Stung by Rays in 13, A’s waste another Cahill gem

For the third time in four starts, Trevor Cahill was absolutely overwhelming at home, only to watch his offense run quiet.

The Athletics (28-26) are now 2-2 at the Oakland Coliseum in his starts, after falling to the Rays (26-25), 1-0, in 13 innings Sunday. And Cahill’s record stands pat at 1-0 in those games, after he was saddled with his second scoreless no decision in four outings.

Tampa Bay starter Chris Archer is to be commended for this no decision. He was masterful in his own right, holding Oakland to four hits in six scoreless frames to claim his own “ND.” It wasn’t until the Rays pieced together a two-out rally against Chris Hatcher (L, 3-2, 4.58 ERA) in the thirteenth that the game saw its first, only and deciding run to earn Ryne Stanek (W, 1-0, 3.24 ERA) the first win of his career.

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

Manager Bob Melvin said, after being on the winning end of a pair of similar low-scoring games over the weekend, being on the losing end was a heart-breaker:

“It’s tough to be on that side, using that many guys, and still not getting it done. Our guys pitched well, we just didn’t swing the bats all that well.”

Melvin followed his starter with his top three reliever in the customary tied-at-home reversed order. After Blake Treinen, Lou Trivino and Yusmeiro Petit worked a scoreless ninth, tenth and eleventh, in order, Hatcher threw a zero on the twelfth. He was one out from a scoreless thirteenth when Johnny FieldJesús Sucre and Mallex Smith tallied successive singles to plate the game’s lone run.

After getting five outs from his rookie reliever, Rays skipper Kevin Cash brought in lefty Jonny Venters (S, 1, 1.04 ERA) to strikeout Matt Olson for his first save since 2011.

Cahill (ND, 1-2, 2.25 ERA) entered Monday’s game having allowed just two runs in 20 innings, spanning three starts, this season at the Oakland Coliseum, and had recorded 23 of his 35 strikeouts at home. He continued that run of dominance, surrendering four hits without a single walk while striking out six in eight scoreless — lowering his home ERA from 0.90 to 0.64, the best among any big league starter with more than one home start.

The 30-year-old starter, who spent his first three big league seasons (2009-11) with the A’s before taking a tour of the league, said his home success is as simple as being comfortable on the Oakland bump:

“You’re just comfortable with the mound and everything from the rubber, the rosin bag. It’s kinda what you’re used to so it makes it a little easier.”

He got a little help from some poor Tampa Bay base running. Two of the four hits he allowed came back-to-back in the third inning, the first a two-out single by catcher Sucre, then lead-off man Mallex Smith followed with a booming fly ball to left.

Chad Pinder, appearing in left field for the 21st time as a major leaguer, came forward with his first step before backpedaling and eventually turning around to watch the Smith drive bang off the wall. Sucre, with two outs, was unable to come around for the game’s first run, and Cahill struck out C.J. Cron to leave him at third.

The same thing happened in the sixth. Cron extended things with a two-out single and former-Athletic Joey Wendle roped a double down the right-field line. Cron, like Sucre, was unable to so much as challenge the A’s to make a play at home, coasting into third. Matt Duffy rolled an innocent grounder to Marcus Semien stranding a pair of Rays in scoring position for the second time.

Those were the only Tampa Bay base runners Cahill allowed.

Said Melvin:

“He’s been great. Unfortunately, he’s a guy that we don’t score a whole lot for. … He’s pitched great, he’s pitched as well as he did back when he was here before.”

The A’s weren’t without their own base running flaws. Oakland recorded its second hit of the game in the fourth, a leadoff single by Semien. But in a 3-2 count to Jed Lowrie, Melvin sent the speedy Semien who was gunned down by Sucre on the back-end of Lowrie’s strikeout.

Semien is now 4-for-8 on stolen bases, leading the A’s in both steals and caught stealings (4).

Olson followed with a double adding vinegar to the wound.

Archer (ND, 3-3, 4.29 ERA) departed after coaxing an inning-ending, bases-loaded wasting double play from Olson in the sixth, departing with a first pump and four hits, two walks and seven strikeouts to his record.

Gaffes on the base paths arose again to bite the A’s in the ninth.

After a Lowrie double and Olson walk to start the frame, Pinder, who entered the game with a .267 average (second-best on the team) over the past week, dropped a sacrifice bunt. It took an excellent barehanded play from Sucre, who bounced out of his crouch much quicker than he ran the bases six innings earlier, to get Lowrie at third. But it was the choice to give up Pinder’s bat to set up Matt Chapman, .095 in the past week, and Stephen Piscotty, .059 in the past week, each of whom went down without a whimper, that is left to ponder.

The Oakland skipper said that the decision to bunt was his, not Pinder’s, adding that it took a “hell of a play” to get the out they did:

“I had him bunting. I was going to go pitch to pitch with it, but with the way the game was going you can’t sit around and wait for hits. We felt like, if we get a guy to third we can get him in with a sac fly or, maybe, a ground ball.”

In the end, it was the A’s shortcomings that came back to haunt in a 13-inning, one-run game.

On Deck

Daniel Gossett gets his third big league starting assignment of the season Tuesday facing a Rays team against whom he has allowed three runs (two earned) over seven innings in one career start. Gossett (0-2, 6.28 ERA) made his return to the big leagues five days after a month and a half in the minors, allowing one run (which was changed from unearned to earned a day after the outing) in seven innings to take a loss. He will face Blake Snell (6-3, 2.78 ERA) who is 3-2 with a 4.59 ERA on the road (3-1, 0.86 ERA at home) this season.

Notes

Designated hitter Khris Davis (right groin strain) did running and agility exercises on the field before Monday’s game. Davis, the A’s home runs leader (13), was placed on the 10-day disabled list on May 23, retroactive to May 20, and is eligible to be reactivated Thursday. As a team, the A’s are batting an American League-worst .174 since his injury — they have also scored the fewest runs (12) in that time. … Monday’s game, No. 54 on the season, is the one-third mark of the 2018 season. The A’s are currently fourth in the American League West (5-1/2 games behind the Astros) but hold the sixth-best record in the American League and are currently 4-1/2 games out of the second Wild Card spot (Mariners, 32-20).


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.