The A’s had two leads and fought to the end, but on the second straight night a late bullpen implosion cost the A’s even a chance of a win, falling 8-4 to the Cleveland Guardians on Wednesday night.
The losing streak is now nine games after losing the series opener and is now in their longest losing streak of the year. It’s the first time they’ve had two losing streaks of nine games or more since 1978. Not good.
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Both teams had a sleepy first inning, with both James Kaprielian and Konnor Pilkington throwing a shutout frame to get this game going.
The real fireworks started in the second. To Sean Murphy dissipated from being struck by bad luck, Christian Bethancourt came and hit the third pitch he saw from Pilkington:
That Oppo Taco was the A’s first home run in five games and Bethancourt’s second of the year. The next batter went and was picked up, which hurt as the A’s then loaded bases, which would have earned another run. Oakland’s Hottest Hitter, Ramon Laureanocame up and dove into right field, ending a chance to blast this game wide open.
Pilkington settled down for the next few innings, knocking out 9 of the next 10 batters and getting a double play against the one runner who got in.
It looked like Kaprieelian wouldn’t have a shutdown inning after serving a leadoff double near the bottom of the frame, but he belted back with a groundout, strikeout, and another groundout to prevent the runner from to advance at all. He retired the team in order at the end of the third for six straight outs.
That streak quickly ended when Cleveland Stud Jose Ramirez took the first pitch in the fourth and ripped it for a solo shot to put the Guardians on the board. First Base Player Josh Naylor Follow with his own bomb, do it back to back and tie this game.
It went a couple of innings, but the A’s took the lead in the sixth. With two outs, Bethancourt hit the ball hard again, this time for a single. short stop Elvis Andres followed him with a double to put two runners in goal position. With MattDavidson up, who went 0 to 2 with a strikeout today, Mark Kotsay turned to the bank and called Seth Brown for the left-right advantage:
That two-run double put the A’s back in front and also put Kaprieelian in line for the win after ending his day with a 1-2-3 fifth inning.
With the lead and about to go through the lineup for a third time, Kotsay went to AJ Puk first out of the bullpen.
- James Kaprielian: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 75 pitches
Even if the line-up were about to turn around again, it still felt like a particularly early hook for the right-hander today. With just 75 pitches, a throw as good as last, and having only allowed two runs, you’d think Kotsay would want to get him as deep into this game as possible, as the bullpen struggled mightily throughout this stretch. Not tonight as he would not allow Kap to see the line-up a third time.
So Puk came in sixth, allowing his single and stolen base to put a guardian in scoring position, and a two-out single propelled him in goal and halved Oakland’s lead.
The A’s were stabbed again in the seventh after that in a two-out hit Zach Jackson walked his first batter, allowing a single to get the tie and go-ahead runs on base. Again Kotsay turned to the bullpen and asked to the left Sam Moll to get left handed StevenKwan. It didn’t work out as Moll gave up just his fourth hit to a left-hander all year, this time a game-changing RBI single. He ended the inning by throwing four straight sliders to Naylor for a strikeout, but the damage was done.
It felt like deja vu, but Bethancourt came back with two outs and landed a hit, this time a double in the top of the eight. A wild pitch put him in third place and Oakland was just 90 feet from retaking the lead, but an Andrus grounder for third baseman ended the threat.
With the game tied 4-4 in game eight, Kotsay looked into the bullpen and selected Lou Trivino, holder of a 6.91 ERA transitioning to today. Four singles and a doubles later, Oakland was down 8-4 and increased his ERA to 9.20 after being drawn with just one out. He thrives in lower leverage situations but the last two appearances have been close games and he’s allowed them both to get away. When will he be transferred exclusively to the clean-up service?
Faced with a disheartening 4-run deficit, the A’s tried to bounce back thanks to a two-out pinch hit Luis Barrera single and Tony Kemp double, bring Laureano to the plate and run the tying on deck. Unfortunately, a flyout to right field ended his 11-game hit streak and the game.
Oakland continues to fall away from the rest of the field, now seven games behind fourth-place Rangers and 17 from the top. The energy this club showed in the first month has completely evaporated and the team is struggling to get a cog moving at the same time. This has always been a development year for the younger players but the team don’t play most of them, opting to trot out lads who won’t be at the next winning club like Lowrie, Andrus, Bethancourt and MattDavidson. Why is a young player like Barrera that? could Aside from that future club on the bench against a right-handed starter?
Anyway, they’re going to try to break that losing streak again tomorrow and they’ll have one of their best pitchers going in Paul Blackburn. He has struggled in his last two starts but has otherwise had an All-Star-worthy season. He will resist Triston McKenzie, who is having a great year himself. Same time, same place.