OAKLAND —A’s manager Bob Melvin likes to say how his team feeds off the energy of a big crowd, but that’s a reciprocal arrangement.
The A’s have to provide some motivation for fans to get fired up in the first place.
That wasn’t happening Monday night at the Coliseum, where the A’s stumbled to a 7-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox that featured malfunctions at the plate, on the mound and in the field. Oakland has dropped six in a row and has lost its last eight at the Coliseum.
The A’s were 22-13 at home after completing a four-game sweep of the New York Yankees on June 18. They haven’t won in front of the home fans since, the main reason they sit 13 games under .500 at 35-48.
A crowd of 40,019 showed up — the largest regular-season baseball crowd at the Coliseum since 2005 — for the pre-Fourth of July fireworks display afterward.
“That’s what was really disappointing,” Melvin said. “We really didn’t do anything well. If you swing the bat it kind of hides some of the other issues you might have, and we didn’t swing the bats. It’s disappointing because when they come out like that and you do some good things, our fans really are part of what gets us going.”
The A’s did get Jharel Cotton back on the mound. The rookie was pushed back in the rotation two days because of a blister and gave up four runs over five innings. How different his night, and the A’s as a whole, might have been had he been able to finish off a third inning at-bat with two runners aboard and Todd Frazier at the plate with two outs.
Cotton got ahead 0-2, then missed off the plate twice to make it 2-2. He caught too much plate with a cutter, and Frazier banged a two-run double to right field. Matt Davidson doubled to score another and the A’s trailed for good, 4-2.
Chalk it up as another learning experience for Cotton, who shows flashes of his great potential at times and other times very much resembles the inexperienced rookie that he is. He fell to 5-8 with a 5.17 ERA.
Cotton took heart that the blister wasn’t an issue at all. The results he wasn’t as pleased with.
“It’s irritation because it’s two outs and two strikes,” he said. “You just want to get that putaway pitch, and I just wasn’t putting those guys away. They got the big hits with two strikes. It’s something I’ll work on to get better at for sure.”
The A’s welcomed highly touted rookie third baseman Matt Chapman back from the disabled list, and he hit second in the order as Melvin tried to stack right-handers up top in the lineup against Sox lefty Carlos Rodon. He couldn’t help the A’s shake out of their recent offensive doldrums.
They’ve scored just 10 runs over the past five games. They struck out 13 times, the eighth time in their past 11 games that they’ve cracked double figures in that category. That left Melvin speaking frankly about the team’s offensive woes.
“We’re not all that good about just trying to put the ball in play with two strikes, and maybe the other team will make a mistake,” he said. “When you strike out, no one’s gonna make a mistake.”