Rocked by four-run ninth, A’s fall to Colorado

The Oakland Athletics offense, which had been nearly unstoppable much of the spring thus far, was quieted by the Colorado Rockies, who tallied four ninth-inning runs to snag a 4-3 Cactus League win on Tuesday.

After seven strong from starter Sean Manaea, and a trio of big league bullpen locks, lefty Daniel Coulombe stumbled through another tough outing, coughing up four runs in 1-1/3 to wear the loss.

Aiding the effort of Manaea, and Simon Castro who finished the fourth, along with relievers Ryan Madson, Sean Doolittle and John Axford, contributing one scoreless inning apiece, was a solid team defensive effort.

In a full nine innings of work, Matt Chapman, who in January was selected to MLB Pipeline’s All-Defense team, showed his promise with the leather at third base.

Manager Bob Melvin said that performances like Tuesday’s from Chapman are no longer a surprise:

“He tends to do that. We knew, with Manaea on the mound especially to start, that he would get some plays — it’s like having another shortstop on the field.”

Chapman’s defensive prowess was put on display early, with a pair of first-inning plays flashing his lauded range, ability to make a balanced throw on the run and game awareness — all the tools of former A’s standout and perennial Gold Glover Eric Chavez.

Charging in front of the starter Manaea, and deploying a one-motion scoop and sling, the third baseman unleashed his cannon arm, formerly clocked as high as 98 mph off the mound, to beat the speedy Raimel Tapia by a full step on a drag bunt attempt. Following a walk, Chapman again showed off the arm, picking a slow roller cleanly and firing a strike to catcher Josh Phegley, cutting down Gerardo Parra at the plate.

According to the skipper, though, it wasn’t the play made in the first, rather an out he wasn’t able to wrangle in the third, off the bat of Jordan Patterson.

Said Melvin:

“The first one, he makes a pretty routine play for him. The second one, I didn’t think there was a play at all — I didn’t think he’d even try to throw it — and it was bang-bang at first.”

In the first three innings, Colorado scraped together four infield hits leading to a Mile-high merry-go-round — a purple parade of Rockies base runners.

Against the Oakland starter alone, the Rockies collected seven hits and one walk in his 3-2/3 innings of work. As has been a strength of his since he first appeared in the big leagues, however, the “Throwin’ Samoan” stiffened up again and again to keep that parade from completing the circle.

Despite allowing eight base runners, the lefty kept Colorado scoreless.

Said Manaea:

“All things considered, it wasn’t my best day for sure. I’m definitely going to have those throughout the season, but you want to just put up zeroes when I don’t have my best stuff — or just better stuff.”

He added:

“You try and take the positives away from days like today, and having those games and how to deal with them. … Nice to know I can throw up zeroes when I don’t have my good stuff.”

After going down in order in the third and fourth, the A’s put together a barrage of their own, getting four hits in the fourth. The difference in their threat being a strike at the jugular.

An aggressive take of third by Matt Olson, following his double, on a medium-deep line drive from Chapman set Phegley up with a sacrifice-fly situation. Instead, the backstop scorched an RBI single. Jed Lowrie, who singled, and Matt Joyce, with a sacrifice fly, each added an RBI of their own.

The attack of that inning alone gave the skipper some positives to take away. The situational hitting was really all Melvin can take from his offense, though, as it collected just five hits on the afternoon.

Next up for the A’s, following an off-day, is a road game against the reigning American League Pennant winners from Cleveland.


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.