Athletics

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's 4-2 loss to Blue Jays

donaldsonscores-usatsi.jpg
USATSI

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's 4-2 loss to Blue Jays

BOX SCORE

The A’s collected hits in bunches over the weekend in New York.

They should have saved some of them for north of the border.

They managed just two hits total in a 4-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday that began a four-game series at the Rogers Center. And while the offense wasn’t the only area that contributed to this defeat, it’s tough to cover up for such a lack of offense.

Oakland has dropped three of the first four on this seven-game road trip, and Bob Melvin remains one victory away from reaching 1,000 for his managerial career.

The A's racked up 33 hits in a three-game series against the Mets, their most in any three-game series this weekend.

Still searching for that ‘W’: Chris Smith made his third start for the A’s and turned in his third consecutive quality start, going six innings and giving up three runs. You could argue he’s pitched well enough to win all three games, but the 36-year-old journeyman still is searching for his first major league win since 2008. Russell Martin homered in the first after the A’s gave Smith an early lead. Then Toronto added two more in the fourth, helped along by a Josh Donaldson double and two walks issued by Smith.

Chapman on a roll: Rookie third baseman Matt Chapman blasted a 435-foot homer for his third long ball in as many days, and that wasn’t his most impressive moment of Monday’s game. Chapman made a terrific stop in the seventh to start an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded to keep Oakland in the game at 4-2. He also showed some athleticism with a leaping catch with the A’s in the shift. Chapman basically was playing shortstop in that alignment, and the catch was persuasive evidence of why the A’s briefly experimented with him at shortstop in the minors. Overall, the A’s played strong defensively, with Khris Davis making a couple of nice plays in left field.

Axford struggles again: A tough season for reliever John Axford continues, as the veteran entered to begin the seventh and promptly loaded the bases with no outs before being pulled. He walked two and allowed a single before Melvin called on Josh Smith, called up just Monday from the minors. Axford has issued 17 walks in 21 innings this season.

Rotation thoughts: With Kendall Graveman seemingly nearing a return from a shoulder injury, Smith is basically auditioning to stay in the rotation each time he takes the mound, though a trade of Sonny Gray wouldn’t make things such a tight squeeze. From that standpoint, Smith helped himself again with a strong outing, and he also turned in a couple bare-hand plays defensively to aid his cause.

No Montas: With Frankie Montas stuck in New York because of a visa issue, the A’s recalled Josh Smith from Triple-A Nashville to fortify the bullpen. First baseman/outfielder Matt Olson was sent down to clear a roster spot.

Former A's outfielder Josh Reddick clarifies 'meaningful' comments

Former A's outfielder Josh Reddick clarifies 'meaningful' comments

Former A's outfielder Josh Reddick hasn't exactly warmed himself to his old fans this weekend.

On Friday, the Houston Astros outfielder tweeted his displeasure with the umpires overturning a close play at the plate, allowing the A's to tie (and eventually) win the game to move one game back in the AL West. What he said Friday, however, raised even more eyebrows.

Reddick was asked by a reporter afterwards what it was like being part of such an intense, back-and-forth game, and gave a response that Oakland fans were none too pleased with.

"It was fun," Reddick said Friday. "Playing some meaningful baseball in this ballpark doesn't come around a whole lot. As a guy who's been in it before in the past, it's a lot of fun when the fans do come out here. They really make a lot of noise and make it loud here, so it's a lot of fun to be a part of."

He clarified Saturday that his Astros had not played many meaningful baseball games at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, according to the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser, but the damage was done. The replies to the above tweet were a preview of what was to come, and Reddick drew boos from the crowd.

Reddick once again took to Twitter Saturday evening, hours after the A's moved into a tie for first place with the Astros in the AL West, and said his comments Friday were "taken out of context." 

"I never meant that 'meaningful' games were never played at Rickey Henderson Field," Reddick wrote. "I played for [five] years in a great organization where I played in a lot of memorable baseball games. [Three] of those years were playoff teams and VERY meaningful games ... I would NEVER bash Oakland or the fan base regardless of who I play for. That being said, I'm happy for all those guys in that clubhouse. It's good to see them winning and playing so well."

Reddick played 596 games in parts of five seasons in Oakland, by far his longest tenure with any big-league team. Since leaving Oakland in a 2016 trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Reddick is batting .326 with five doubles, two homers, and 14 RBI in 114 plate appearances against his old club. He won his first World Series last season with Houston. 

A's notes: Josh Phegley shines in rare start

A's notes: Josh Phegley shines in rare start

OAKLAND — Josh Phegley made just his 17th start of the season Saturday. Maybe he should play a little more. The A's improved to 15-2 in Phegley's starts this year.

The 30-year-old went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a team-high three RBI. He also caught Trevor Cahill's seven-inning, one-hit gem. Jonathan Lucroy will obviously still be the A's everyday catcher, as he should be, but it's good to know that he can get a day off every once in awhile, and Phegley won't miss a beat.

--- Phegley, Khris Davis, Matt Olson, and Stephen Piscotty all recorded two doubles. The A's eight doubles tied the Oakland single-game record, last accomplished in 2013.

--- Matt Chapman was the only A's starter who failed to reach base. That snapped his career-high 30-game on base streak, as well as his career-high 14-game hitting streak. Chapman is still slashing .276/.362/.500 for the season.

--- Oakland improved to 40-13 in its last 53 games, the best record in MLB during that stretch. The A's also clinched another series victory, improving to 15-1-2 in their last 18 series.

--- The A's 74-49 record in their best after 123 games since 1992. It is tied for the fourth best record through 123 games in Oakland history.

--- Oakland remains the only team in MLB that is undefeated when leading after seven innings, improving to 51-0. The A's are 60-0 when leading after eight.

--- The A's have won 19 of their last 23 games at home and are 37-24 at the Coliseum for the season.

--- During the game, the A's announced that they sent 23-year-old RHP Nolan Blackwood to the Tigers as one of the two prospects in the Mike Fiers trade. Blackwood was 6-3 with a 4.08 ERA and nine saves at Double-A Midland this season. He was ranked as the A's 30th best prospect by MLB.com.