Mental mistakes, missing offense doom A’s to 4-2 loss to the Indians

By Morris Phillips

OAKLAND–The A’s are talking about all the extra work they’re putting in to get their offense in gear.

That’s not a good sign.

Sunday’s 4-2 loss to the Indians came with mental blunders, clutch pitching and little offense. That prompted another round of questions about the A’s offense afterwards.

“I feel good about it every day we go out there,” manager Bob Melvin said. “They get in good work in the cage. (Hitting coach Darren Bush) does well preparing them about how they’re going to be pitched to, we’re just in a rut right now. Every day we go out there, I feel like we’re going to break out of it.”

The A’s fell behind 1-0 on the game’s first pitch, hand delivered to the bleachers by Bradley Zimmer off Chris Bassitt. The A’s tied it in the second, then again in the fifth, 2-2, but that was it. Not many scoring opportunities, and those that surfaced didn’t amount to much.

The A’s have started the season’s second half like they finished the first–with issues offensively. Now that critical performers Mark Canha and Ramon Laureano have returned to the lineup, the belief was the team would start to perform again. But instead, Sunday’s loss was their 15th in their last 24 contests, enough losing to fall behind the Astros in the AL West, and feel the heat from a quartet of challengers for the league’s final wild card spot as well.

The biggest issue? The team batting average sunk to .208 over the last 18 games, it’s .233 over the entire season, and that’s just not cutting it in a year where the league average for teams is .241. Too many times, the A’s can’t produce runs, or run scoring opportunities. On Sunday, only one A’s batter, Matt Chapman, had an opportunity with a runner in scoring position. On a meager day offensively, that’s striking.

Two batters before Seth Brown’s solo shot got the A’s even in the fifth, Laureano tried to stretch a double into a stroll to third base when an errant throw got away from Jose Ramirez. But Laureano was tagged out in clear defiance of baseball’s rigid rule: don’t make the first out of an inning at third base.

“There’s nobody out, and when you aren’t scoring any runs, you try to make something happen,” Melvin said. “(The ball’s) out there in no-man’s land and (he) saw how far away the third baseman was and took a chance at getting there. Just didn’t work out.”

If Laureano stays put, Brown’s homer picks him up and gives the A’s a lead. Instead, little else happened. The A’s had trouble Sunday just mounting a threat.

Meanwhile, the locally raised group on the Indians took over. Outfielder Daniel Johnson from Vallejo homered to give the Indians a 3-2 lead, Zimmer, the former USF star, opened the scoring as previously mentioned, and Bryan Shaw from Livermore closed the door by pitching a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up his second save.

Attendance for the game was 8,572, a second disappointing, weekend ending crowd in a row for the A’s who haven’t benefitted from being competitive in the standing, as much as they’ve suffered with rumors circulating that the team may be moving to Las Vegas. That, and the team’s offensive woes would seem to point to a trade deadline acquisition that could jumpstart the team, but no names are currently circulating in that regard.

Chris Bassitt took the loss, ending his 10-game win streak dating back to April. Bassitt allowed six hits and three runs, two of those hits home runs by Zimmer and Johnson.

A’s get edged by Cleveland; Canha returns goes 0-4

Cleveland’s Franmil Reyes connects for a eighth inning solo home run that gets Cleveland a run ahead of the Oakland A’s at the Oakland Coliseum on Sat Jul 17, 2021 (AP News photo)

Cleveland 3 – 8 – 0

Oakland 2 – 7 – 0

By Lewis Rubman

Saturday, July 17, 2021

OAKLAND–The A’s reinstated Mark Canha from the Injured List today. The team’s won-lost record on June 25, the day their designated target had been placed on the list, was 46-32 (.590). They awoke this morning at 53-40 (.570). Projected over 162 games, they would have won four more games with Canha on the roster than they would have without him.

That’s a rough and far from perfect way of judging Canha’s worth to Oakland. Indeed, my seat of the pants calculations are more favorable to Canha than is the 2.3 WAR fangraphs gives him. Both, however, provide the sort of information that voters should be aware of when they cast their ballots for Most Valuable Player.

