The A’s wasted another stellar pitching performance on Saturday afternoon, falling to the Cleveland Guardians 3-1 on a sunny but windy day at the Coliseum.
The pitching was there today, with starter Cole Irvin throwing six shutout frames, but the offense more or less disappeared again and the defense in the 9th cost Oakland two runs and a chance for extras. So Oakland loses the series to a team that had lost 7 straight before facing the A’s. Slightly dejecting, but at least they were in it until the end in both games.
It was a pitching duel at the coliseum today, with Irvin facing off against Cleveland ace Shane Bieber, and both brought their A game. matching zeros for the few innings.
The first real threat of scoring came when Cleveland put two on in the second thanks to a leadoff walk and single. Irvin got a nice 6-4-3 double play to extinguish that, though, with a replay review overturning a safe call at first.
Both teams loaded the bases with out out in the third, and neither could score, as Irvin got a couple weak flyball outs to Cristian Pache while Bieber struck out Billy McKinney and got a Seth Brown groundout to end Oakland’s first rally of the day.
A team finally scored the next inning, it just wasn’t the A’s. A 1-out double brought up Andres Gimenez, the same guy who hit the grand slam in last night’s loss. He stung Oakland once again, sending a grounder up the middle to bring in the runner from second and give the Guardians a lead.
And with the way the bats have been performing, and with the 2020 Cy Young award winner on the mound and throwing well, it was beginning to feel like that might be enough to doom the A’s chances of a win today.
Enter Sheldon Neuse:
A torrid start to the year from Neuse. You have to wonder where the offense would be if he wasn’t around. That fifth inning blast tied things up and got Irvin off the hook for a potential L on his stat sheet. And it seemed to fire him up, as he struck out the side in the sixth to end his day with a flourish.
- Cole Irvin: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 90 pitches
Irvin is on a tear right now himself, yielding just a pair of runs in his last 3 starts (16 IP). Again, an A’s starting pitcher gets himself in trouble, doesn’t get flustered and finds a way to get out of it. It’s been a theme in the early going with the starters.
Unfortunately another recent theme for Oakland has been a missing offense. The A’s got just three more hits after the Neuse home run. Kevin Smith (2-3 in his first start back) had a single that was immediately wiped out on a double play, and Nick Allen had a 2-out single and steal (the first of his career!) in the 7th that Tony Kemp couldn’t bring in.
Two relievers teamed up for the eighth and ninth innings, with Zach Jackson throwing the 7th and getting two out in the 8th before Kirby Snead came on to get Steven Kwan. He gave up a single instead, but got the hot-hitting Jose Ramirez to weakly ground out.
Then the ninth happened. Presumptive closer Dany Jimenez, unscored upon coming into the game, allowed a leadoff single. With one out and a runner at first, Jimenez got the double play ball he wanted, but Allen, at second today, couldn’t field the ball cleanly for an error to put two runners on. Jimenez almost escaped the jam, but a 2-out pinch-hit double that would have taken a Pache web gem to catch brought both runners in and gave the Guardians a 2-run lead in the ninth.
The A’s at least made it interesting at the end, getting their third hit since the Neuse bomb, a 2-out Elvis Andrus double over the right fielder’s head. With Pache up and representing the tying run, he sent a groundball to short that he almost beat out for an infield single but was just late, ending the game, securing the series loss, and sending Oakland into May with a losing record.
It’s no fun to lose to anyone, but with Cleveland having lost 7 straight coming into Oakland, the feeling was the A’s were catching them at the perfect time and could get at least a couple wins from this series. It hardly ever works out that way in baseball, though. Now we have to hope they can scratch out at least one win.
The good news is that Oakland gets some reinforcements back tomorrow afternoon in the form of James Kaprielian. The initial prognosis was roughly a month, and it turns out that was exactly the case. The right-hander will be making his season debut with the A’s desperate to salvage a game from this series. See you all in May!
To cheer you up heading into your Saturday evening, we at Athletics Nation present you with this gem: