OAKLAND – Sean Doolittle and Chris Bassitt each addressed reporters in regretful tones Tuesday night, both men re-living the one pitch they wish they had back.
Doolittle expanded with great detail about the go-ahead homer he served up to Jimmy Rollins in the ninth inning, which sent the A’s to a 5-4 loss against the Chicago White Sox. Bassitt’s words were few, and they cut right to the point as he discussed the three-run homer he surrendered to Todd Frazier that put the A’s in a 3-1 hole in the fifth.
“He’s one of the best bad-ball hitters in the game,” Bassitt said of the 0-2 pitch that Frazier took deep, “and I have to make a lot worse pitch there than I did. I gave him a chance and he made me pay for it.”
Both shared the same desire to hit the rewind button on one pitch that could have changed their nights. But that’s the most tortuous aspect of a one-run loss, right? Whether you’re a player or a fan, the worst part of a game like Tuesday’s is knowing that had one or two individual plays shaken out differently, the A’s could have been celebrating a victory rather than lamenting a loss.
It’s a feeling this team knows well.
The A’s are trying to turn the page and forget about a 2015 season that featured a Major League-high 35 one-run losses. So far, two games of 2016 has brought two more of those one-run defeats.
And what stands out from this 0-2 start is that in each game the A’s have shown the kind of fight that often gets rewarded with a win. On Monday, the bullpen toughened up after Rich Hill left the game in the third and delivered 6 1/3 shutout innings to keep Oakland within striking distance in a 4-3 loss.
On Tuesday, the A’s were experiencing a mostly frustrating night offensively until new first baseman Yonder Alonso delivered a two-out two-run single in the eighth to tie the game, 4-4.
Doolittle referenced the effort his teammates put up, and that added to his disappointment in his own performance.
“Yonder comes up with a big hit, the guys push two across to tie it,” Doolittle said. “And on top of it, I felt like I had good stuff. I felt like that (home run pitch) was the one mistake I made that inning. Unfortunately, he made me pay for it.”
Rollins, the 37-year-old former MVP and an Oakland native, belted a 94 mile-per-hour fastball over the fence in left-center on a 2-2 pitch to snap the 4-4 tie.
“I was trying to elevate up and in,” Doolittle said. “I came up and in on the previous pitch and got a swing and miss. It didn’t get there. I didn’t execute.”
Bassitt seemed completely in control entering the fifth, trying to protect a 1-0 lead. But it was a bad omen when second baseman Jed Lowrie – who delivered a pair of two-out RBI hits – made a costly mistake. He flipped a throw late to second on an attempted force play on Rollins’ grounder. The A’s should have gotten an out on the play, and two batters later, Frazier golfed an 0-2 curve from Bassitt for a three-run homer and 3-1 Sox lead.
Melvin was asked what Lowrie should have done differently on the play.
“You’re always trying to get that lead runner,” the manager said. “And whether it’s a shovel (flip) or whether you step to your side and throw it a little bit harder …”
The little mistakes are hurting the A’s because they’re opening the door to bigger mistakes. And so far, the good things the A’s are doing just don’t outweigh the bad.