The MVP isn’t necessarily the league leader in any of the big three categories of batting average, home runs, and runs batted in; it’s the player who makes the biggest contribution to the team. Canha’s starting this afternoon in left field and batting in his old lead off spot without a day of rehab in the minors is a good indication of how large a contribution the A’s think he makes toward their success. He ended up going one for four in Oakland’s disappointing loss to the Indians..

A pair of two out two baggers by two of the A’s first basemen, Matt Olson and Mitch Moreland in his more recent role as DH, put the home team ahead in the first inning. The hits came off Cal Quantrill, the Indians’ 26 year old right hander who started the game with a record of 1-2, 4.23.

Frankie Montás had started the game for the green and gold at 8-7, 4.41 but had gone 1-0, 2.60, with an opponents’ BA of .194 over has thrree previous starts. Hekept the visitors off the scoreboard, at least in the runs column, for four and a third innings.

Then, with one down, Austin Hedges singled sharply to right and advanced to second when the Á’s starter walked the number nine batter,Daniel Johnson. César Hernánde then slammed a double off the rightt field scoreboard to driv in Hedges and allow Johnson to reach third. Amed Rosario lost no time in lofting a sacrifice fly to Laureano in center to put Cleveland ahead, 2-1.

Oakland threatened in the bottom of the fifth, loading the bases with no one out on Kemp’s infield single followed by consecutive plunkings of Aramís García and Canha, who showed that he’s lost none of his ability to get hit by a pitch. The stage was set for Elvis Andrus to display some midgame heroics.

But he grounded sharply into a 5-2-3 double play and, just like that, there were runners on second and third but with two out. A semi-intentional walk to Olson reloaded the basses, but Moreland’s to deep center was an out too late and a couple of dozen feets too short.

That inning put an end to Quantrill’s working day. He had hurled five complete frames and allowed one run, earned, on four hits, two walks, and two hit batters. He threw 85 pitches, 48 for strikes. His replacement was the Nick Sandlin, followed an inning later by Bryan Shaw.

The A’s brought in Deolis Guerra to face the tribe at the start of the seventh. Montás had allowed two runs, both earned, in his sixth innings of work, allowing eight hits and a walk. He had seven strikes outs and threw one wild pitch. His pitch count was 94, with 58 strikes. Guerra got through the seventh without allowing anyting worse thn a lead off single and then gave way to JB Wendelken for the eighth.

Wendelken wasn’t as effective as his predecessor. He delivered a 94 mph fast ball to Franmil Reyes, who delivered it to the dead center field seats on the Treehouse level, 437 feet away. It was the 15th homer of the year for the Indians’ DH.

Oakland was trailing 3-1 when Emmanuel Clase, whose 100 mph+ cut fast balls had provided the fodder for Jed Lowrie’s walk off two run homer last night, took the mound in the home eighth to try to maintain Cleveland’s two run edge He wasn’t that fast this afternoon, and maybe that helped. He set the heart of the Oakland lineup, Olson, Moreland, and Laureano, down in order.

The newly acquired Sam Moll made his Oakland debut in the top of the ninth. He needed only 11 pitches to retire the side with only a four pitch walk to sully his record.

Oakland faced closer James Karinchak in the ninth. He walked Chapman on five pitches. Seth Brown moved Chappy up 90 feet with a single to right center. Jed Lowrie pinch hit for Kemp. Yesterday’s hero hit a foul fly to right that moved Chapman to third.

Murphy pinch hit for García and hit a sacrifice fly to right that scored Chapman and brought Canha up with two outs and a runner on first. Karinchak quickly got ahead of him, 0 and 2. Canha fouled off two more offerings before sending a liner back to the mound that Karinchak couldn’t handle.

That single put Brown on second with the potential tying run and Canha on first representing the potential winning run with Andrus at the plate. He hit a hard grounder that shortstop Rosario back handed and threw to first in time to get Andrus out by a step and end the game.

Quantrill (2-2, 4.05) got the win; Montás (8-8, 4.33), the loss. Karinchak got his tenth save.

Tomorrow, Sunday, afternoon at 1:07 is the scheduled starting time for the rubber game of this three game series. Zach Plesac (4-3, 4,31) will go for Cleveland. Chris Bassitt (10-2, 3.28) probably will start for Oakland.

