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Game #43: Another quiet loss

4-1 to the Angels, and the A’s one run was aided by the sun

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Angels Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

One run on four hits.

The Oakland A’s took another quiet loss on Sunday, this time 4-1 to the Angels in Anaheim, and even their one run came thanks to some help from the sun.

*** Click here to revisit today’s Game Thread! ***

The A’s got a decent pitching effort from starter Cole Irvin, who was activated from the injured list this morning after missing a few weeks. The left-hander went six innings and kept the team in the game, navigating through trouble several times but never letting any rally escalate too far.

  • Irvin: 6 ip, 3 runs (2 earned), 4 Ks, 2 BB, 1 HR, 8 hits, 90 pitches

That’s a perfectly average line, despite allowing more than his share of hard contact. Shohei Ohtani got him for a solo homer in the 1st, and Irvin exacerbated a rally in the 2nd with his own throwing error but wriggled out with just one run across thanks to some defensive help from his teammates. The Halos picked up one more run in the 5th.

Unfortunately, Oakland’s lineup couldn’t keep pace. They didn’t reach base until the 4th inning, on an error. They didn’t get a hit until the 5th, but it was a single and was immediately eliminated in a double play. They didn’t reach scoring position until the 8th, when Kevin Smith hit a fly ball that the right fielder lost in the sun. It should have been a routine out but instead it landed for a “double.”

Smith moved up to third on a groundout, and then Cristian Pache singled to drive him home. A run! The next batter drew a walk, and suddenly they had something going with the tying run coming to the plate.

Then the next five A’s batters struck out and the game was over. Womp womp.

Defense!

Today’s bright side was the defense.

Irvin got himself into some trouble in the 2nd inning. It began with a leadoff single, and the next batter bunted to move him over, but Irvin bobbled the ball and everybody was safe. I promise this section is going to be about good defense, bear with me here.

Another single loaded the bases with nobody out, bringing Ohtani up to bat. Yikes. The reigning MVP drilled a liner to right field, which could have been trouble but fortunately wasn’t. The ball went directly at right fielder Chad Pinder, who caught it and unleashed a perfect throw to second base to nab the runner bluffing off the bag.

Double play! And the lead runner at third held up, so nobody scored! Great throw by Pinder, nice tag by shortstop Elvis Andrus, and a TOOTBLAN for the Angels runner, all of which helped bail Irvin out of an early jam. The Halos did manage to score a run later in the inning, on a 55 mph groundball single by Mike Trout, but all things considered that’s not the worst possible result of the whole sequence.

Irvin got some more help in the 3rd inning. Former Athletic Kurt Suzuki hit a blast to left-center, with a projected distance of 397 feet, and it might have scraped over the wall for a dinger. But we’ll never know, because Pache ranged back and leaped up to catch it.

Maybe he robbed a two-run homer, or maybe he robbed an RBI double, but either way it was a heck of a grab by the 80-grade fielder.

In the 4th inning the infield joined the party. Ohtani hit another one on the screws for a 98 mph liner, but catcher-turned-first-baseman Christian Bethancourt laid out to snare it for a loud out. Not only was it an impressive play, but it ended the inning with Trout on deck instead of bringing him to bat with a runner on base.

All of that defense helped keep Oakland in the game until the end, and gave Irvin the boost he needed to deliver a quality start on a day when the Halos were crushing the ball against him.

Positive takeaways

We knew the A’s would probably lose a lot of games this year, so it’s disappointing but not unexpected. And the lineup has been struggling for a while, so that’s nothing new. But the pitching stayed competitive, with a starter coming off the IL to post six solid innings, and the defense had some awesome moments. That’s something to build on.