Gray rocked by Rays in 7-3 loss


O.CO COLISEUM — Two hits. Dos. Deux. That’s all the A’s could muster from Tampa Bay starter Jeremy Hellickson.

Hellickson (W, 7 IP, 1 ER, 3 K) helped the Rays beat Oakland 7-3 Wednesday afternoon, as Sonny Gray (12-5, L, 4 1/3 IP, 10 H, 6 ER) was rocked and the A’s only run coming from a solo homer from Eric Sogard.

Photos by Godofredo Vasquez/SFBay

The only other hit of the game for Oakland was a single from outfielder Coco Crisp. While there was a late game rally started by third baseman Josh Donaldson, it wasn’t nearly enough to win.

Kevin Kiermaier owned Gray, going 1-for-4 with a home run and a ground-out RBI. Ben Zobrist had three hits, a run, an RBI and a walk, in five trips to the plate.

In fact, every player in the Rays order reached base at least one time against A’s pitching.

After the game, a noticeably upset Gray said:

“I don’t know (if the outing was a mechanical issue or not). If I knew, then I’d be more in the zone. I don’t know. It happens some times. I thought I was close. Just didn’t have that extra life today.”

Fans repeatedly booed the home plate umpire, John Tumpane, who only started calling games in 2010. Tumpane’s zone appeared to float, changing by the batter or by the inning.

Donaldson, after being called out on strikes — a pitch that was wrist high and inside — stopped and gawked, starring downwards for a few seconds.

It prompted Tumpane to bark at him while he was heading back to the dugout.

Regardless of what the team thinks of Tumpane’s strike zone Wednesday, the A’s have been on an offensive slide lately.

First baseman Brandon Moss is 0-17 since July, and hasn’t recorded a hit since the club traded star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. Fans would like to point to that as a reason for the slump, though the woes have been ongoing, and started before the trade.

Crisp, who played his first game of August on Monday, has recorded a hit in both of his two recent starts. The leadoff hitter, Crisp has been known to be an important part of Oakland’s. His last game before getting injured was on July 26, in which he went 0-4.

He’d recorded only one hit in the three games before his that.

Craig Gentry, the secondary leadoff man, was placed on the 15-day disabled list on July 28. Without any designated catalyst, the A’s have been hurting. Reddick, unlike many fans, doesn’t think the offensive struggles are directly correlated to the Cespedes trade:

“We were struggling a week before he got traded, a lot of people can lean on that as a crutch, but we’re not doing that. We know we’re a good lineup, with or without him. Obviously we’re going to miss that guy, but we gotta step up. Someone’s gotta step up.”

The A’s have not won more than two straight games since a six game streak during the first week of July. Over the last two series, three games apiece, Oakland has won only half.

Their blistering start to the season, which continued into July, had A’s fans nearly betting the farm that a World Series was going to happen. Not just a possibility, it was guaranteed.

But the last two to three weeks have made those some fans weary.

They’ve won only five of their last 10, and have scored more than four runs in only two. Manager Bob Melvin said:

“We’ve seen stretches where we’ve scored double-digit runs, hence the run differential where we’re at right now. But we’re not doing that right now. We’re at a point where we’re getting consistent at bats, putting crooked numbers up there, scoring multiple runs. It’s going to happen over the course of the season, and that’s where you have to be over the course of a season.”

Oakland won the first two against Tampa, and they’ll finish the day with a division lead of at least one game, as the rival Angels face off against the Dodgers in the evening time.

Follow @SFBay and @JLeskiwNFL on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Athletics.

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