A’s get back home and edge Cleveland 5-4 to open series

Oakland A’s Jed Lowrie (8) is congratulated by teammates after hitting a walk off two run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning at the Oakland Coliseum Fri Jul 16, 2021 against visiting Cleveland. On the bottom left holding camera is A’s team photographer Michael Zagaris (AP News photo)

Cleveland 4 8 0

Oakland 5 12 0

By Lewis Rubman

Friday, July 16, 2021

OAKLAND–Baseball language has a way of misleading its users. We talk of the foul line and pole, foul places that are in fair territory. A pitcher for the home team who leaves the game after four and a half innings gets credit for five innings pitched.

That’s reasonable enough, but if he left before the third out, he’d been credited with four and two thirds of an inning pitched, which would be recorded in the box score as 4.2 innings, when as any numerically literate person could tell you that four and two thirds is annotated either as 4-2/3 or 4.667 (with as many sixes as you can stand until you finally throw up your hands and end it all with a seven). I mention this because tonight’s game at the Coliseum is widely considered to mark the opening of the second half of the 2021 season.

Let’s take a look at that. The A’s came into the game in second place in the AL West at 52-40 and are now 53-40 after their 5-4 Friday night win over Cleveland, three and a half games behind Houston. That’s 92 games played. The season is 162 games long, so the home team already had completed 56.8% of its scheduled games. That’s considerably more than half a season. (Cleveland, at 45-43, also had completed 56.8% of its allotted contests).

Before the game started, Oakland announced the return of Mitch Moreland from the puzzlingly named Injured List and Frank Schwindel’s return to Las Vegas. Moreland was in tonight’s lineup as DH. Mark Canha, however, remained on the IL with a strained left hip.

How the game would end also was a puzzle to the crowd of 12,361 until the last, improbable swing of Jed Lowrie’s bat. (Spoiler alert: the A’s won, 5-4).

A’s pitcher Sean Manaea, who started for the A’s after losing his last four starts, took the mound with a record of 6-6, 3.19. He got through the first four innings, although not without difficulty. A pretty line out double play, Andrus to Lowrie, got him out of trouble after a lead off walk to Bradley Zimmer followed by a wild pitch had put a runner in scoring position with none out and the top of the order coming to bat in the second. That twin killing made Ahmed Rosario’s subsequent double irrelevant.

Eli Morgan, toiling on the mound for Cleveland, wasn’t so lucky. After retiring the first two Oakland batters in the bottom of the third, the second out coming on Laureano’s shot to the warning track in center, the Indians’ right hande surrendered in rapid fire order a single to Andrus, a resounding double to Olson, and a Texas League double to Lowrie, and the A’s were on top, 2-0.

In the next frame, Moreland celebrated his return to action with a lead off home run off a 74 mph change up that left his bat at 106 mph and landed 395 feet away; over the right field fence. It was the veteran slugger’s seventh round tripper and 23rd RBI of the year.

Manaea’s shutout lasted until his fourth pitch in the top of the fifth, a 91 mph sinker on a 1-2 count that Roberto Pérez drove over the left field fence to close the gap to 4-1. The Indians’ catcher had entered the game hitting all of .163 but with five dingers to his credit.

The tribe drew even with the A’s in the visitors’ half of the sixth. Rosario hit a bouncer that skipped over Chapman’s head that Andrus, backing him up, made a good play on but wasn’t able to get the ball over to first in time to retire the runner. It was scored, properly, as a hit, thus preserving Chapman’s 50 game errorless streak. Singles by José Ramírez and Franmil Reyes brought Rosario home.

After Manaea struk out Bobby Bradley, Yusemeiro Petit entered the fray and retired the side but not before yielding a sacrifice fly to Harold Ramírez which platedd Ramírez with the tying run. That run, was charged to Manaea, who went 5-1/3 innings, allowing three runs, all earned, on seven and a wild pitch. He struck out seven, and 64 of his 96 deliveries were strikes. He left with a no decision.

Morgan didn’t come out for the Oakland sixth. His line was five innings pitched with the same amount of runs and hits that Manaea had allowed. He struck out six and threw 84 pitches, 56 for strikes. He, too, got a no decision. He was releieved by Phil Maton, followed, after a scoreless frame, by Bryan Shaw in the seventh.

