The hitters are still struggling, but at least the pitchers keeps rolling.
The Oakland A’s kept the Angels offense at bay but once again couldn’t score much themselves, losing 4-1 on Sunday at the Coliseum.
The lineup’s low output wasn’t for lack of opportunity. The A’s put runners in scoring position in six out of nine innings, but only once were they able to push one of them home, which wasn’t enough to support the quality start they got from their own rotation.
The tone was set immediately in the 1st inning. The third batter of the game, Shohei Ohtani, blasted a two-run homer, and in the bottom half of the frame Oakland loaded the bases but stranded them. It was an early lead for the Halos, and another frustrating missed chance for the green-and-gold.
From there, A’s starter Frankie Montas settled down and kept the Angels off the board. They only hit the ball hard against him three more times after that 1st inning, and he went on to strike out a dozen batters, even navigating around a couple defensive errors by his teammates behind him.
- Montas: 6 ip, 2 runs, 12 Ks, 1 BB, 1 HR, 4 hits, 101 pitches
Those 12 strikeouts are one short of his career-high, and he joined some impressive company in Oakland history. He only faced 24 batters in the game, so he fanned half of them.
OAKLAND A's MOST CAREER 10 STRIKEOUT GAMES— Mike Selleck (@MikeSelleck) May 15, 2022
21 Vida Blue
11 Barry Zito
9 Catfish Hunter
8* Frankie Montas
8 Dave Stewart
1️⃣0️⃣ strikeouts already for Montas pic.twitter.com/B2I7cPPO2D— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) May 15, 2022
Unfortunately the A’s had no answer at the plate. They scored once in the 3rd inning, on a walk, single, sac bunt, and RBI groundout, but overall they went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
Despite the lack of scoring, though, Oakland displayed a notable shift toward small-ball. On three occasions they used a sacrifice bunt to move up a runner, and one of those times it helped yield a run during that rally in the 3rd. It’s the first time in nine years they’ve had three in one game! They also dropped two other sac bunts in this series, once on Friday and once on Saturday.
Whatever you’re feeling might be about the value of that strategy, at least they’re trying something new to shake out of a slump. It certainly gave them ample opportunities today with runners in scoring position, even if they weren’t able to take advantage, and scratching for those individual runs might not be a bad idea when you’re losing lots of close games and not consistently scoring by other means.
But as far as this afternoon is concerned, it was just a different version of the all too familiar one-run day. The Angels tacked on a couple bits of insurance against the A’s bullpen, including the first earned run of the year allowed by Dany Jimenez (in his 14th appearance), and there was no Oakland comeback at the end.
Rebuilding is a process. Keep plugging away and trying stuff out until you see what works. Right now the lineup is still figuring itself out, but in the meantime the pitching staff is showing a lot of promise and keeping the team in the game most days.