The Oakland Athletics continued their freefall, committing two more errors and losing their fifth in a row Monday night.
Oakland (44-59) created opportunities, setting up 13 at-bats with runners in scoring position, and cashed in on them at a higher clip than their season average, getting four hits in those at-bats (.308), but it wasn’t enough as the Minnesota Twins escaped with a 6-3 win.
Adding insult to injury, this slide — part of a 2-9 stretch — comes with Bob Melvin on the cusp of career managerial win No. 1,000.
His team had more hits with runners in scoring position than runs scored. It countered four excellent defensive plays with two errors. All told, Melvin said he saw a lot of sloppiness, but it was his offense’s deficiencies that took center stage:
“We had some opportunities to score a few more runs, especially bases loaded and nobody out, and we don’t do anything with that. Next inning — double to lead off the inning, don’t do anything with that.”
Keeping the ball in the park has been the key to success through Daniel Gossett‘s first two months as a major leaguer. In his two wins coming into Friday, the rookie hurler had allowed one home run combined in his two wins, and nine homers in his other six starts.
He prevented the long ball Friday, but that wasn’t enough to keep the Twins (50-51) off the scoreboard.
Gossett (L, 2-6, 5.74 ERA) struggled early and often, allowing a double to the second batter of the evening and at least one base runner in each of the first four innings.
Coming off consecutive “quality starts” in which he allowed a combined five earned runs in 13 innings, Gossett was forced to battle from behind his own self early:
“That’s baseball. Baseball will humble you very quickly. … Started feeling pretty good about myself, and then baseball stepped in real quick.”
The defense bailed him out early, though, limiting the damage in the second and stunting a rally before it could blossom in the third.
A perfect relay from from Rajai Davis and Adam Rosales cut down Eddie Rosario at the plate delaying the game’s first run, though it was scored later in the frame on a two-out RBI single from Ehire Adrianza.
After walking Max Kepler to open the third, Gossett was once again bailed out. This time it was third baseman Matt Chapman making a diving backhanded snag behind the third base bag. Just getting to the ball was near miraculous, but the rookie quickly rose to his feet and fired to second where Rosales turned it into a double play.
“We’ll talk about Chapman plays for quite a while — until you get so used to it you quit asking me. But there aren’t too many guys that make that play and get one out, let alone two. … He’s settling in pretty good, and defensively he’s going to save you a lot of runs.”
The stellar defense could only supplant Gossett for so long, however, and the Twins’ heat boiled over in the fourth.
Five straight hitter collected knocks with one out as Minnesota piled on four runs, setting the table for Gossett’s removal. The Oakland starter lasted just 3-2/3, handing out nine hits, five runs — four earned — and three walks on 89 pitches.
Following his worst start since his major league debut, Gossett was quite candid addressing his outing:
“Frustrated. Embarrassed. But you’ve got to take your lumps and move on. We can always learn from stuff like this.”
The A’s did answer, putting up a two-spot on a two-run double from back-up backstop Ryan Lavarnway, the 29-year-old catcher’s first big league hit since Oct. 4, 2015.
That little life shown by Lavarnway and the Oakland offense was short-lived. They added another in the fifth, on an RBI single from Khris Davis, but let earlier opportunities lost lead to a complete lack thereof. After being held scoreless in the second and third innings, despite having a runner in scoring position with no outs both times, the A’s never got a runner to second after their one-run fifth.
He said he was happy to contribute, pulling his team to within three in the early goings:
“I think I’ve been called up and sent down 14 times, at this point. You never know, every time, if you’re going to get back up, so I’m honored to have an opportunity and I’m gonna try to do everything I can to take advantage of it.”
Joining Lavarnway among the few A’s bright spots was the bullpen. Frankie Montas, who allowed a single run, Simon Castro and Daniel Coulombe slowed the Minnesota offense, surrendering one tally in 5-1/3 innings.
Journeyman Chris Smith (0-1, 3.32 ERA) is scheduled to make get the start Saturday. The 36-year-old journeyman has been held winless despite three strong starts since being called up on July 8 as he searches for his first big league win in nine years. He will face Adalberto Mejia (4-4, 4.10 ERA).
Manager Bob Melvin said before the game that he expects utility man Chad Pinder (left hamstring) to return to the A’s at some point during the Bay Bridge series next week. Pinder (.234/.289/.490) has been on the disabled list May 19. He is batting .143 (3-for-21) with one homer over six games in a rehab assignment with Triple-A Nashville. … Melvin confirmed that Jharel Cotton (blister) will get the starting assignment in Game 1 against the San Francisco Giants Monday. Cotton (5-8, 5.17 ERA) is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in two rehab appearances since suffering the blister on July 3.