Athletics

Instant Replay: A's score four off Darvish, end four-game skid

Instant Replay: A's score four off Darvish, end four-game skid

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND – The A’s crammed all of their scoring into one action-packed inning, and it was enough to snap their four-game losing streak Tuesday.

Held silent through five innings by Yu Darvish, the A’s broke through with a four-run sixth. They combined that with excellent pitching to turn back the Texas Rangers 4-2 in the middle contest of a three-game series at the Coliseum.

Adam Rosales keyed the game-winning rally with a two-run homer off Darvish that erased a 2-0 deficit. He turned on a 3-1 pitch and deposited his first homer well over the left field wall to make it 2-2. Having been shut out on three hits the night before, Rosales’ blast generated the offensive momentum they’d been lacking.

Jaff Decker, drawing a start as the leadoff man, doubled to left-center. Yonder Alonso walked, and after Tony Barnette relieved Darvish (1-2), Jed Lowrie drew another walk to load the bases. Khris Davis delivered a sacrifice fly to center to put the A’s ahead. Then Ryon Healy, pinch-hitting for Stephen Vogt, dropped a bloop single to score Alonso for a 4-2 lead.

That made a winner of Andrew Triggs (3-0), who has been the A’s best starter out of the gate. He threw six innings of three-hit ball and handed things over to a bullpen that got the job done in efficient order. Santiago Casilla nailed down his second save, as the A’s will now try to capture this series in the finale Wednesday afternoon.

Starting pitching report:
Triggs is justifying the A’s faith in him as a starter in the first month. He gave up just three hits over six innings, getting the Rangers to chase his breaking stuff out of the zone and keeping the ball off the barrel of the bat. He struck out five and didn’t issue a walk. The stat that says it all: Triggs has yet to allow an earned run in 17 2/3 innings pitched. That’s the longest season-opening streak by an A’s starter in Oakland history.

Two unearned runs off him in the sixth gave Texas the lead. The rally started with Yonder Alonso’s fielding error. A wild pitch from Triggs moved Jurickson Profar to second, and Elvis Andrus’ line single to center scored Profar him with the game’s first run. Andrus’ then used his legs to create the second run, stealing second and third and scoring on Nomar Mazara’s fielder’s choice grounder to short. Andrus broke for home and slid in ahead of Rosales’ throw.

Bullpen report:
All went according to plan. Sean Doolittle came on for the seventh to relieve Triggs and threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Ryan Dull got the final two outs of the eighth and Santiago Casilla delivered a 1-2-3 ninth. Casilla appears to have emerged as Bob Melvin’s preferred closer, though Doolittle will be an option too depending on matchups.

At the plate:
The A’s have scored in just one out of 18 innings so far in this series, but they rallied at the right time Tuesday night. Decker scored a run after his double in the sixth. He finished 1-for-4, and that may earn him another shot in the leadoff spot Wednesday. After two games off, Healy will return to the lineup Wednesday.

In the field:
Alonso made two excellent plays at first base in the early innings, but a miscue in the sixth opened the gates to a Texas rally. He mishandled Profar’s chopper for an error, and Profar eventually scored on Andrus’ line single to center. That makes 11 consecutive games with an error for the A’s, and a major league-leading 17**** for the season.

Attendance:
The announced turnout was 12,091.

Up next:
The A’s and Rangers wrap up this three-game series with Wednesday’s 12:35 matinee. Jesse Hahn (0-1, 3.75) and lefty Martin Perez (1-1, 2.20) take the ball.

 

Adding insult to injury: A's must regroup after rough start to season

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USATSI

Adding insult to injury: A's must regroup after rough start to season

It's hard to imagine a worse start to the season for the Oakland A's.

Sure it's only two games, but the A's return home from Japan with a pair of losses on the field and two more off of it.

On Wednesday we learned that talented left-hander Jesús Luzardo will be shut down for four to six weeks with a strained rotator cuff. That's a significant blow to an already thin starting rotation.

Then in Thursday's game, first baseman Matt Olson left with right-hand discomfort after fouling off a pitch in the fifth inning. According to the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser, Olson had trouble gripping a bat after the foul ball.

Of course, it's much too early to panic. Even if Olson has to miss some time, the A's have the infield depth to get by without him. Mark Canha, Chad Pinder, and Jurickson Profar can all play first base and Franklin Barreto can play second.

The real concern lies in the starting pitching. Luzardo wasn't a sure thing to make the rotation out of spring camp, but he certainly figured to be a factor at some point in the near future. Without him, the A's might need help.

Mike Fiers and Marco Estrada, the team's top two starters, both struggled in their season debuts. Fiers only lasted three innings, allowing five earned runs. Estrada got through five innings, giving up three earned runs and two home runs.

The A's are counting on Fiers and Estrada to pitch much better than they did in Japan. Whether they can anchor the rotation throughout the season remains to be seen.

Veteran left-hander Brett Anderson is penciled in as the number three starter, though he struggled much of last year, both with performance and injuries. Frankie Montas will start the year as the number four starter, with Aaron Brooks and Chris Bassitt battling for the number five job.

Starting pitching is clearly the weak point of an otherwise excellent roster. Oakland's hitting, defense, and bullpen are all good enough to reach the postseason and perhaps even the World Series.

[RELATED: A's running out of options following Luzardo injury]

The big question will be whether the A's starters can deliver five solid innings to give the offense and bullpen a chance. Fiers couldn't in his debut. Estrada did a bit better, but it still wasn't enough.

The A's now have a chance to regroup and reset before their home opener March 28 against the Angels. From there, they'll have 160 games to try to repeat last year's magic.
 

Jesús Luzardo's injury a major blow for A's, as team scrambles for options

Jesús Luzardo's injury a major blow for A's, as team scrambles for options

Oakland's already shaky starting rotation took a major blow Wednesday night when it was revealed that 21-year-old left-hander Jesús Luzardo would be shut down for four to six weeks with a rotator cuff strain.

While Luzardo has not yet thrown a major league pitch, the A's top prospect appeared poised to make the starting rotation following a phenomenal spring training. His big league debut will now have to wait and Oakland will have to scramble to shore up its rotation.

In the short term, the competition for the A's number five starter job is likely down to right-handers Chris Bassitt and Aaron Brooks. Bassitt still has a minor league option remaining while Brooks does not, giving the latter a slight edge.

In the bigger picture, the A's will likely have to add another starting pitcher to the mix. Veteran right-hander Edwin Jackson remains available on the free agent market and the team has been in contact with him throughout the offseason. The 35-year-old put together a strong 2018 season in Oakland and was a critical presence in the clubhouse.

As it currently stands, the A's starting rotation features Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada, Brett Anderson, Frankie Montas, and either Brooks or Bassitt. Right-hander Jharel Cotton and southpaws Sean Manaea and A.J. Puk are still recovering from injuries but should be back in the mix sometime this season.

[RELATED: Matt Olson exits game with hand discomfort]

Unfortunately, the A's can't afford to sit around and wait for their potential returns. Signing Jackson has gone from a luxury to a necessity. His return would at least give Oakland four veteran starters to hold down the fort until reinforcements arrive. 

Oakland still features one of the best bullpens in all of baseball, which means they don't need their starters to go more than five innings. They just need pitchers who can keep them in the game early on. Jackson has certainly proven more than capable of that.