Angels bury A’s with ninth-inning home run

If chicks truly dig the long ball, they might want to migrate to Oakland for the summer.

Despite two Athletics home runs Tuesday — giving Oakland an MLB-leading five — it was the lone home run from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim that provided the night’s biggest blow.

That crushing blow was supplied by Danny Espinosa, whose three-run ninth-inning homer snatched the a 7-6 win for the Angels (1-1).

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

Espinosa’s heroics came at the expense of Oakland reliever Ryan Dull (L, 0-1, 13.50 ERA), who was taking a crack at closing one night after Santiago Casilla converted the win for the A’s (1-1).

Asked about the decision to go with Dull in the ninth, manager Bob Melvin said:

“We weren’t using Casilla tonight — he threw a bullpen yesterday, we did some PFP stuff with him — he was down today. And Ryan Madson pitched a good eighth. We were very comfortable with the matchups in the ninth for Ryan (Dull), it just didn’t work out — he made one bad pitch.”

The mistake came on an 0-2 slider, which Dull was trying to get below the zone, the same pitch and location with which he struck out the Angels second baseman just one day earlier.

Said Dull:

“I just missed it by about an inch. That’s the game of baseball: it’s your night one night and the next night it can be the complete opposite.”

It was nearly the A’s night thanks to an exhilarating play in the seventh.

Trailing by two one runners on second and third, Rajai Davis lobbed a hump-back liner down the first base line, glancing off the glove of first baseman Jefry Marte and skipping toward the visitor’s bullpen. The speedy Davis raced around second and was headed for third when Espinosa’s throw skipped past Yunel Escobar at third, sending the Oakland lead-off man scampering home.

Asked about his emotions during the 360-foot sprint, the veteran joked:

“It just felt like little league again.”

Then added, a bit more seriously:

“After it hit off Marte’s glove I was thinking two, but once I got there kinda quick I thought about there (being) only one out so just take a chance.”

As he crossed home, the 36-year-old was wearing a massive cheesy grin. And it was likely matched by A’s starter Sean Manaea (ND, 0-0, 6.00 ERA), who was watching the play on the monitor in the clubhouse.

The “Throwin’ Samoan” was let off the hook by the play, after departing the game trailing 4-2.

As was the case when Manaea struggled for stints last season, the troubles stemmed from the dangerous combination walks and the inability to stem the tide of momentum.

Things came unglued for the starter on a one-out walk of Marte in the second, after blowing through the treacherous top-four portion of the Anaheim order. Four of the next five Angles collected solid singles, with Martin Maldonado and Escobar delivering the damage with two-out RBIs.

He settled in after that, allowing one more tally over his 6 innings. That lone add-on run was also set up by a free pass, and once again it was scored with two already down.

Manaea was tough on himself, saying after the game that the walks were “definitely the problem”:

“That can’t happen. It’s totally on me … that’s something I’ve got to work on.”

The skipper was not as tough, saying:

“He was just a little out of sync when they scored the three runs. … I thought he recovered really well from maybe not having his best stuff in the second inning.”

Long before Espinosa’s emotional trot. And before Davis’ exciting sprint, Ryon Healy launched his first homer of the campaign in the very first inning, immediately dispelling the demons of an 0-for-4, two-strikeout Opening Day performance.

The A’s tallied homer No. 2 on the night, and five in the first two days, when Jed Lowrie sent a second-inning solo shot (1) into the “Right FIeld BBQ Terrace.” The second baseman finished the evening with three hits, falling a triple shy of the cycle — and robbed of that triple on an excellent diving grab by Kole Calhoun in the eighth. Lowrie has started off the season a scalding 5-for-8 (.625) with one RBI and three runs scored.

On deck

Rookie Jharel Cotton will look to get things going in the right direction for the A’s again when he takes the hill facing Garrett Richards at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday. In his only outing against the Angels — his major league debut — the righty allowed two hits and one run in 6-1/3 innings to get the win.

Notes

With a fifth inning triple, driving in Kole Calhoun, two-time MVP Mike Trout collected career RBI No. 500. … Prior to Tuesday, Ryan Dull had not allowed more than two runs in an outing since Sept. 26, 2015 against the San Francisco Giants. … Angels starter Matt Shoemaker (ND, 0-0, 3.60 ERA), who gave up four hits and two runs over 5 frames, was making his first appearance since being struck in the head by a batted ball Sept. 4, 2016.


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