution, but you can’t tip your hat too much. I’ve had enough of, where a pitcher shoves it up where you’re just like ‘man, he had electric stuff, it was his day.’ I don’t think that’s the case, I don’t think it was the case for any of the three. I think we’re better than this, and I’m not going to shy away from saying that. I think that we can be better than this team.”

Following the game, manager Bob Melvin was non-committal about whether or not Surkamp would get another opportunity:

“We’ll always look at things. No decisions right now. I don’t think today was Eric’s best day, I think he pitched better in Seattle even though I had to go get him a little bit earlier. I heard Jesse (Hahn) pitched well again today.”

After tossing six scoreless innings for the A’s Triple-A affiliate Nashville Sounds, Hahn has now thrown 12 shutout frames on the farm.

The skipper can now use his a day off on Thursday to bypass Surkamp’s next start and realign his rotation, or further consider a move to bring Hahn back to Oakland. There’s also the option to bring top prospect Sean Manaea up from AAA Nashville, but the 24-year-old is more likely to come up in June as the super-two deadline passes.

Led by Rich Hill (1-1, 3.12 ERA), coming off an excellent six-inning, one-run outing in Seattle, the A’s will face the reigning champion Kansas City Royals (5-2) on Friday.


Kalama Hines is SFBay’s Oakland Athletics beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @HineSight_2020 on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of A’s baseball.