By Morris Phillips
OAKLAND–It’s official: the A’s lengthiest–and potentially most promising–homestand of 2019 is a dud…at least to this point.
The season as a whole? Of course, it’s to be determined, as is this home stand. But the point of determination is fast approaching. Last season at this juncture, the A’s were two games into the best finish in Major League Baseball (63 wins in the final 92 games of the season). This season to date, the A’s are coming to grips with a series loss at home to the scuffling Mariners, capped by a 6-3 loss on Sunday.
The manner of the loss–the A’s squandered 2-0 and 3-2 leads–another reminder of the team’s inability to sustain successes within a game, or over a stretch of games. As a result, the A’s (36-36) are stuck at .500 for the 16th time this season.
Individually, Sunday’s game fell on setup man Lou Trivino’s inability to navigate the eighth inning in which the Mariners struck for four runs to overcome a one-run deficit and put the game away in one fell swoop.
Trivino failed to retire any of the five batters he faced, although the biggest blow to his stint was a fly ball off the bat of Domingo Santana that right fielder Mark Canha lost in the sun for a two-base error.
The normally staunch Canha committed his first error in his last 152 game appearances.
“It was like the ball was falling faster than I could run,” Canha explained. “It was just a brutal play. Brutal.”
“I feel like it cost us the game. It put Lou in a really tough spot and I feel horrible about it.”
That set up the Mariners with runners at second and third with one out, at which point Trivino’s command issues cropped up. Designated hitter Daniel Vogelbach, a serious threat with 17 home runs, was walked on four pitches which loaded the bases. Then Kyle Seager doubled home a pair on a 1-0 pitch to give the Mariners the lead.
“I blow the lead for what seems to be the 10th time this year,” Trivino said. “It’s frustrating and Lord willing I can fight through this and come up for us.”
Bob Melvin summoned Yusmeiro Petit at that point, and he allowed a run-scoring, sacrifice fly to Tom Murphy. Dee Gordon’s RBI triple then capped the rally.
The A’s remained a season-worst 12 games behind the division-leading Astros, who lost to Toronto. More importantly, the Rangers fell in Cincinnati, which kept the A’s within 2 1/2 games of the team currently in possession of the second wild card.
Featured pitcher Tanner Anderson pitched 5 1/3 innings in relief of opener Ryan Buchter, allowing three hits and two runs. That second, impressive outing means the minor league call up will likely get a third opportunity. Khris Davis opened the day’s scoring with a two-run homer, his 15th. But those individual highlights couldn’t trump a disastrous eighth that decided it.
The A’s hoped to take full advantage of a home stretch against last-place clubs in Seattle and Baltimore, but now must turn their attention to fleecing the Orioles starting Monday.
Mike Fiers and Baltimore’s Andrew Cashner will face off in the opener at 7:07 pm.