Heading into tonight's series opener against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the A's looked poised to add another victory to the win column after coming off a three-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners on Sunday. With Sonny Gray on the mound, the odds appeared to be in Oakland's favor -- however, the A's offense couldn't capitalize at the plate when they needed to the most; and the Halos' never looked back in the sixth inning, as they tagged three runs off of Gray -- resulting in a 4-1 loss at the Coliseum.
Even though the A's managed to squeak out a 2-1 victory against Felix Hernandez and the Mariners on Sunday, I highly doubt that Oakland's offense expected a "King-esque" performance from Angels starter Nick Tropeano... through the first five innings, anyway.
Tropeano surprisingly matched Gray pitch-for-pitch, despite allowing six hits over a short period of time, the 25-year-old managed to buckle down when he needed to the most. A two-out double in the first inning by Josh Reddick was left to waste after Danny Valencia presumably groundout to third-base.
The A's offense got off to a promising start in the bottom of the second, thanks to a pair of singles from Stephen Vogt and Khris Davis. Personally, I believed that Yonder Alonso would've had a productive at-bat; whether it be a seeing-eye-single up the middle, or a deep fly ball to the warning track, the A's first-baseman worked a full-count before flailing at a 3-2 slider in the dirt, for the second out of the frame. Marcus Semien gave the A's faithful some hope when he launched a 3-1 fastball through the deep-marine layer of the Coliseum; unfortunately Semien's scorching hit -- couldn't weather the storm in the frigid night air, and quite-easily found the glove of Daniel Nava in shallow left field.
The same thing happened to the A's sluggers in the bottom of the third, and again in the fifth. The green and gold managed to get several runners in scoring position, but ultimately couldn't get that clutch hit when they needed to the most. It was as if I was watching Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, or tuning into an Oakland A's 2015 ballgame -- and for some reason, couldn't build the nerve to change the channel, even though I decisively knew what was going to happen.
After an impressive performance against the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday, Gray looked to continue this trend -- and rightfully so, held the Halos' with ease -- up until Angels third-baseman Yunel Escobar smoked a sharp liner past the diving Reddick in right-field, mere inches from being caught, while Nava blooped a single to center field to plate the first run of the contest.
Mike Trout did Mike Trout things and followed the frame with a first-pitch home run, over the left-center field wall -- before Gray could recoup from Nava's RBI single, giving the Angels a 3-0 advantage after six innings.
Oakland's relief corps' kept the Halos' off of the scoreboard until the eighth inning; after a quick single from Albert Pujols resulted in a questionable stolen base, before Andrelton Simmons pounced on a two-seamed fastball from Liam Hendriks, putting the Angels up by four.
Unlike the 2015 campaign, a 4-0 deficit heading into the bottom of the ninth presumably guaranteed a loss for the green and gold. Although, there appears to be a different vibe coming from the green and gold, whether they're trailing by a few runs, or have a commanding lead. Whether it's against the White Sox or the Mariners, the A's somehow come up clutch and win the ball game, or make it a close contest -- as demonstrated by Semien's two-out RBI single in the ninth.
It's too early to determine the identity of the 2016 Oakland Athletics, but it's safe to say that they won't give up without a fight. There's plenty of baseball left and anything can happen; so lets keep the faith and get 'em tomorrow!