One Run Or Fewer: A’s offense continues to struggle in 4-1 loss at Anaheim

By Morris Phillips

Look at the A’s schedule: they haven’t seen much AL West competition thus far, and with those teams that know them best up now, the obvious conclusion is that things could get worse.

Things got worse this weekend in Anaheim. For that, the A’s can point to Patrick Sandoval and Shohei Ohtani. We’ll call them the usual suspects.

Ohtani homered–as did Mike Trout–and the Angels cruised to a 4-1 win over the A’s as Sandoval deftly managed his effective offerings to reach the eighth inning. If the score and result looks familiar, it’s because it is. Last Sunday in Oakland, Sandoval cruised, and Ohtani homered in the first inning in the A’s 4-1 loss. This first round of AL West rival action clearly goes to Anaheim, winners of five of the first seven of 19 contests between the clubs.

The toothless A’s have dropped 20 of 29 after an encouraging 8-6 start to the season. And Sunday marked the 16th time the team has scored one run or fewer (1-15 in those games). Against Sandoval, the A’s managed three singles and Kevin Smith’s eighth inning double. Christian Pache, mired in a 1 for 23 stretch, knocked in Smith for the A’s only run.

“For my money, when he has fastball command, he should normally be pitching in the seventh, eighth, ninth inning,” manager Joe Maddon said of Sandoval. “The way his stuff is, they don’t get good swings at it. Don’t get good looks at it.”

Sandoval’s brilliance allowed the Angels’ bats to be patient with A’s starter Cole Irvin, who was returning from a stint on the injured list. The Angels got single runs in the first, second and fifth against Irvin. Trout homered off Justin Grimm in the seventh, a laser inside the left field foul pole.

The A’s are 2-5 in a stretch of games against divisional opponents that continues through June 1. Seattle is next, then Texas and Houston. The A’s will have to pick up their offense to compete. But their gutty starters have faltered as of late too. Irvin’s loss on Sunday drops the Oakland starters to 0-6 over the last 10 games.

But the issues don’t stop there: seven A’s errors over the last nine games have the defense showing wear. Thirty errors in 43 games ranks the team near the bottom of the American League.

On Monday, the A’s open a three-game set against the Mariners in Seattle with Zach Logue facing Marco Gonzales.

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