The Oakland offense has hit a bump in the road, and the defense continues to be offensive. The summation: The Athletics‘ first six-game losing streak since June 2016.
The A’s (35-48) could muster just five hits Monday night. They also committed two errors, and had two more defensive misses ruled as hits, in suffering a 7-2 loss at the hands of the Chicago White Sox.
In front of more than 40,000 fans — the A’s largest draw since 2005 — the green and gold couldn’t capture any energy. Manager Bob Melvin said it was frustrating:
“We really didn’t do anything well. If you swing the bats, it kinda hides some of the other issues you might have, and we didn’t swing the bats — you’re not going to win with five hits — and we didn’t do anything else very well, too.”
Starter Jharel Cotton was twice unable to find a third out to evade early damage. The White Sox (37-45) found their way onto the board in the second on a two-out RBI single from Tim Anderson to open the scoring, and things got worse in the third.
After being gifted a weak pop-up from the slugging Jose Abreu on a 3-1 hanging cutter for the second out, Cotton (L, 5-8, 5.17 ERA) left another cutter up to Todd Frazier, who floated a double down the right field line and scored in the second. Frazier smothered it, sending a missile into the left field corner to score two.
Cotton then fell behind Matt Davidson before leaving a 2-0 cutter up to him. The Chicago DH lined his own RBI double into the left-center field gap.
The right-hander, coming off an early removal nine days ago due to a blister, called the blister a non-issue, adding that his problems go no further than a “couple cutters (that) didn’t cut”:
“It’s irritating because it’s two outs and two strikes. You just want to get that put-away pitch, and I just wasn’t … they got the big hits with two strikes. I’ve got to get better at that.”
Cotton lasted 5 innings, tagged with seven hits and fours runs.
Asked how a young pitcher learns to overcome such problems, Melvin was very matter-of-fact:
“Get the third out. Two-out hits kinda zap the momentum from you. You get to a point where you’re pitch away from getting out of the inning, then all of a sudden they score some runs.”
Things appeared to further compound on Cotton when he walked Yolmer Sanchez following Davidson’s double. As ball four scooted under catcher Josh Phegley, Davidson made a blatant base running blunder attempting to snag third. But, navigating his way around home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, Phegley found the ball midway between the left hander’s batter’s box and the visitor’s on-deck circle, slinging it to third to get Davidson by a large margin.
But the damage was done. And on the heels of a three-run, two-out third inning outburst in Cotton’s support.
White Sox starter Carlos Rodon was laboring, both competitively and physically. Missing well outside with a 2-2 changeup to Barreto, the big lefty appeared to tweak something in his lower back. After a brief visit from the Chicago training staff, the oft-injured Rodon (W, 1-1, 1.59 ERA) remained in the game, but missed the zone with seven of his next nine offerings.
When he came back into the zone Adam Rosales cashed in the tying and go-ahead runs, slapping a single the other way.
Rodon surrendered four hits and two runs in his 6-1/3, but he struck out 10. All told, Chicago pitching recorded 13 strikeouts while allowing just nine base runners — five hits and four walks. Oakland hitters have now struck out 800 times — second-most in the American League. Of that mounting total, Melvin said:
“That’s the world we’ve been living in recently. When we play well, we hit home runs, but we also strike out a lot. … It’s been an Achilles heel for us.”
The skipper added that putting the ball is the only way to allow the opposition to beat themselves:
“When you strike out no one is going to make a mistake.”
Rosales was one of three A’s starters not struck out. But he was responsible with one of those self-beating mistakes, committing both Oakland errors. The first one largely inconsequential, granting Frazier third base in front of Davidson’s double. The second fueled a two-run eighth-inning rally for the White Sox, who added another in the ninth to seal the A’s sixth straight loss, and eighth consecutive in Oakland.
The A’s and White Sox honor Independence Day with an afternoon tilt Tuesday. It will be a pitching rematch of the June 24 contest in Chicago which ended with Daniel Gossett (1-3, 5.57 ERA) earning his first major league win after out-dueling James Shields (2-1 3.98 ERA).
Reliever Ryan Dull (right knee) threw a bullpen session prior to the game, he has not pitched since May 19. Manager Bob Melvin said that further steps in his rehab process will be determined based on how he feels Tuesday. … Third baseman Matt Chapman (left knee) returned to the lineup at third base, he had been out since June 18. … The announced attendance for the game was 40,019, the first A’s home game since Sept. 4, 2005 to break the 40,000-mark.