The A’s couldn’t bounce back from an ugly third inning where nothing seemed to go their way as their 8-4 loss to the Orioles Saturday afternoon secured a series loss.
Jesús Luzardo (L, 1-3, 5.79 ERA) allowed six runs but only three were earned, and he couldn’t tip his cap to many when it came to defense.
The A’s (16-12) have struggled since the Orioles (13-14) snapped Oakland’s 13-game win streak last Sunday in Baltimore. They have lost five of their last seven and have scuffed at the plate while continuing to strand too many baserunners. Without the three unearned runs in the third, this game could have been 5-3 and a whole lot closer of a ballgame.
Luzardo struggled with his command early and it only got worse as the game went along, and the A’s defense did not have his back. The third inning was absolutely brutal as a series of defensive bumbles made the A’s looked like a bunch of little leaguers.
Bob Melvin would agree his command was an issue early on but also noted that the team’s defense was also a big issue:
“It didn’t look like he had his best command from the very beginning. He threw some balls a little bit in the dirt, he spiked a couple early on, it just didn’t look like he had his best command from the very beginning. He got through the first couple innings and then the third got away from him. We didn’t help him with the defense we played.”
Seth Brown made an error to lead off Luzardo’s inning before Ramón Urías singled to put runners on the corners. Mullins walked to load the bases and the A’s had yet to record an out. Austin Hays singled to center and Matt Chapman cut off the throw home trying to get a runner out at third but overthrew the ball into the A’s bullpen. Before you knew it, it was 3-0, and it only got worse.
Chapman’s throwing error snapped his 22-game errorless streak that had led the majors for third basemen. Trey Mancini popped up to shallow center and the ball dropped near Elvis Andrus to make it 4-0. Andrus has made similar plays before but Melvin said with the wind, sun and it already being an over the shoulder hard catch, it wasn’t an issue. The A’s still had no outs when Maikel Franco singled to put runners on first and second. Not even a mound visit from Scott Emerson could change the flow of the third inning.
Melvin pulled Luzardo after just three innings and 64 pitches:
“The pitches piled up that inning. We don’t want to use that much of our bullpen in the middle of the stretch but we had to and got through it ok… You don’t wanna give up six runs in an inning and he didn’t feel good about that, it was more about his command today than anything else.”
Luzardo’s first wild pitch of the six-run inning advanced the runners to second and third during Pedro Severino’s at-bat, who popped out to backup catcher Aramis Garcia for the first out. Mark Canha made a beautiful catch at the right-field tracks for the second out before the fifth Orioles run scored on the sac fly from Ryan Mountcastle. Luzardo uncorked another wild pitch to bring in the sixth and final run of the inning before Freddy Galvis popped out to end the hideous ordeal.
Luzardo didn’t think his command was the issue when he first addressed the media; but after answering the question he seemed to realized was. He could have spoken up about the ragged defense but the mature youngster only pointed the finger at himself:
“Walks, I walked Mullins in that third and it kinda just snowballed me after that… I feel like just giving guys free bases is not what you want, wild pitches, not what you want. You know move guys over, could have got a ground ball double-play. Basically command, that is what it all comes down too. I know I said at the beginning that I don’t think it was command but now that I have reflected on it, I think it was all command.”
Luzardo lasted just three innings where he threw 64 pitches. He was only able to strike out one batter — Franco — and walked Mullins twice for his two walks allowed. Luzardo faced the Orioles in Baltimore just a week ago but said he doesn’t think that had anything to do with what took place in Oakland on Saturday:
“To be honest with you, I don’t. I think I beat myself today. I mean I have to give them credit, they put the bat on the ball, they found some holes but at the end of the day I feel like I put myself in a position to lose for the most part.”
Meanwhile, the A’s could manage just four hits off Matt Harvey. Canha was left stranded in the first, along with Ramón Laureano, who drew a full-count walk. Canha walked in the third and was again left stranded. Chapman walked on a full count in the fourth and was also left on base.
Deolis Guerra started the fourth inning for Oakland on the mound down 6-0 and threw their first perfect inning of the game and kept the O’s scoreless until he was relieved by J.B. Wendelken. Wendelken gave up a two-run homer to Stewart to make it 8-0. Wendelken gave up two runs off three hits and two of those hits were towards Jed Lowrie who made no attempt whatsoever to dive or jump for either single.
Melvin spoke with Lowrie in the dugout after that inning but when asked by the media on the reason there was no attempt to get either ball hit in his direction Melvin simply responded:
“Yeah they are just hard hit balls that got through.”
A two-run homer from D.J Stewart could have possibly been a solo shot, but the world will never know because Lowrie didn’t even try to jump or dive on either play. The A’s lost by four runs and three were unearned and had the homer been a solo, it could have been tied in the ninth. Just little things that don’t matter but could.
In the bottom of the sixth the A’s finally made some contact and their two-out rally put an end to Harvey’s lights-out game. Chapman singled then Brown hit an RBI double to the right field corner to give the A’s their first run and an 8-1 deficit. Harvey (W, 3-1, 4.06 ERA) was relieved after his 90th pitch of the game after allowing two runs off four hits in 5-2/3 innings.
Cole Sulser relieved Harvey and gave up back-to-back singles to Tony Kemp — scoring Brown to make it 8-2 — and Andrus who beat the shift. Garcia struck out to end the inning, leaving runners on first and second.
Canha continued the A’s scoring in the seventh when he led off with a solo homer(4) to left to make it 8-3. Dillon Tate shut down any hope the A’s could have built up headed into the ninth. He forced a groundout to Canha, and quickly quieted the Coliseum when Lowrie struck out swinging on four pitches. But Laureano brought some excitement when he swung at the first pitch he saw — Tate’s 22nd pitch of the day — and completely demolished it to left center for a solo home run (4) that made it 8-4. Moreland flew out to center to end the ball game.
LHP Sean Manaea (1-2, 5.40 ERA) will take the mound Sunday against the Orioles to try to avoid a series sweep. He allowed three O’s runs in his first career start against Baltimore and will battle fellow lefty Bruce Zimmermann (1-3, 5.33 ERA). A’s are looking to avoid a sweep.
Matt Olson is day-to-day with his black eye but took some swings in the cage and fielded some grounders prior to the game on Saturday. … A.J. Puk threw in the bullpen Saturday and will be assessed Sunday on how he feels. … Burch Smith is going to throw two innings during tomorrow’s simulation game in Stockton. … Mitch Moreland hit his third homer of the season Friday night and has hit all three in Oakland. … Stephen Piscotty pinch hit for Seth Brown in the eighth and is currently on an 0-for-7 streak. Piscotty is 4-for-26 this season with six strikeouts.