Robbie Grossman

Trying to make sense of A's wild, long and ugly 10-9 loss to Angels

Trying to make sense of A's wild, long and ugly 10-9 loss to Angels

What exactly did we just watch?

On Wednesday night, the A's and Angels played what will officially be classified as a baseball game, but it was really more like an M. Night Shyamalan movie -- long, full of weird twists, and an ending that didn't exactly make sense.

When it was finally over, the game had seen 19 runs, 29 hits, 13 different pitchers, and 380 pitches over the course of four hours and 13 minutes, the longest nine-inning game in Angel Stadium history. All the A's were left with was a frustrating 10-9 loss.

We should have known it was going to be a strange one right from the beginning, as both teams used openers to start the game. Cam Bedrosian pitched a scoreless first for the Angels, while Joakim Soria allowed a lead-off home run to Tommy La Stella in the bottom of the inning.

From there, the A's took control, abusing Angels right-hander Félix Peña for seven runs in the second and third innings, and it looked like Oakland was on its way to an easy victory.

But Daniel Mengden couldn't protect the 7-1 lead, allowing six earned runs of his own in the third and fourth innings. When Shohei Ohtani blasted a three-run homer in the fourth, the A's comfortable six-run lead had suddenly morphed into an 8-7 deficit.

From there, the game turned normal, for a few innings anyway. Oakland regained the lead in the top of the eighth thanks to a Matt Olson RBI single and some aggressive base-running by Matt Chapman to score on a wild pitch.

The bottom of the eighth was an adventure, to say the least. Robbie Grossman made an incredible diving catch to rob Luis Rengifo of extra bases, and it appeared as if the A's might have a chance to double up Taylor Ward, who nearly made a crucial base-running mistake.

Ward seemed to wander just past second base before retreating to first without touching the second base bag on his way back. The A's did not challenge the play, and La Stella would single to put runners on first and second with two outs for Mike Trout.

That left A's manager Bob Melvin with a tough decision.

Melvin elected to intentionally walk Trout, loading the bases and moving the go-ahead run into scoring position. Melvin summoned left-hander Ryan Buchter out of his bullpen to face Ohtani. Buchter couldn't get the job done, issuing a walk to force in the tying run.

"I wasn't gonna let (Trout) beat me in that situation," Melvin said to reporters after the game. "Ohtani is not the easiest guy in the world to go after, but going into the game, the guy that you don't want to beat you is Trout. Obviously, it's a tough decision, but I felt like that was our best chance."  

Fast forward to the bottom of the ninth, and that's where it really got weird. Lou Trivino quickly retired the first two Angels hitters, before allowing a single to Brian Goodwin. The speedy Goodwin would then steal second base, which turned out to be a critical play.

With two outs and the winning run now in scoring position, Dustin Garneau skied a fly ball to deep left field. Grossman was playing shallow, but it still looked like a routine play, especially considering his phenomenal catch the inning before.

It quickly became apparent that this would not be a routine play, however. Grossman got turned around almost immediately, struggling to track the ball in the air. He got back to the warning track and stuck his glove out, only to watch it fall just out of his reach and bounce over the wall for a game-winning ground rule double.

"I think the ball just kind of drifted over at an angle that he didn't expect it to," Melvin said. "Now he had to go a long way. We're certainly not playing deep. We have to play for a single there potentially. ... I think it just kind of fooled him. It would've been a good catch if he made it, for sure."

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When it was all said and done, the A's had blown leads of 7-1 and 9-8 in a game that really served as a microcosm of their season so far. Oakland once again fell below .500 at 30-31, a full 11 games behind the first-place Houston Astros.

The A's will have to put this one behind them quickly, as they still have a chance to win the series in Anaheim on Thursday night. But like so many other games already, this one really stings.

A's vs. Tigers lineup: Khris Davis scratched from matinee at Comerica Park

A's vs. Tigers lineup: Khris Davis scratched from matinee at Comerica Park

The A's arrived in Detroit looking for something to snap them out of their funk, and they found exactly what they were looking for in the struggling Tigers.

Bob Melvin's club pummeled the Tigers 17-3 in Game 1 of the series Thursday, and Frankie Montas struck out a career-high 10 batters to lead Oakland to a 7-3 win Friday.

The A's lineup will look a little different Saturday at Comerica Park, though.

Khris Davis initially was scheduled to be in the lineup batting cleanup, but he was scratched from the order and replaced by Robbie Grossman. Grossman will bat sixth and play left field, and Stephen Piscotty will take over Davis’ designated hitter role and bat fourth.

Davis was scratched because of his sore left hip and is day to day. 

Oakland will give the ball to right-hander Daniel Mengden on Saturday. Mengden gave up four runs in 5 1/3 innings during a 5-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians in his first start after being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas.

Here are the full lineups for Saturday's A's vs. Tigers game: 

Oakland Athletics (21-25)
Marcus Semien, SS
Mark Canha, 1B
Matt Chapman, 3B
Stephen Piscotty, DH
Chad Pinder, RF
Robbie Grossman, LF
Ramon Laureano, CF
Jurickson Profar, 2B
Nick Hundley, C

Daniel Mengden, RHP (0-1, 6.75 ERA)

[RELATED: Olson's power hasn't been affected by hand surgery]

Detroit Tigers (18-25)
Josh Harrison, 2B
Dawal Lugo, 3B
Nicholas Castellanos, RF
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Ronny Rodriguez, SS
Christin Stewart, LF
Brandon Dixon, DH
Grayson Greiner, C
JaCoby Jones, CF

Matthew Boyd, LHP (4-3, 3.15 ERA)

Newest A's additions could be one reason for early season struggles

Newest A's additions could be one reason for early season struggles

Last season, it seemed like every new player the A's brought in was a perfect fit.

From Nick Martini and Edwin Jackson to Mike Fiers and Shawn Kelley, each new acquisition added an important dimension to the team. Not surprisingly, A's executive vice president Billy Beane was named MLB's Executive of the Year for his efforts.

This season has been a completely different story, however. Newcomers Jurickson Profar, Kendrys Morales, Robbie Grossman, and Nick Hundley are all off to slow starts, as are Joakim Soria and Marco Estrada. If the A's are going to get back on track, they will need contributions from at least some of these players.

Profar was probably the biggest addition over the offseason but he has struggled mightily both offensively and defensively. At the plate, Profar is hitting just .165, tied for the fifth-worst batting average in the majors among qualified hitters. His .495 OPS is sixth-worst.

Profar's defensive nightmares have been well documented, as the Oakland second baseman has already committed seven errors. His -1.2 WAR is the second-worst in all of baseball.

Morales came over from Toronto after Matt Olson injured his hand to try to help fill the void at first base. But the 35-year-old has had a rough go of it, batting a lowly .154 with a .477 OPS. Fortunately for the A's, Olson is close to returning. His bat will be a welcome addition to a struggling lineup.

Grossman has been a little better, slashing .210/.312/.358, but he's still well under last year's slash line of .273/.367/.384. The same is true of Hundley, whose .190/.227/.214 slash line is far below his past four seasons.

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On the mound, Estrada and Soria were supposed to be major contributors, but both are off to disappointing starts. Estrada went 0-2 with a 6.85 ERA in five starts before heading to the injured list with a back injury. Soria is 0-2 with a 6.28 ERA in 16 appearances.

Obviously, this group is not the only reason for Oakland's early season struggles, but they have certainly not helped. Sometimes it takes time for players to feel comfortable in a new organization, but we're now more than a month into the season. The A's need a lot more from all of them.