Petit ended the sixth with minimal damage, but he couldn’t escape the seventh without surrendering the lead. The tie breaker came off the bat of Cleveland’s number nine hitter, who went deep, sending a line drive out of the park in center field, his first homer of the season. It came in his 99th at bat of the year.

The A’s threatened against Shaw when Olson slammed a one out double aginst the foot of the right center field fence and Lowrie sent him to third on a single to left. Chapman worked a full count before drawing a walk to load the bases, bringing Moreland to the plate. He struck out on three pitches; the last strike was a called one. That left it up to Sean Murphy, who also took a called third strike.

Jake Diekman pitched the eighth for Oakland. He faced the heart of the Cleveland order, José Ramírez, Reyes, and Bradley, and set them down in order. James Karinchak returned the favor with a 1-2-3 bottom of the eight, albeit he faced the eighth, ninth, and lead off hitters.

The A’s called on Sergio Romo to keep them within a run of the tribe in the top of the ninth. He succeeded, not allowing anyone to reach base, helped by a little leaping catch at the left field wall by Kemp for the final out.

Emmanuel Clase tried to close it out for Cleveland in the ninth. Andrus led off with a line single to right. Olson popped out to second. Lowrie came to the plate; Clase threw him three pitches at 100 mph or faster. He took 101 mph cutter for a ball, swung at and missed a 100 mph cutter, and then hit another 100 mph cutter into the right field night to give Oakland the unexpected but well earned win.

The win went to the resurgent Sergio Romo. He’s now 1-0 with an ERA of 4.00 The loss and blown save were charged to Clase, whose record sit at 3-5, with four blown saves (he’s recorded 11 saves in 15 opportunities). His ERA is 2.19.

Matt Chapman extended his errorless streak 51 games. The home run was Lowrie’s 11th, and the RBIs were his 43rd and 44th.

The teams will go at it against tomorrow, Saturday, afternoon at 1:07 in a battle of right handers. Cal Quantrill (1-2,4.23) will be on the bump for Cleveland with Frank Montás (8-7,4.41) going for Oakland.

Oakland A’s podcast with Jeremiah Salmonson: Chris Bassitt takes mound for A’s tonight in search of 11th win

Oakland A’s starter Chris Bassitt seen here throwing to the Texas Rangers in Sun Jul 11, 2021 game is looking for his 11th win tonight at the Oakland Coliseum against Cleveland (AP file photo)

On the Oakland A’s podcast with Jeremiah:

#1 The Oakland A’s start the second half of the 2021 season 3.5 games behind the first place Houston Astros it’s not much of a climb but the A’s certainly would like to recapture the position of first place that they once held earlier this season.

#2 The A’s who open a three game series on Friday night at the Oakland Coliseum against Cleveland. Cleveland are in second place behind first place Chicago White Sox eight games behind. If the playoffs were to start tonight they would not be eligible.

#3 Three former A’s players that contributed huge when they were in Oakland and went to play for Cleveland and have moved on are Carlos Santana (Kansas City Royals), Francisco Lindor (New York Mets) and pitcher Carlos Carrasco who is also on the Mets.

#4 Jeremiah big vote by the Oakland City Council is on Tuesday a thumbs down by the council will pretty end the long tenure the A’s have had in Oakland when first came in 1968. It would for example take at least three years for Las Vegas to have a ball park ready for the A’s and the A’s during those three years would a be a lame duck franchise.

#5 Three game series to begin at the Oakland Coliseum tonight with Cleveland starting pitcher Eli Morgan (1-3 ERA 8.44) and for the A’s starting pitcher Chris Bassitt (10-2 ERA 3.28) tell us how you see this match up tonight.

Join Jeremiah for the A’s podcasts each Friday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: Former Cleveland second baseman Roberto Alomar honored at All-Star game

photo from Amaury Pi-Gonzalez: The Major League Baseball Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame sign is on display at the Huntington Convention Center in Cleveland site of the 90th All Star Game this week.

On That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary:

The Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame is in Cleveland, Ohio, for the 90th MLB All-Star Game, and we will be inducting to our Hall of Fame, Cleveland Indians second baseman Roberto Alomar, who is 51 years old and born in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Our exhibit will be at the Huntington Convention Center at the MLB All-Star Game in Cleveland.