Oakland couldn’t catch Angels starter Griffin Canning. But once the 23-year-old rookie departed 92 pitches and six innings into his afternoon the A’s (29-27) ran down the Los Angeles bullpen, and for the second day in a row Matt Olson tied things up with a two-run blast late — this time in the eighth.
Neither closer could hold the line though, and what started out as a one-team race became a back-and-forth battle that saw 10 runs exchanged between the seventh and ninth innings. The four-hour 36-minute death match was finally decided in the 11th when the Angels (26-29) tagged Lou Trivino for five runs to claim a 12-7 win and series victory.
“Our offense had a good game today. I didn’t help anyone out there. … The loss is on me.”
Trivino (L, 2-1, 3.67 ERA), like Blake Treinen, had a hard time commanding his electric stuff, leaving pitch after pitcher up and either hitable in the zone or well above it — a disastrous combination. The pair issued a combined five free passes, four hits and seven runs.
Manager Bob Melvin said of the duo:
“It ended up not being our day. It’s not like these guys got pounded.”
Long before he exasperated his bullpen, Melvin asked Hendriks (ND, 2-0, 1.76 ERA) to get through the first frame before handing the ball to scheduled starter Daniel Mengden for the second.
Prior to the game, Melvin said the decision to start Hendriks, a decision made Tuesday night after the reliever worked to innings out of the bullpen, was based on Hendriks’ recent run of success. He entered the afternoon tilt having worked 14-2/3 consecutive scoreless frames — he had also allowed just eight hits and three walks while striking out 17 over that span.
Two rare free passes set the table, and an in-the zone-mistake, 1-2 fastball over the middle of the plate, gave César Puello a cheap two-run single.
After the game, Melvin said that while Hendriks’ stuff looked good it didn’t look as good as it had less than 24 hours earlier. Hendriks, like Trivino, was willing to wear the blame of defeat on his shoulders alone:
“I felt fine, I wasn’t quite finishing pitches today. … Obviously, you give up two hits and two walks it’s not going to be a good outing. It’s the problem with opening, I wasn’t on today and it showed, it put us behind the eight-ball to start off. It’s just unacceptable.”
Puello once again abused a mistake in the seventh, giving Los Angeles insurance in the form of a two-run blast to left, the first homer of his big league career.
Canning (ND, 2-1, 3.06 ERA) departed with a 5-1 lead with nine outs left to get, the only blemish on his otherwise dominant outing a Marcus Semien solo home run (7) in the third.
Two run-scoring fielder’s choice grounders from Jurickson Profar and Ramón Laureano jumpstarted what had been a stagnant Oakland offense in the seventh, answering Puello’s blast. Then a two-out, two-run dinger (7) from Olson, his seventh in 21 games since returning from the Injured List, erased what remained of Los Angeles’ early lead.
For a team that has been riding a magical run, much like the one that catapulted them into the playoff race a season ago, the late homer seemed like a swing that would once again turn defeat into victory. Alas, it did not. Melvin was willing to shrug it off, saying, “that’s baseball”:
“I don’t think there was a minute after Oly hit the home run that we didn’t think we were going to win. In a pretty good position with some of our better relievers able to bring in the game, too, and unfortunately it just didn’t work out.”
Trivino worked a scoreless 10th. Out of team necessity, though, he was sent back to the mound for the 11th, where he never recorded an out, hitting one batter, walking three and mixing two hits and a wild pitch into a rough frame. The beneficiary of his implosion was Los Angeles reliever Noé Ramirez (W, 2-0, 4.62 ERA) who pitched the 10th and 11th to lock down a series victory for his Halos.
Olson, who was saddled with his first error in 75 games in the 11th, said that his club will continue to claw back, because that is all it knows:
“That’s kinda what we do, we find a way to battle in games. … You obviously want to win those games, but you can’t win every one. We put a good effort out.”
Melvin concurred, adding that there are positives to be taken from this defeat:
“They’re always going to fight, obviously we just didn’t have enough today — the other team fought pretty hard too. … We’re never going to back down, this group just doesn’t know how.”
After a rare home off-day, Oakland will welcome the Astros (37-19) into town for a three-game weekend series. Manager Bob Melvin called it a big early-season series, though he admitted it would be a hard-fought season set:
“We know we’re going to play them 19 times and they’re always a battle. … They always present some challenges — the guy they run out on the mound every night gives them a chance to win.”
Khris Davis (hip/oblique contusion) took dry swings Tuesday, and after feeling no pain advanced to tee and soft toss work Wednesday. Manager Bob Melvin remains hopeful that Davis will be activated when his time on the 10-day Injured List is up Saturday. … Jharel Cotton (Tommy John surgery) threw two hitless innings of relief for Advanced-A Stockton Tuesday. No timetable is set for his return from the IL but Melvin said that once Cotton is activated it will be as a reliever. … Sean Manaea (left shoulder surgery) threw a 40-pitch bullpen session and felt no pain in his throwing shoulder. Like Cotton, the A’s have not set a timetable for his return. Unlike Cotton, a possible rehab assignment remains out of sight for Oakland. … With a two-out double in the fifth, Ramón Laureano extended his career-best hitting streak to 12 games. He is batting .350 (14-for-40) during that span.