OAKLAND – The A’s trotted out their alternate lineup against right-handed pitchers Wednesday night, but it didn’t produce the intended results.
Angels starter Garrett Richards was stingy in an abbreviated outing and three of his relievers took it to the finish line as Los Angeles dealt the A’s a 5-0 defeat before a Coliseum crowd that had little to get excited about.
Richards was making his first start since last May due to a damaged elbow ligament. Rather than opt for the Tommy John procedure, he took the unusual non-surgical route and instead chose stem-cell injections to rehab.
He blanked the A’s over 4 2/3 innings before leaving the mound with a trainer in the fifth, a scary moment given his long road to recovery. The Angels later announced he was removed as a precaution for biceps cramping.
Not that getting into Los Angeles’ bullpen helped the A’s any. Manager Bob Melvin moved Matt Joyce into the leadoff spot and dropped Rajai Davis to ninth, a look the A’s are likely to utilize occasionally against right-handers to try to maximize Joyce’s on-base abilities.
Things didn’t click Wednesday. The A’s advanced a runner to third in three different innings but couldn’t get him home. On two occasions, they stranded a pair of runners in scoring position.
They’ll take the field Thursday afternoon looking to salvage a split in this season-opening four-game series.
Starting pitching report
Jharel Cotton (0-1) didn’t make it out of the fifth inning in his season debut, giving up five runs on eight hits. The Angels got to him for three in the second, though they hardly knocked him around the yard. It was a series of bloopers and well-placed hits that hurt Cotton, plus a walk he issued in the inning. Danny Espinosa, who sank the A’s with his decisive three-run homer Tuesday, dropped a single into left that scored two. Andrelton Simmons’ bleeder down the right field line scored another.
In the fifth, the Angels strung together some nice at-bats. Kole Calhoun’s single moved Yunel Escobar to third. Mike Trout singled home a run. Then with Trout breaking for second, Albert Pujols shot a single through the hole on the right side for a 5-0 lead. That was Cotton’s last batter.
Relieving Cotton was Frankie Montas, the rookie who made his A’s debut. The right-hander tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing two hits and sitting anywhere between 94 and 96 miles per hour on the stadium gun. Daniel Coulombe threw two scoreless innings with a strikeout. J.C. Ramirez (1-0) got the win for the Angels.
At the plate
The A’s mustered just six hits. Each of the three times they put a runner at third, it came with two outs, and they couldn’t break through with the big hit they needed. Stephen Vogt grounded to second with runners on second and third in the first. After Richards exited in the fifth and lefty Jose Alvarez entered, Mark Canha pinch hit for Joyce and popped out to end that rally. With two outs in the sixth, Khris Davis singled and Vogt doubled, but Trevor Plouffe went down swinging on a 96 mile-per-hour fastball from J.C. Ramirez.
Trout is doing his usual damage against the A’s. Through three games, he’s 5-for-13 with three doubles and four RBI.
In the field
The A’s turned two double plays, including a liner right at Yonder Alonso in which he stepped on first to double off Pujols and prevent the Angels from scoring more than two runs in the fifth.
The announced turnout was 13,405.
The A’s see their first left-hander of the season when they face Tyler Skaggs (3-4, 4.17 last year) in Thursday’s 12:35 p.m. series finale. Andrew Triggs (1-1, 4.31) takes the mound for Oakland.