The 2021 A’s are now the third team in Oakland history to start a season 0-5, after the Dodgers (4-1) followed the trend and bludgeoned the A’s with a 10-3 victory Monday night.
Dustin May followed in the Astros footsteps when it came to keeping the A’s bats quiet. May (W, 1-0, 0.00 ERA) allowed just two hits in six innings; the first came off a Mark Canha single on May’s fourth pitch of the night, the second a two-out Mitch Moreland single in the sixth.
Bob Melvin was frustrated not just with Monday’s game but really the entire start of the season:
“Well, I mean we haven’t done anything well so, defensively usually we are really good obviously and so far we have not been but it goes kinda with everything else that has been going on. Seems like everything that could go wrong has at this point.”
May struck out eight batters, walked two and pitched like a true world champion Monday. David Price in relief also gave up a Canha hit, but it wasn’t a single, it was a homer. Canha put the A’s on the board in the bottom of the eighth to keep the A’s from being shut out.
Frankie Montas was throwing nothing but heat but by the second inning had allowed four Dodger runs and reached 90 pitches. Montas gave up back-to-back singles to Max Muncy and Chris Taylor with one out in the second after back-to-back strikeouts to end the first inning. He walked Edwin Rios to load the bases and then Zach McKinstry sacrificed the Dodgers first earned run for the second out. Leadoff man Mookie Betts singled, then Corey Seager doubled to bring in three runs before the inning ended with the Dodgers up 4-0. The Dodgers were a Justin Turner at-bat away from batting around the order.
Montas said the Dodgers kept fouling off his fastball which led to a high pitch count early. Melvin agreed and said it was a combination of making him work by taking pitches and fouling balls off:
“They made him work. They made him throw a lot of pitches and wore him down. It looked like his stuff was really good at the start of the game. I think the first pitch of the game was 98 plus. They just fouled balls off, they took a lot of pitches, they made him throw a ton of pitches in three innings. That gets uncomfortable at some point. Velo started to go down some just cause they wore him out.”
In the third, Montas gave up a solo homer to Will Smith off the left-field foul pole to make it 5-0. Muncy singled to follow then Taylor took a 95-mph slider to the arm to put runners on first and second with one out. McKinstry stepped up for his second plate appearance of the night and earned his second RBI of the game when he singled in the Dodgers sixth run.
Montas’ 90th pitch of the game was a wild pitch which scored a run and made it 7-0. Montas lasted 2 2/3 innings where he gave up seven runs off seven hits. He struck out four, walked three. Montas said his finger felt fine and spoke about the energy in the clubhouse:
“Of course we are a little down. We lost five games in a row, so we are a little down but we know we are a good team and this is just this little funk, as soon as we get out of this, we will get rolling.”
A.J. Puk made his 2021 debut and kept the best lineup in baseball scoreless in his first major league outing since 2019. Puk relieved Montas (L, 0-1, 23.63 ERA) with runners on the corners and struck out swinging Corey Seager on a full count to escape the three-run third. Puk was added to the 26-man roster prior to the game and contributed much better than expected.
Melvin was very pleased with Puk and said he did exactly what they needed in a desperate time:
“He helped us out in the bullpen is what he helped us out with. If we didn’t get those innings out of him today we would have been looking at another real tough situation so at this point in time, he got up four times and threw 60 pitches and right now, his role is going to be helping us out in the bullpen.”
Puk kept the Dodgers scoreless and they couldn’t score until he was a relieved after 3-1/3 innings. Puk struck out four batters and walked three. He was able to escape a bases-loaded situation and joins Lou Trivino as one of the only current promising bullpen options.
Puk said he just wanted to eat some innings so the bullpen could have fresh arms on Tuesday and that is exactly what he did. He hadn’t pitched in the majors since 2019 but his velocity was higher than expected and he said it had to do with the adrenaline of being back on the mound with fans in the stands.
Melvin was thankful of his 2021 debut and touched on the rookie’s velocity:
“His velo still wasn’t there [in spring training] but then all of a sudden it ticked up today. I think it was up to 95 and he saved us. I mean we needed those innings out of him. Not only did we get the innings out of him, he was pretty economical and he got the results too so i think as far as at the big league level, that is as well as he has pitched in a time where we needed him to give us the innings.”
LHP Adam Kolarek pitched the seventh for the Dodgers and the Dodgers added another run. Kolarek has been known to be impossible to hit against left-handers but AJ Pullock singled to leadoff before McKinstry had another RBI single to make it 8-0. Sergio Romo pitched the eighth inning and needed just three pitches before giving up a Turner solo homer to lead off the inning to increase the Dodgers lead to 9-0.
The eighth is when the A’s finally found some rhythm for the first time of the season and were two batters away from batting around the order. Canha led off with a solo shot, his first homer of the year and has been the only A’s player to reach base safely in all five games. Jed Lowrie walked and advanced to second on an Olson groundout. Stephen Piscotty pinch-hit for Moreland to face the left-handed Price and singled to put runners on first and second with one out. Matt Chapman singled to bring in the A’s second run and then Ka’ai Tom singled in the A’s third run of the night. Tom’s first major league hit was an RBI-single off Price in the eighth.
Reymin Guduan came out for the ninth and recorded two outs without allowing a Dodgers run. He gave up a leadoff double to McKinstry, who finished the night 3-for-4 with a sacrifice fly. Guduan pitched his best ninth inning of the season, giving up just one run when Turner singled in McKinstry for a 10-3 lead.
Guduan was relieved after the next play due to an injury. Cody Bellinger hit a grounder to Olson who flipped it to Guduan who had raced Bellinger to the bag for the called out. The Dodgers challenged the play and the call was overturned after just 48 seconds of review to put runners on the corners with two outs.
Melvin explained what was wrong with Guduan:
“He fell on his hand so I don’t know if it was his thumb, I don’t know if it’s a bone bruise or if it’s a sprain. They are still looking at him right now.”
The A’s had to waste a bullpen arm to get the final out in the ninth and used J.B Wendelken to retire Smith. He entered with two outs and runners on first and second. Wendelken walked Smith on a full count to load the bases and Matt Beaty pinch hit for Muncy in the ninth and struck out.
Elvis Andrus had a fielding error after receiving his first career Play of the Week award on Monday. … Ka’ai Tom had his first hit of 2021. … Matt Chapman had his first RBI of the season. … Mark Canha scored two of the A’s three runs.