Dan Straily Pitches Well But A’s Offense Sputters Again in 2-0 Loss to Angels

The A’s offense was stymied again on Saturday, as Oakland couldn’t answer C.J. Wilson en route to a 2-0 loss in the second game of this weekend series. Oakland has now scored one run through two games leading off the post-All-Star break portion of the 2013 season.

Yoenis Cespedes sat out his second consecutive game with a sore left wrist – although the team maintains it has nothing to do with the Home Run Derby (more on that at the bottom of this recap).

The A’s made some solid contact against Wilson in the first: after he made quick work of Coco Crisp and Chris Young (on a hard line drive to third), Jed Lowrie lined a double down the right field line, bringing up Josh Donaldson in a run-scoring situation – but he grounded out to Howie Kendrick at second to end the inning.

After Mike Trout reached first on an HBP, Albert Pujols lined a single to right field, bringing up Josh Hamilton with runners on the corners and only one out – and he brought in Trout with a sacrifice fly to left field, giving the Angels an early 1-0 lead.

Oakland got a leadoff single from Nate Freiman in the second but Wilson struck out Derek Norris, Josh Reddick and Brandon Moss (thanks to some high strike calls from HP ump Phil Cuzzi) to finesse his way out of danger.

Straily put a runner on third with two outs in the bottom of the inning after Mark Trumbo singled, advanced to second on a grounder from Alberto Callaspo and third on a fly out from Hank Conger, but Erick Aybar flew out to Crisp in center for the third out.

The A’s didn’t do much of anything against Wilson in the third or fourth (as Wilson continued to pump in strikes, throwing 30 in his first 39 pitches). Straily did his best to keep the game at 1-0, allowing a few stray singles but finishing the fourth by striking out Conger, stranding a runner on first.

After retiring Norris on a nine-pitch at-bat (that was easily the strongest any A’s hitter had put together in the game to that point), Wilson sailed through the fifth (striking out Reddick and Moss for a second time), and only needed 62 pitches to get through the first five innings of the game. To put his efficiency in perspective:

In the bottom of the sixth, Straily allowed a one-out single to Kendrick but Mark Trumbo bounced into an inning-ending double play made possible thanks to a brilliant play by Green at second.

With two outs in the seventh, Freiman launched a deep fly to left, but it fell into J.B. Shuck’s glove at the warning track – the 18th consecutive A’s hitter retired by Wilson.

Alberto Callaspo led off the bottom of the inning with a line drive home run into the right field pavilion, increasing the Angels’ lead to 2-0, a seemingly insurmountable lead for the Angels, considering the A’s offensive struggles for the first seven innings.

A strong at bat from Derek Norris (his second of the night) resulted in a walk leading off the eighth, snapping Wilson’s streak of 18 consecutive retired A’s hitters. Wilson then struck out Reddick on a 3-2 count for the first out of the inning. Moss walked on four pitches, putting things in the hands of Grant Green, currently 0-11 with six strikeouts in his young career.

Green flew out to deep right-center for the second out of the inning, bringing up Crisp with runners on the corners and two outs – but he popped out to Aybar to end the inning without any runs scoring.

Sean Doolittle relieved Straily in the eighth, closing the book on Straily’s strong outing: 7 IP 8 H 2 ER 0 BB 4 K. Doolittle worked a quick, solid inning, keeping the Angels at bay.

Wilson began the ninth at 111 pitches, and after retiring Chris Young on an infield pop Jed Lowrie singled to left, prompting Mike Scioscia to bring in closer Ernesto Frieri to face Donaldson. Frieri challenged Donaldson with three mid-90s fastballs, but he couldn’t catch up, striking out and leaving things up to Seth Smith – who walked. John Jaso then pinch-hit for Norris and struck out on three fastballs, fizzling out any hopes of an A’s rally and securing the Angels’ win.

With the loss, Oakland falls to 56-41 but remains two games ahead of the Rangers in the A.L. West (as Baltimore beat Texas earlier in the night).

Tomorrow afternoon, the A’s will hope to avoid the sweep when Bartolo Colon (12-3, 2.70 ERA) matches up against Jerome Williams (5-5, 4.60 ERA) at 12:35 PDT.

Note:

  • Before the game, A’s manager Bob Melvin reiterated that Cespedes’ wrist soreness was unrelated to his participation in the Home Run Derby last week – adding that the outfielder felt ‘better’ today than he did on Friday night.
  • When asked about the recent struggles of Jerry Blevins (he’s allowed seven runs in his past eight outings, while hitters are hitting .450 against him),