The Oakland A’s (0-6) are looking for their first win of the season in the final game of their three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers (5-1) on Wednesday.
LHP Jesùs Luzardo (0-2, 9.00 ERA) will get his second start of the season along with 2020 NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer (1-0, 5.68 ERA). The A’s are coming off their best game of the season, despite it being a 5-1 loss where the starter kept his team in the game and the bullpen followed. But once again, the A’s couldn’t add run support after they earned their first lead of the season in the bottom of their 46th inning at the plate up 1-0.
The A’s became the first Oakland Athletics team in history to start a season 0-6. The Philadelphia Athletics started their 1916 season 0-6 but won their seventh game. The defending American League West Champions never trailed by more than one game in the AL West last year. They faced two 2020 playoff teams in their first ten games in ten days and are already six games back and counting to start the season.
Wednesday completes their 7-game homestand and if they don’t get a win with Luzardo on the mound, they will be the first team in Oakland history to go 0-7 in a homestand. An A’s team hasn’t lost seven straight in Oakland since 2006, and last year, they never lost more than two straight at home. A postseason team with 17 returning players on the 2021 Opening Day roster has struggled early at home after having the second best home-winning percentage in the history of Oakland.
Luzardo threw five full innings in his first start against the Houston Astros. He allowed five earned runs off eight hits in his 98 total pitches. Bauer lasted 6 1/3 innings and allowed four earned runs off three hits. Both starters gave up a pair of homers but the difference between the Dodgers and the A’s right now is the Dodgers bats are flowing and the A’s are still trying to shake off some cobwebs.
J.B. Wendelken has been magnificent in the bullpen in all four of the games he appeared in. He is the only reliever with a 0.00 ERA aside from position player Ka’ai Tom who saw the mound before getting his first big league hit in a scoreless ninth inning, and A.J Puk, who made his 2021 debut on Monday, the day he was called up prior to the game and threw 3 scoreless innings after Frankie Montas lasted 2 2/3 innings.
Wendelken said the vibe in the clubhouse is still good and believes there hasn’t been one quiet person in the first week:
“Everyone is trying to pick up everybody. It’s crazy, I can’t single out one single person. As always, Chapman’s loud, Sergio [Romo] is loud. We are all trying to do something to pick one another up. It’s just one of those things, we are having a rough start so it seems like you get down on yourselves but really and truly, we are fighting back as much as we can. It’s just going to take one move and we’re going to be alright.”
The A’s bullpen had been the talk of the league last season. This season too, but for the wrong reasons. The A’s bullpen has the worst ERA in the majors at a whopping 8.00 in the first week of games. The 27 walks have been a pitchers biggest nightmare so far, the most in the American League. Wendelken may no have allowed a single hit or run but he has allowed four walks, even though he has matched that number in strikeouts.
Wendelken said his goal right now is to focus on throwing strikes, over he plate and letting batters get themselves out. He spoke about the A’s bullpen:
“Our pen is really good. The way we’ve been playing lately as a team does not affect how good this team really is. We are one of the better teams out there, guaranteed. Our bullpen is really good. I think it’s just early in the season. Shaking some cobwebs, getting some things worked in. We will bounce back no questions asked.”
Trevor Rosenthal, A’s highly anticipated new closer, is in Dallas debating surgery on his pitching arm. Melvin said the decision is up to him but he could be out for 12 weeks if he chooses to do so. The A’s are lacking a closer, even if they hadn’t needed to use one in a game yet.
Wendelken said any pitcher in the bullpen wants to be a closer, that is the end goal. He explained the Rosenthal situation and how it may or may not affect the bullpen:
“It is always sad to see one of your fellow men fall down, get beat up. It’s one of those things where injuries are almost inevitable in this sport. It’s how we work around it and how we proceed to go through moving forward… we are praying for Trevor [Rosenthal] and everything. Hope everything goes well and what not but it does hurt to have a peg taken out of you and your legs. But our bullpen is really good. I think we will still be more than fine.”
The A’s are getting ready to start game seven of their seven-game homestand. First pitch set is for 12:37 p.m., the A’s last home game before they go on the road for their first 5-game road trip of 2021. They play three games in Houston and two against the Arizona Diamondbacks.