San Francisco Chronicle - (Sunday)
Errors, control costly in ugly sixrun inning
When the A’s were rolling, their lineup production was topheavy. A few bats propelled them. Impact from others was welcome but less frequent. It equated to enough scoring for two weeks of winning.
It was a shaky formula. With some key hitters cooling the past week, counterbalance has been lacking. The result: an offensive lull that continued Saturday until the later innings of an 84 loss to the Orioles, when one ugly inning for the A’s was enough to undo them at the Coliseum.
The A’s have lost five of seven since a 13game win streak.
They hit .185 with 15 runs scored in those seven games. Orioles righthander Matt Harvey held them scoreless until the sixth inning Saturday. Two of their runs came on solo homers. They put 11 other men on base and left nine.
“They call it midseason form for a reason, and nobody is in midseason form yet,” outfielder and leadoff hitter Mark Canha said. “Maybe (Matt) Olson you could argue was our best bat, he’s not in there which is unfortunate. I feel like there’s a lot of things I can do better — I’ve been kind of scuffling the last week.
“When I’m going really well, I feel like the offense gets going
really well, and I’ve really been grinding the last week. So, yeah, I would agree (that) when our top of the lineup is good, we’re a really good team, and plan on taking that upon myself and kind of spark plug the team here and hopefully we can get it going.”
Olson, who has missed three games since a ball struck his eye in the batting cage, anchored the top of the order during the winning streak. Canha compiled a .464 onbase percentage in that stretch, scoring 17 runs. Jed Lowrieposted a .968 OPS with 15 RBIs. Olson batted .409 with 16 RBIs. Ramón Laureano often filled out the top four.
Yet, the same several hitters cannot always carry a lineup. In six games before Saturday, Canha was 3for22. Lowrie was 1for19. Other regulars’ slow starts continued. Matt Chapman had a promising series at Tampa Bay, yet finished April hitting .189. Laureano batted .223 in the first month. Elvis Andrus’ .393 OPS as of Saturday was the lowest among qualified AL hitters. Sean Murphy was 6for18 with three home runs the last week but not in the lineup Saturday after catching the previous two games.
“We have some guys that are struggling; we’ve been able to maneuver around it and win some games,” manager Bob Melvin said. “We still feel like these guys are going to catch life at some point in time. Nowadays it seems like the averages are down across the board. Last year we saw it, too. You’re seeing a lot of teams with some (averages in the .100s) up there. We’ve just got to stay at it and try to get a little bit more consistent up and down our line
“We’ve just got to stay at it and try to get a little bit more consistent up and down our lineup.” Bob Melvin, A’s manager
up, because we’re going to need that.”
Harvey allowed just two singles until the sixth inning, when Chapman singled and Seth Brown lined an RBI double. Brown scored when No. 7 hitter Tony Kemp singled. Canha and Laureano homered in later innings. It was a more diverse effort but too little Saturday.
Jesús Luzardo endured a sixrun third inning. Brown fumbled a routine grounder at first base to start it. Luzardo allowed a single and a walk to load the bases. Austin Hays pulled a single to left field to score two runs; a third scored when Chapman cut off Kemp’s throw home and made an errant throw to third. Hays scored when Trey Mancini hit a flare to center that eluded Andrus’ attempt at an overtheshoulder catch.
Luzardo threw 23 pitches in the third before recording an out thanks to Pedro Severino popping out on a 30 pitch with men on second and third. Canha ran down Ryan Mountcastle’s drive to right for a sacrifice fly that kept one of the runners on base; he scored anyway on Luzardo’s second wild pitch of the inning. Luzardo retired Freddy Galvis on a flyout on his 35th pitch of the inning — his 64th of the game — and he did not return for the fourth.
“I fell behind, obviously,” Luzardo said. “Getting ahead is big, and it has been big the last two starts for me . ... Command was not there at all.”