OAKLAND — It was the opponent on the mound that hurt the A’s most Monday night, first baseman Yonder Alonso insisted, not the environment inside the ballpark.
The A’s went down quietly against Tampa Bay, as Jake Odorizzi and two Rays relievers held Oakland to just two hits in a 3-2 loss before a crowd of 9,736, the smallest at the Coliseum since the 2011 season.
Not that this was particularly unusual for the A’s. Their Monday night home crowds typically are very light throughout the season. Add in the fact the A’s are in last place and the Rays are not a great box-office draw, and the ingredients were there for the smallest home turnout in six seasons.
“No excuse,” Alonso said afterward. “You’ve got to go play, do what you gotta do to win a ballgame. You’ve gotta bear down, stay focused. It’s always nice to have a packed house, no question about it. But at the end of the day, you’ve gotta go play for each other, for the crowd, and go out there and give it your all.”
The A’s were coming off a weekend sweep of a first-place Cleveland team, and two of those games drew impressive crowds. On Saturday night, when Rickey Henderson was honored in a pregame ceremony, 33,021 were on hand. Sunday afternoon’s sweep-clinching win attracted 25,509.
But Monday goes down as a defining symbol of one of the most dismal seasons of Bay Area baseball in recent memory, with both the A’s and Giants mired in last place. With the A’s failing to crack 10,000, across the Bay the Giants saw their National League-record 530-game sellout streak end against the Indians. (Of course, it’s all relative. They still drew an impressive 39,538).
A’s team officials deserve credit this season for many upgrades made to the Coliseum game-day experience as they work toward announcing a site to build a new ballpark in Oakland. It also doesn’t help the A’s cause when both them and the Giants are playing at home at the same time.
At any rate, this was the introduction to the Coliseum for new A’s reliever Blake Treinen, who surely had plenty of adrenaline flowing no matter how many people were in the stands. Acquired from the Nationals on Sunday in the deal that sent Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to Washington, Treinen popped the catcher’s mitt as high as 99 miles per hour during a scoreless eighth inning.
He consistently hit 98.
“It’s an easy 98,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “It doesn’t look like a red-line max effort-type delivery with it. It looked like he had a sharp slider. He threw a changeup. He’s got three pitches and the ball gets on you.”
Treinen was drafted by the A’s in 2011 and sent to Washington in a three-time trade before the 2013 season. He expressed enthusiasm about rejoining the organization and looked forward to a fresh start after a rough start to his season with the Nationals.
He was happy with Monday’s outing but jokingly pointed out the challenge of joining a new team mid-season.
“The hardest thing is trying to remember names,” Treinen said. “I’m used to seeing the name on the back of the jersey, not the first name. Everybody’s introducing their first name, and I’m like, ‘What’s the last name?’, trying to figure it out.
“People look different outside the uniform. I need to get flash cards with pictures and names and I’ll be good.”