Trout’s three hits helps Angels hook Bassitt, A’s

The Athletics continued their early-season tumble down the AL West rabbit hole Friday night, falling 8-4 to the Angels.

Behind the combination of Mike Trout — who maintained his month-long sizzle despite not adding to his league-leading 23 home runs — and shoddy early Oakland defense, the Angels (38-32) ended a four-game slide while dropping the A’s to (34-36) to 10-24 against divisional opponents.

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

Manager Bob Melvin said:

“The early part of the game was about as bad as we’ve played. Kept grinding and came back, which is good to see. … So hopefully we can come out and play a lot better tomorrow.”

Chris Bassitt (L, 0-2, 2.45 ERA) took his second loss in as many starts since his return from Tommy John surgery, committing one of Oakland’s two errors before departing after 102 pitches in just four innings.

Bassitt said that he had the plate shifted all night — he was throwing fastballs away to righties that he thought were perfect only to see when reviewing film that they were just outside. He also had little to no command of any off-speed pitches leading to the inability to finish hitters. Add in errors and he was twisted up in the perfect storm of elevated pitch counts:

“I threw a lot of non-competitive pitches tonight, 0-2, 1-2, where out of my hand it was a ball. … Every way to throw a short outing out there is kinda what happened.”

He wasn’t hit hard. Six of the seven hits he allowed were for one base — with the other coming in the form of an Ian Kinsler solo home run (9) — but the defense was not there when he called upon it for a much-needed assist.

Part of that problem was a miscue of his own that led to two Los Angeles runs in the first inning.

With one down and two on base, Bassitt fooled Albert Pujols with an 85-mph cutter off the outside, coaxing a weak lunging swing from the future Hall of Famer. Like a kitten on a ball of yarn, Bassitt pounced on it halfway between third and home, but his throw sailed too high even for the 6-foot-5 Matt Olson at first. As the ball rattled around the visitor’s bullpen, two Angels came scampering home.

Bassitt he broke the golden rule, making the pickup with his bare hand. And when he did, he came up with a “funky” grip:

“I kinda had some time, knowing that Pujols doesn’t really run that well, but I tried to kinda throw it over there and sailed it. I wish I had that back because it kinda just started that snowball and it just kept going.”

One of the two Halos to score was Trout, who got things started serving a one-out single to right. Trout, a two-time MVP, got off to a cold start — by his standards — but he has been the absolute opposite of cold since May 18. In 25 games previous to Friday, he had slashed .356/.468/.833 with 11 homers — pushing him into baseball’s top spot — and 20 RBIs.

Bassitt and the Oakland bullpen kept him Trout in the yard, something Seattle had trouble doing serving up four homers in three previous games this week, Trout’s impact was felt in the form of a 3-for-4 performance with a walk, an RBI and two runs scored.

Jed Lowrie did his best to counter the Angels center fielder, and perhaps broke out of his slump in doing so.

Before Friday, Lowrie had recorded just one hit in 24 at-bats (.042 average) during the A’s current homestand, and 15 hits in 88 at-bats (.170) in 23 games since May 18. The Oakland second baseman, still batting third despite the funk, collected three hits in four trips.

Melvin said a Lowrie awakening would be very significant, particularly with news coming down the pipes late Friday that Matt Chapman would need to be placed on the disabled list with a hand injury:

“Very important for us, especially with the potential of losing Chapman for a while too, you need to lean on the guys in the middle of your lineup a little bit more. … To see him get three hits tonight, both left- and right-handed, is a good sign.”

But Lowrie’s bat produced nothing of note, and by the time the A’s finally did find the scoreboard in the fifth, on back-to-back RBI doubles by Josh Phegley and Marcus Semien Los Angeles’ onslaught of singles had chiseled out an 8-0 advantage.

The Angels’ two biggest innings, a two-run first and three-run third, received considerable boosts by egregious Oakland errors — first Bassitt’s, then a would-be double play turned run-scoring boo-boo from Chad Pinder.

All told, Los Angeles put six runs, four unearned, on Bassitt, who struck out three and walked one, before adding two more to Carlos Ramírez‘s record before the A’s bullpen shut the door.

Eight was too great a hill to climb, facing the lone healthy hurler held over from the Halos Opening Day rotation.

For Tyler Skaggs (W, 6-4, 2.81 ERA), who held Oakland to two unearned runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out eight.

The A’s added single runs in the eighth and ninth, but left a pair in scoring position when Pinder struck out.

On Deck

The A’s look to end their four-game slide Saturday sending Sean Manaea (5-6, 3.49 ERA) to the mound for the matinee. Manaea is coming off his best start in over five weeks having scattered six hits in 7-1/3 two-run innings against the Royals his last time out. The Angles have not yet announced a starter and are currently carrying 10 relievers on their active roster, so a bullpen day is high probability.

Notes

Athletics 2018 first-round draft pick Kyler Murray (No. 9 overall) made his first appearance at the Oakland Coliseum prior to the game. Murray, who plans to play football at the University of Oklahoma in the fall, and the A’s reached a contract agreement Friday. … Matt Chapman, who was hit by a pitch on the left hand Tuesday night and had that same hand flare up Thursday when he committed two errors, was out of the starting lineup Friday night. Manager Bob Melvin said that the third baseman had an MRI Friday. After the game, Melvin said that Chapman would be placed on the disabled list with Franklin Barreto to be recalled in his place. Barreto is hitless in six at-bats with the A’s this season, and is slashing .239/.339/.447 with Triple-A Nashville. Melvin added that all options will be open when it comes to filling the third base role, mentioning Barreto, Pinder (who got the start there Friday night) and Jed Lowrie.


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.