Two games have come and gone since the Athletics returned to the Oakland Coliseum following a 60-run 7-3 road trip. And they have yet to unpack their offense.
For the second time in as many nights, the A’s (25-24) wasted a fantastic start, falling to the Mariners, 1-0.
This time the starter, Daniel Gossett, was a youngster in desperate need of some positivity. Gossett (L, 0-2, 5.65 ERA) did his job Wednesday, holding Seattle (29-19) to a single unearned run in his seven innings of work, but was still saddled with the loss.
Gossett’s effort wasn’t enough because of the Oakland offense’s inability to put anything together against Mariners starter Marco Gonzales. After their scoreless performance, the A’s are now 9-19 against the American League West, and 16-5 against the rest of the league.
Manager Bob Melvin said that this was the most confidence Gossett has shown in his 21 big league games. Gossett agreed, offering a thought that perhaps his offense should consider adopting:
“If you don’t have anything to be confident about, fake it. You have to be confident on the mound.”
Gossett came out rolling, coaxing groundouts from the first two batters he faced before striking out the next four. But he needed an assist from the defense to get through three scoreless, and he got it from Stephen Piscotty in right field.
Staring down Mike Zunino, whose two-run homer Tuesday night robbed Trevor Cahill and the A’s of a win, Gossett fell into a 2-1 hole against the first Seattle hitter he saw in the third then left a changeup up, about a foot above the down-and-away target. Zunino went with it, hammering what appeared to be his eighth homer of the season ticketed for the void beyond the right-field wall.
But the 6-foot-4 Piscotty turned the Mariners catcher away, rising above the eight foot-high wall.
Piscotty robs a home run! 😱 pic.twitter.com/FdET1JXkPU
— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) May 24, 2018
The Oakland starter called his right fielder’s effort “crazy” and “amazing.” Melvin it was exactly the type of thing a team that is struggling to score needs:
“When you’re doing nothing offensively, you’re trying to find some [way] to try to created some momentum.”
Gossett looked to his defense once again an inning later. This time though, he did not receive the answer he was looking for.
After allowing lead-off double to Guillermo Heredia, who advanced to third with one down on a Nelson Cruz fly ball to Piscotty in right, Gossett earned what should have been an out at the plate on a much better changeup, getting Kyle Seager to chop one to a pulled-in Marcus Semien.
But Semien couldn’t scoop the grounder two steps onto the infield grass, and was unable to record the out that should have been at home, instead allowing Seager to reach on his ninth error of the season.
Minding the positives rather than the negative of the error and loss, Gossett said he the changeup is a pitch that will breed further confidence from him going forward, adding that it is a big part of his arsenal but something he has gone away from in the majors:
“I’ve always thrown my changeup, then I get to the big leagues and I stop throwing it. I think it’s a good pitch to be able to mix in and throw for strikes. Being able to use that pitch can get me back into counts and get outs — early contact, bad contact.”
Gossett once again got a nice play from Piscotty — a diving catch to rob John Andreoli of a one-out single with Ben Gamel standing at second — to finish his seven four-hit innings. He walked just one, struck out five and held Seattle to the lone unearned run.
Gonzales (W, 4-3, 4.05 ERA) only needed the one, holding the A’s scoreless on two hits and two walks over his seven innings. He struck out six. The A’s found little luck after he departed, getting just one hit off Seattle set-up man Juan Nicasio before being put away on three straight strikeouts by closer Edwin Díaz (S, 17, 1.78 ERA).
Of his offense, which has now scored two runs or fewer in seven straight home games, Melvin said:
“We just didn’t do anything offensively. We couldn’t put any pressure on them, and really didn’t hit a ball hard until [the eighth inning]. Unfortunately, the offense wasn’t there for us again tonight.”
Josh Lucas (0-0, 1.35 ERA) will make his first start since 2013 (with Short-Season A State College) Thursday, five days after a 3-2/3-inning relief outing in Toronto. Lucas has appeared in two games since the A’s acquired him via trade with the Cardinals, allowing four hits and two walks in 6-2/3 innings. Manager Bob Melvin isn’t expecting Lucas to go beyond one trip through the Seattle lineup, saying the most important thing is keeping the career reliever healthy:
“Obviously, he’s not going to be out there for 130 pitches. It’s going to be more about just starting the game and maybe getting once around the lineup.”
Asked if he could see the A’s adopting the Rays plan of attack, using a relief pitcher for the first three to six outs, Melvin said:
“I can’t say I’ve done it before. … It’s not something we’re looking at right now, I’m still in the camp where starters need to give you some innings so you take some pressure off the relievers.”
In his first big league starting assignment, Lucas draws former Cy Young winner Félix Hernández (5-3, 5.53 ERA) who brings a career 13-3 record and 2.76 ERA in 24 starts at the Oakland Coliseum.
Prior to the game, the A’s placed home run and RBI leader Khris Davis (13, 38) on the 10-day disabled list with a Grade 1 right groin strain, retroactive to May 20. Manager Bob Melvin said that while he is hopeful Davis will be available when the 10-day minimum is up, on May 30, the designated hitter will not be activated until there are no lingering effects of the strain. Franklin Barreto was recalled to fill the roster vacancy left with Davis’ injury. … In order to clear a roster spot for Wednesday’s starter Daniel Gossett, the A’s designated reliever Wilmer Font for assignment. Font has appeared in four games since the A’s acquired him in a trade with the Dodgers, allowing five home runs and 11 earned runs in 6-2/3 innings. … Mariners rookie John Andreoli recorded his big league with a opposite-field line-drive single in the fifth. … The 6,991 announced attendance for Wednesday’s game was the smallest for an A’s game in Oakland since 2003.