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Game #25: A’s waste stellar start, lose to Rays 3-0

Losing streak is now at six

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Oakland Athletics D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland A’s lost their sixth straight game today, losing 3-0 and getting swept at home by the Tampa Bay Rays.

It was a pitching duel at the Coliseum today, with both teams pitching shutouts heading into the eighth. The A’s blinked first, surrendering three runs immediately after starter Frankie Montas departed the game. The bullpen has been a problem lately.

The offense couldn’t get much going against the Rays’ pitching staff for the second time this series, collecting just four hits and a walk while striking out nine times. Tampa Bay is fourth in the A.L. in ERA for a reason.

*** Click here for today’s Game Thread! ***

Neither team could get much going against the other for most of the day. Corey Kluber, coming off his best start of the year, kept the A’s in check for his six innings. The first hit of the game came on a 1-out standup triple by Seth Brown, but two swinging strike outs by Stephen Piscotty (0-for-3) and Chad Pinder (1-for-3) stranded him at third to end the inning.

Starting pitcher Frankie Montas breezed through his first few innings before back-to-back singles in the fourth, his first hits given up, put a runner in scoring position. A groundball nicely fielded by Kevin Smith, playing shortstop today, ended the threat and kept it tied 0-0.

Starting his third straight day at DH, Jed Lowrie (1-for-4) pulled a single into right field in the bottom half of the frame for the A’s second hit before Sean Murphy walked on a check-swing 3-2 count. Upon replay it looked like he went around, but it’s not something that teams can challenge, so that call went the A’s way. Again, with a runner in scoring position, the A’s couldn’t capitalize and bring him home thanks to a Brown strikeout and Piscotty flyout. The team has really come down to earth in the RISP department.

Trouble found Montas only one more time thanks to a leadoff double in the sixth, but Pinder, playing left field for the fourth straight game, made an amazing basket catch in deep left to prevent a Tampa Bay run. A stolen base cranked the pressure up higher and brought the infield in, but a groundball to Neuse at third sent Oakland back to the dugout with what felt like some momentum. Montas went out for the seventh and collected two more strikeouts before his day was done.

  • Frankie Montas: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K, 103 pitches

That was arguably Montas’ best start of the year, and his stuff was getting more and more filthy as he got deeper into the game. The 103 pitches are a season-high and the right-hander grinded throughout this one not having any run support. He’s not getting the loss, but with the way #FilthyFrankie was pitching today, he deserved a win. There should be a huge market at the trade deadline for the Oakland ace.

The first arm out of the bullpen today was Zach Jackson, who had been one of the A’s best relievers so far after surrendering only three runs all season. An eight inning leadoff walk, steal, and groundout put a Tampa Bay runner at third with the Rays’ best hitter, Wander Franco, up to bat. After a few foul balls, Jackson finally got a big swinging strikeout for the second out, which was hugely impressive...

...But then the wheels really fell apart, with another walk and a hit batter to load the bases for Manuel Margot. He swatted a ball the other way that landed right at the feet of Piscotty and brought in the first two runs of the game and set up runners at the corners.

Manager Mark Kotsay had seen enough, bringing in Domingo Acevedo to face the next batter. Before even throwing a single pitch, Acevedo attempted a pick-off at first, only to be called for a balk, allowing the runner at third to come in and score and making it 3-0 Rays. He finished off the inning and handled the ninth, as well, but the balk really hurt the A’s and won’t show up on the stat sheet.

As for the offense facing the Rays’ bullpen, they couldn’t get anything going to match Tampa Bay, only managing a two-out Pinder single in the seventh that extended his hit streak to 10 games. He’s played almost exclusively left field this year and looks likely to keep the job when Ramon Laureano returns on Sunday, which means players like Piscotty, Brown, and Christian Bethancourt are going to start losing playing time.

So the A’s lose the homestand, going 0-6 while at home against two tough teams. Frankie Montas was excellent today, bouncing back from a tough time in his previous outing, and Chad Pinder is tied for the second-longest current hitting streak in MLB right now. Other than that, nothing was clicking for this team today. It’s becoming a pattern, with one day the offense showing up but the pitching disappears, then it’s the other way around the next day. This team needs some consistency.

Oakland has a much-needed off day tomorrow, where hopefully they’ll be able to clear their heads and get rid of the bad juju from this homestand. They’re heading out of town for a two-city road trip, with a Friday night evening matchup at the Minnesota Twins, one of the hottest teams in baseball. Left-hander Cole Irvin had been scheduled tot pitch, but that is now in question and something to keep an eye on tonight.

Per Matt Kawahara:

“Kotsay said Cole Irvin had an MRI on his shoulder and the A’s expect results back tonight.”