Apparently games are hard to win when you start 4 players mired in bad slumps. And so it went for the A's tonight, who managed just 3 hits and no walks in meekly falling to the hated Angels in Anaheim.
Josh Donaldson is now 4-34 on this road trip (0-4 tonight, with 3 throwing errors). Jed Lowrie (0-3 tonight) is 23-119 (.193) over May and June. Alberto Callaspo is 18-101 (.178) in the same time frame (0-3 tonight, of course). And Eric Sogard is now at .195 for the season (sub-.270 OBP) and generally turns in an o-fer more often than not. Angels' starter Garrett Richards was dominant but inefficient through four innings with 75 pitches. Richards took 15 pitches over the next two and left after seven. It was that kind of night.
The cherry on top of the turd sundae was Ernesto Frieri, pre-game trash talker, getting the save in dominant fashion by striking out the side.
If you want a play-by-play recap, check another site. I can't bring myself to go blow-by-blow on the boredom and ineptitude of this game. But I will bring you some sweeping observations:
You know it's bad when the A's don't even draw a walk the entire game. The A's lead the league in walks. They also (not so coincidentally) lead in runs scored this morning. No walks, just one run.
Yoenis Cespedes and Stephen Vogt combined for the lone A's run in the second inning. Cespedes knocked a one-out double down the line. Stephen Vogt had a soft blooper that fell in for a hit and brought him home with 2 outs. And thus went the offensive highlight for your Oakland Athletics.
The bottom of the 5th was a crazy, weird inning. Hank Conger bunted for a base hit and advanced to second on an errant throw by Donaldson. With one out, Mike Trout hit a home run which was called back on fan interference. Trout was well on his way to third base and would have easily reached there, but the umpires in New York placed him at second. During the challenge, Curt Young was barred from talking to Jesse Chavez (what is the point of that). When the home run was reversed, Mike Scioscia was incensed at the placement of the runners and got ejected arguing with the umps who did not make the call. Albert Pujols reached on another throwing error by Donaldson (although a competent 1B would have gotten that one; Callaspo couldn't). Josh Hamilton grounded out, which would have scored Trout had he been on third base, but instead was harmless. Chavez escaped without further damaged. But wow, that frame had everything - an ejection, fan interference, home run called back, two throwing errors, a bunt single, and just one run at the end. Weird.
Other than Donaldson's horrific day (assist to not-a-1B-and-why-are-you-playing-him-there-with-2-1Bs-on-the-roster Callaspo) the A's defense was actually decent. Mike Trout was completely blistering balls all over the field, but thanks to good defense by Coco and Cespedes and an assist from a fan interference, he was only credited with a double and sacrifice fly. Brandon Moss nailed Erick Aybar trying to go from first to third on a beautiful throw. Apparently Moss has an arm. At this point the A's have 17 outfield assists (a league-leading seven for Cespedes).
Jesse Chavez only allowed two earned runs, but he was flirting with danger all night. The Angels seemed to be victimizing him on his curveball, and he let a few pitches get away from him to hit a couple batters and miss badly. Considering the curveball is probably his weakest pitch, maybe Stephen Vogt wasn't familiar enough with the repertoire by calling the curve in strange situations. That's to be expected and hopefully Vogt will improve his rapport with the A's staff as he gets more games under his belt with the current rotation. Chavez, Pomeranz, and Kazmir were not in the rotation last year so I don't expect Vogt to be up to speed yet.
Another bright spot was Jim Johnson, who came up huge with two on, two out in the 7th inning to strike out David Freese and keep the score at 3-1. With the A's within striking distance and the Angels pen coming up, Johnson actually preserved hope for the comeback. That's right, Johnson gave us hope instead of taking it away. If we can get him right that would be nice.
Overall, the A's were victimized by 1) Mike Trout and Garrett Richards, who dialed it up to 97, had his offspeed pitches working, and was the beneficiary of the low strike (called for both teams at least) 2) Donaldson's "defense" and 3) The general infield hitting funk.
I can forgive them for not solving Richards, especially after their plane was stuck on the tarmac and it apparently took over seven hours just for their cross-country flight.
Oakland's division lead is now down to 3.5 games. It would be great to get a win tomorrow and ensure it does not get closer than that. I optimistically expect the A's slumping bats to bounce back tomorrow and resume this season's ownage of the Halos against injury fill-in starter Hector Santiago.