The Oakland A’s lineup has been mired in a terrible slump on this homestand, and it continued on Wednesday against the Rays. The green and gold managed only one hit in the entire game, and in the meantime they got a dud outing from starter Sean Manaea and four errors from their defense. When the evening mercifully came to an end, the A’s had dropped an all-around stinker by the score of 6-0.
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Entering Wednesday, Oakland had scored only 15 total runs in the first eight games of this homestand. That included only five homers, a .168 batting average. and a .491 OPS. Even with that low bar, though, they managed to put up their worst performance yet in this one. It was so bad that they couldn’t even score off of literally Wilmer Font, who threw two scoreless frames in relief and retired six of the seven batters he faced. He now has an 11.37 ERA on the year.
The A’s did at least come up with one hit against Font, a groundball single by Jed Lowrie in the 7th. That was their only hit for the entire night. They also got walks from Matt Chapman in the 1st and Chad Pinder in the 9th, but at no point did they even put a runner in scoring position. And that’s the entire story of Oakland’s offense in this game. Nathan Eovaldi threw six hitless innings in his first MLB appearance since 2016, after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery, and Vidal Nuno wrapped things up in the 9th. The whole thing was downright embarrassing.
The other side of the ball might have been even worse. Sean Manaea was shaky from the get-go, and even though his defense did him no favors he still wasn’t on his game. He gave up some hard contact, issued a walk, hit two batters, and needed 95 pitches to get through five innings.
The first batter of the game reached on an error by ... Matt Chapman? If there was ever a sign that it’s not your day, that’s probably it. A couple pitches later, Jonathan Lucroy clanked one to let the runner advance. Then Manaea walked that batter anyway. Tampa Bay didn’t end up scoring in that inning, but it gives you an idea of how the game went.
The Rays did push across a run in the 2nd. Carlos Gomez placed a fly perfectly into the right field corner, and with the help of some funky bounces that (justifiably) ate up Mark Canha he ended up with a triple. An actual baseball player named Johnny Field then doubled into the other corner, pasta diving Matt Joyce, for an RBI double.
The dagger came in the 3rd. A HBP and a groundball single set the scene, and then Rob Refsnyder launched a mistake fastball over the right-center wall for a homer. Honestly, on this unusually gusty night, it’s possible the wind (which was howling out to right-center) aided it enough to make the difference. On the broadcast, Dallas Braden was sure that it would have stayed in the park on a normal evening in the Coliseum. C’est la vie! I still wouldn’t say that Manaea was better than his final line suggested, but this particular play may have included some bad luck.
Manaea ended up throwing 35 pitches in that disastrous inning, but he settled down after that and at least made it through the 5th. His final line: 5 ip, 4 runs, 3 Ks, 1 BB, 1 HR. He has a 7.18 ERA in six May starts.
When Oakland went to the bullpen, we got our first look at new reliever Carlos Ramirez. He got the same rude welcome that Manaea had received at the beginning of his outing. The leadoff batter reached on an error (this time by Pinder), and Lucroy immediately let him advance — on a correctly timed pitchout with the runner going, Lucroy threw the ball into center field to send him to third.
Ramirez made it through his two innings unscathed, but it was a journey getting there. Later in the 6th he hit a batter, the third of the day by A’s pitching, and he only escaped thanks to a perfectly placed GIDP ball. The 7th opened with a single and a walk, but this time Chapman got him out of it with two nice plays — one of his vintage 5-3 GIDPs on another perfectly placed grounder, and then a great throw charging in on a soft doinker. Ramirez himself was a bit wild and didn’t miss many bats, but he at least induced some weak contact with his sinker.
Even Danny Coulombe had a rough night. He’d been lights out so far in May, striking out over half his batters and posting a FIP of 0.24 in nine outings, but he quickly allowed a solo homer to Field. Next came a seeing-eye single, then two wild pitches to move the runner to third, and finally a single-turned-hustle-double to drive him in. Chris Hatcher made it through a scoreless 9th without, I dunno, a catcher’s interference and three straight balks? That’s the kind of night this was.
There’s not much to take from this game. The offense is in a full-on, team-wide slump, but Khris Davis is expected to return on Thursday so hopefully that will help. Pinder, with two errors on routine plays, looked exactly like a bat-first shortstop who has played mostly outfield this year; it’s nice that he can back up the infield in an emergency, but he’s clearly found his true home in LF/RF where he’s actually a plus. Fortunately, Marcus Semien will be back on Saturday from paternity leave, so this is not a long-term problem.
Beyond that, this was a game to forget, amid a series to forget, amid a homestand to forget. There are four more months and 106 more games, and the A’s have still won as many as they’ve lost with a young core that was always going to be inconsistent. Tomorrow they get back the one guy who can most help the current offensive drought. This too shall pass. Probably.
In conclusion, here is an otter looking how we all felt watching this game.
A's did not get no-hit, but they did lose 6-0.— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) May 31, 2018
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