The A’s had every right to feel good after winning three of their first four games against the Los Angeles Angels. They had timely hitting, solid defense and some excellent relief pitching to start the season well.
Puffed-out chests can turn to shrunken shoulders in a flash. That happened in less than 24 hours, when the A’s lost both halves of a two-game set to Colorado. The Rockies secured a mini-sweep with Wednesday’s 5-1 victory over the home team at Oakland Coliseum.
While finishing a homestand .500 is no reason to slouch, losing winnable games hurts more in a shortened season. You’ll quickly tire of hearing how 60 games will play much differently, but fatigue won’t take away a simple truth that every game matters more.
The A’s didn’t lose over lack of opportunity. They had plenty on Tuesday and a ton more Wednesday, when they went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
Defense abandoned the A’s a bit to expand Colorado’s lead late, but a lack of offense ultimately brought about a second straight loss.
Here are three takeaways from the final contest of a six-game homestand:
Upon further review: A’s hurt by replay
Nolan Arenado might have forgotten how many outs there were when he threw home in the A’s half of the fourth inning. That’s odd for the Rockies’ Gold Glove third baseman, who declined the easy force out at first for a close play at the plate.
Matt Olson left on contact with two outs, charged hard and slid away from the tag, but still was called out. The A’s disputed the ruling, asking for a replay review. They got one, which allowed NBC Sports California cameras to dissect the play from every angle.
You be the ump. Out or safe?— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) July 29, 2020
Out call was held up after review. pic.twitter.com/ENvwTRSABx
It sure seemed like Olson’s foot touched home before Rockies catcher Tony Wolters applied the tag on Olson’s upper thigh, but those making final decisions disagreed. The on-field call was confirmed -- there needs to be indisputable evidence to overturn a call on the field -- and the Rockies got out of a tight spot as Arenado’s odd choice didn’t cost the visiting team.
The decision hurt the A’s in a one-run game where every player crossing the plate safely is key. It’s tough to fume over a close call, even if it seems like the A’s lost a run they should’ve scored. In a shortened season where every win is important losing decisions like that hurt a lot more than they would in normal circumstances. If Olson’s safe, there are runners at first and third with Vimael Machin at the plate and the A’s have another chance to rally and take the first lead of the game.
Officials reviewed a key play in the ninth inning, when Jesus Luzardo lofted an errant volley a bit too high to first base that allowed an infield single. That call looked right on the field, and upon review, and cost two runs.
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Luzardo likely makes last relief appearance
Jesus Luzardo was available Wednesday for the first time since an excellent relief appearance four days prior. He took the ball after Frankie Montas went five innings, and while he wasn’t perfect, Luzardo’s stuff predictably was electric.
The 22-year-old phenom allowed three runs, one earned, and had five strikeouts over 3 2/3 innings in what should be his last time working out of the bullpen. He started the season there because he wasn’t ramped up enough to take his place in the rotation after missing two weeks in quarantine with a positive coronavirus test.
A’s manager Bob Melvin said before Wednesday’s game that he could start one of four upcoming road games in Seattle. He’s certainly ready for it after throwing 67 pitches in this one, a count that should go up by 15 or so his next time out.
That could come on Aug. 3. Including a Thursday off day, he could start the series finale on regular rest.
Right now, Daniel Mengden is scheduled to make that start. He likely would be the first to come out of the rotation if Luzardo’s ready.
Luzardo looks ready, which is great news for the A’s. He would give the Green and Gold another dominant arm in the rotation, which has been a smidge shaky to start the season while getting bailed out by excellent bullpen work.
Chapman giveth, Chapman taketh away
Matt Chapman is on something of a hot streak. The A’s third baseman reached base in six of nine plate appearances this series, the last of which was a first-inning home run that fired off the bat like a laser beam.
That particular shot out of the park put him in exclusive company among players with elite offensive and defensive capability. He became the first third baseman to hit 75 home runs and have 75 runs saved through his first four seasons, a feat accomplished a few games into this campaign, per baseball analyst Ryan Spaeder.
The preseason MVP candidate joins Mookie Betts, Andruw Jones and Barry Bonds in that 75/75 club, exclusive company for someone who works the bat and glove well.
Players with at least 75 homers and 75 defensive runs saved through their first four seasons:— Ryan M. Spaeder (@theaceofspaeder) July 29, 2020
84 HR | 77.2 DRS
80 HR | 98.9 DRS
78 HR | 76.0 DRS
75 HR | 79.0 DRS
*in his fourth season