OAKLAND–With the heat on like never before at the Coliseum, the A’s wilted on Sunday afternoon in the rubber game with the Padres.
Tied 2-2 in the third, a video replay of a bang-bang tag play on baserunner Rex Grossman figured to be reversed, allowing the A’s to regain the lead.
Despite replays from four angles–all revealing but not completely transparent–the league office review crew upheld umpire Nick Mahrley’s call of out.
In an empty stadium, the groans emanating from the A’s dugout spoke volumes. The replays seemed to support the A’s contention that Grossman’s foot crossed the plate before pitcher Garrett Richards’ sweeping tag was applied.
“When you think you have a run and you don’t have a run, that’s tough to swallow,” A’s starter Mike Fiers said.
The momentum shift was all the Padres–winners of five of their last seven games in the midst of their trade deadline talent upgrade–would need. Jake Cronenworth’s RBI double allowed San Diego to regain the lead in the fourth, and Fernando Tatis Jr.’s league-leading 15th home run finished the A’s in a 5-3 decision.
The loss capped a week of vulnerability for Oakland starting with four consecutive COVID-19 cancellations attributed to Daniel Mengden’s positive test, then an injury to Marcus Semien took the always available shortstop out of the lineup and on to the 10-day injured list.
On Sunday, the temperature shot up to 94 degrees at first pitch resulting in the hottest home game in Oakland A’s history. If all that wasn’t enough struggling Matt Chapman was removed in the fifth inning because of a hip injury.
Chapman struck out in both of his at-bats on Sunday, and eight times in his previous nine at-bats going back to Friday night. In making a flawless scoop, spin and throw to retire Jurickson Profar in the fourth, Chapman apparently aggravated a previous flare-up in his hip. Under the watchful eye of the A’s training staff, the third baseman was replaced by Chad Pinder before the start of the fifth.
The A’s have dropped four of their last five, but maintain a 3 1/2 game lead on the Astros on the eve of a five games in four days set against Houston that could settle the division for Oakland or prepare the stage for a photo finish in the season’s final 15 games.
Given the importance of the upcoming series the absences of Houston’s Jose Altuve along with Semien and Chapman will be significant.
“It’s not great timing,” manager Bob Melvin said. “We have a lot of teams with injuries right now. We’ve been pretty fortunate.”