Not since 1916 — before television and prohibition, and in the midst of World War I — had an Athletics team started a major league season 0-6. Yet here we stand, in 2021, and the Oakland A’s are still searching for their first win after a deflating 5-1 loss to the Dodgers Tuesday night.
The A’s were held to just four hits and couldn’t score after the first inning. They remain winless but there is still no panic from players. Melvin is clearly frustrated, but there is not much he can do.
Clayton Kershaw (W, 1-1, 4.26 ERA) allowed one run off back-to-back doubles in the first, then kept Oakland quiet for six innings. He pitched seven full and only allowed one run off four hits, ending the night with eight strikeouts and zero walks on 91 pitches.
Melvin spoke about how great of a night Kershaw had and how the team had trouble with his slider:
“That’s the one we were getting our bad swings on and our strikeouts. It looks like his fastball. Not a ton of break to it. It’s late breaking, it’s just a couple miles off his fastball. It’s his best pitch here recently and he’s learned to do some things a little differently here too. The slider is his go-to pitch and it’s just tough to recognize.”
The A’s first lead of 2021 — in the first inning against the World Series Champions — lasted just two outs. Back-to-back standing doubles to deep right field from Jed Lowrie and Ramon Laureano gave the A’s a 1-0 lead after the first inning. Laureano’s first plate appearance in three games was a one-out RBI-double.
Stephen Piscotty explained that the pressure players put on themselves will slowly go away once they get their first good at-bat:
“Certain guys, myself included have been struggling out he gate. When you get that first knock or you square up that first ball, that pressure melts away so I think it’s only a matter of time where that starts to happen for everyone. You saw that with Jed [Lowrie] tonight. He squared up four balls I think. He did an incredible job against a tough pitcher, Ramon [Laureano] has been doing what he does so I think once you get that first knock or that first really good at bat it helps you to relax in your next at bats.”
Chris Bassitt (L, 0-2, 5.56 ERA) allowed the Dodgers first run of the night in the second starting with a leadoff single to Edwin Ríos. Bassitt walked Gavin Lux before an Austin Barnes double tied it 1-1. With one out, Mookie Betts grounded into a fielder’s choice and gold glove first baseman Mitch Moreland, who made his first start at first base Tuesday night, chose to throw to 2020 Rookie of the Year catcher Sean Murphy who made the tag at home for the second to keep the Dodgers from taking the lead. Bassitt escaped with only one earned run thanks to his infield, but the third inning was nothing like the second.
Bassitt was extremely hard on himself after the game and tipped his cap to the World Series Champions:
“They whooped my ass today, no way else around it… I don’t know if I hit a spot all night to be honest with you. My location was just awful but again I mean I haven’t had many teams when I was missing a lot of spots, hit me like that so I mean we will make adjustments, I will clean it up, but tip your hat.”
Justin Turner lead off the third with a single to center before Max Muncy launched a bomb to right field to make it 3-1. Ríos hit the second homer of the inning with one out to make it 4-1. Bassitt kept the Dodgers scoreless from the third until he was relieved in the sixth by Lou Trivino, who pitched the seventh for Oakland.
Bassitt pitched six full after lasting 5 1/3 in his first start. He gave up four earned runs off seven hits, two being homers. He finished the night with four strikeouts, one walk and one hit batter after 102 pitches, 65 of them strikes. Trivino pitched a perfect seventh for Oakland and Yusmeiro Petit tried to follow his footsteps but it wasn’t perfect, just scoreless. Petit walked the leadoff batter and only gave up a two-out single to Lux.
Bob Melvin thought Tuesday was Bassitt’s best outing so far:
“I thought he pitched fine. A couple bad pitches maybe. One to Muncy, maybe one to Ríos but when you aren’t scoring any runs, every bad pitch you make it magnified. Probably the best outing so far. Went deep enough in the game where we didn’t have to use too many relievers. We just couldn’t support him offensively. I thought he threw the ball well.”
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the A’s share of the 7,672 fans finally had something to cheer about, but it was quickly shut down. Stephen Piscotty hit a two-out bomb that went far over the left-field foul pole. As he rounded the bases thinking it was a homer, not a single umpire had waved their arms indicating if the ball was foul or fair. The Dodgers challenged the call and the umpires just needed 33 seconds to rule it foul.
Piscotty had to step back in the box and grounded out to end the inning. In his next at bat in the seventh he hit a two-out double off the wall in center but was left stranded. The A’s just can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to the long ball in their first six games. If some of their balls were hit at a different stadium, they would have been homers.
Melvin didn’t get any confirmation on the play but said the first base umpire told him it was 15 feet foul. How they determined that in 33 seconds seems quite amazing. Piscotty explained what happened:
“When I hit it, I thought there was a chance it stayed fair so I put my head down and ran. As I came around first, I was looking for a sign or a signal of some sort and there just wasn’t anything. I swear, I saw the third base umpire point fair so I just kept going. When I got in the dugout that’s when I saw them start to reconvene and that’s never a good sign and that’s the call that they made.”
Blake Treinen relieved Kershaw and took the mound in the eighth and faced his former team. Treinen walked Tony Kemp who stole second but escaped the inning using 15 pitches. Mark Canha had reached base safely in all five games prior to Tuesday nights game but ended his 4-game hit streak when he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts on Tuesday. Lowrie and Laureano both had two-hit games (double, single), combining for four of the team’s five total hits.
Of Oakland’s early struggles, Bassitt explained:
“We have all had conversations. Again it’s more so, it’s six games into a six month season. It sucks to start this way but we know how good we are. I think it’s more so just embarrassing. It’s not so much a panic long term its just embarrassing right now.”
Laureano led off the ninth with a single and tried to make it a double but halfway to second decided to head back to first and slid head first into first, which is how he injured himself on Friday. Treinen was relieved by Kenley Jansen (S) after Treinen gave up his first hit of the night to Laureano, who stole second and landed on third when Murphy flew out to the right-field warning track for the second out. Piscotty walked to put runners on the corners and Moreland blooped out to shallow center to end the game.
Piscotty backed up Bassitt when it came to the team not panicking:
“It is still optimistic. I don’t think there is any panic. I think this group is full of veteran guys, it’s a 162-game season so it’s not fun, we are not happy about it. But I think this group looks at it through the right lens and has some perspective on 162 so we need to improve. We need to do it sooner rather than later but there is no panic.”
Jordan Weems made his 2021 debut in the ninth after being placed on 26-man roster prior to the game along with INF/OF Seth Brown. Weems was able to strikeout the first batter he faced but Betts worked an 0-2 count to a full-count and after multiple foul balls, he saw one he liked and launched it to left for a solo homer to make it 5-1. Weeks allowed one hit, unfortunately it was a homer.
Melvin can only do so much as a manager, especially dealing with so many injuries so early into the season from key everyday players:
“We could do something a little different tomorrow. Obviously with the injuries, we have some, Brownies here, he may get a start tomorrow but we only have so many guys and typically the guys on the bench have been injured recently, you know we aren’t going to have a huge workout for Murphy so he is prob off tomorrow so there is only so much you can do.”
The Oakland A’s are 22-15 against the Dodgers historically in regular season play, which is the best record by any team against the Los Angeles Dodgers… The A’s still look for their first win of 2021 and the Dodgers looking for a sweep. … The A’s have been outscored 50-13 and have the worst ERA (8.00) in the majors. The team has the lowest batting average in the American League (.169). … The 1916 Philadelphia Athletics — the last A’s team to begin a season 0-6 – finished 36-117, the worst record in post-1900 baseball.