By Morris Phillips
Beleaguered opponents are showing up on the A’s schedule at just the right time.
In Denver, this weekend, the A’s cruised Friday and Saturday, holding a lead after each of the 18 innings on their way to a pair of crucial wins that kept them atop the AL West.
But on Sunday, the Colorado Rockies decided they weren’t the A’s stomping post anymore.
German Marquez found his groove, navigating traffic on the bases beautifully, as he kept the A’s scoreless for the first five innings, the centerpiece to the Rockies 3-1 at Coors Field. Marquez went six innings, allowing four hits and a run in the sixth, good enough to remind the A’s that their offense isn’t where they would prefer at this stage of the season.
“I have been working a lot on my mechanics to get my tempo back and now I’m getting the results,” Marquez said in explaining his effort to extricate himself from an iffy 4-5 start to the season. “I feel really happy about it.”
The A’s left Oakland limping last Sunday after suffering a pair of losses to the Angels in which their offense completely disappeared. The road trip to Seattle and Denver was just what they needed, going 4-2 while hitting .297 and hitting seven homers in the six games. But Sunday wasn’t part of the offensive uptick, with Sean Murphy’s RBI single in the sixth all the A’s could muster to talk about.
“All around, it was a great road trip,” Elvis Andrus said. “We won all series. So that’s what you’re looking for, continue to win series and maintain first place.”
The A’s fell to 35-26, one game ahead of the Astros, and kept the fourth best record in the American League. They’re not where they want to be–hitting on all cylinders–but opponents like the Mariners, Rockies and on Tuesday back in Oakland, the Diamondbacks, give the A’s an opportunity to pick up steam without key performers Ramon Laureano and closer Trevor Rosenthal, who’s status will be updated soon.
Kaprielian has made five starts now as one of those stop gap guys, and overall he’s been a success. Even on Sunday, as a muddled through with too many pitches too early in the ballgame, he kept the A’s competitive. Kaprielian went five innings, allowed two runs, and suffered his first loss of the season. Most importantly, he showed that he’s ready for start number six later this week, as manager Bob Melvin continues to lean on the rookie.
“You give up two runs when you score five, you look like you pitched a really good game,: Melvin said. “You give up two runs when you only score one, and you take a loss. But in this place, I’d take it.”
The A’s travel back to the Bay Area and get their second look at Arizona with Chris Bassitt pitching the opener in a matchup with Jon Duplantier. The A’s swept the two-game set at Chase Field in Phoenix earlier in the season.