With the flurry of trades, acquisitions and other moves Billy Beane routinely makes each season, it is no surprise that there are a massive amount of players in the MLB that have at one time or another been on the A’s roster. It is unorthodox, however, that these former Athletics always seem to put a pounding on their former club.
Sunday was no different, as Kurt Suzuki (OAK, 2007-12) and Josh Willingham (OAK, 2011) led a late -inning barrage of runs to spoil Jason Hammel’s second consecutive quality start as the A’s eventually lost 6-1.
After a nightmare of a start with the A’s since being brought over from the Cubs (0-4, 9.53), Hammel earned a no-decision on the afternoon and has allowed just one run over his past twelve innings pitched.
“I had a better feel for my slider today, that’s my out pitch,” said Hammel. “I was able to get some strikeouts today, and that’s a good sign for things to come.”
“His slider is the pitch that’s going to get him back where he’s supposed to be,” added John Jaso. “I wanted to keep him smooth and throwing with conviction instead of aiming his pitches.”
The A’s bullpen, which had been superhuman over the past few weeks allowing zero runs over a span of 29.2 innings dating back to July 28, has shown signs of mortality the past two games. Dan Otero broke the streak in a blowout victory Saturday night, and Luke Gregerson allowed 3 runs after taking over a tie-game in the eighth.
The A’s had no one to blame but themselves for the lack of runs Sunday, despite putting runners on base the Oakland lineup was just (1-8) with runners in scoring position. Usually the A’s thrive in late-inning heroics during close ball games, but there was no hero to step up this time.
“That’s what decides these close games in the late inning, finding a hit with runners in scoring position,” said Bob Melvin. “We’ve been pretty good at that over the course of the season, it just didn’t happen today.”
The loss to the Twins breaks a 12-game winning streak that Oakland had against Minnesota dating back to September 2013.
Scoreboard watching: Another former A’s player had no problem coming up with a clutch hit to help his new team win, however Yoenis Cespedes’ game-winning home run for the Red Sox also helped the A’s by preventing the Angels from winning.
With both AL west powerhouses losing on the day, Oakland remains 4-games up in the division.
Next up for the A’s will be a seven-game road trip to Kansas City and Atlanta. Sonny Gray (12-5, 2.87) will look to get the A’s back in the win column Monday evening against flame-throwing rookie Yordano Ventura (9-8, 3.47) and the Royals. First pitch is scheduled for 5:10 PST.