OAKLAND – The built-in excuse was available, but Jarrod Parker didn’t grab for it.
The right-hander did not blame his illness for a clunker of an outing in the Oakland A’s 12-1 whipping by the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night. His comments were brief and to the point – they typically are win or lose – and he took responsibility for what was essentially his worst start since mid-April.
“It was one of those things, very little execution, not too many pitches down in the zone,” Parker said in assessing his night. “Even the off-speed was up. Just not a very good game.”
How much did Parker really have in the tank when he took the mound? That’s a pertinent question but a tough one to decipher. He was pitching just a day after a stomach ailment hit him so hard that he was scratched from his scheduled start Sunday.
He was feeling good enough late Sunday that it was decided then he would be able to start Monday. But he obviously was not in top form. He walked his first batter of the game. He fell behind in counts. He left pitches hovering in the strike zone.
Parker was charged with a career-high tying eight runs (seven earned) over 4 1/3 innings, his shortest outing since a 3 2/3-inning effort June 29 that was cut short by a hamstring injury. The eight runs were his most since April 14 against the Tigers.
Asked how much carry-over effect there might have been from his illness, Parker responded:
“I’m not gonna put it on that or make an excuse, but …” his voice trailed off and he shrugged his shoulders.
Parker had been very good for an historically long period. Monday’s defeat snapped his streak of 19 straight starts without a loss. That was an Oakland record and it fell just two short of Lefty Grove’s franchise record of 21 that has stood since 1931.
“It was a good run,” Parker said. “It’s one of those things where all good things come to an end. I guess if you’re gonna do it you might as well just give it up and get it over with.”
His teammates could look at Monday the same way. After winning 16 of their previous 20 to climb a season-high 27 games over .500, the A’s were due for a stinker.
A blowout loss, even one in front of a home crowd that showed up expecting the dominance to continue, isn’t all that damaging if it stops at one game.
The A’s (88-62) still lead the Texas Rangers by 6 ½ games in the American League West with just 12 games to go. Their magic number to clinch the division dropped to seven with Texas’ loss at Tampa Bay.
But Oakland manager Bob Melvin has been preaching that his team can’t take anything for granted. His players have adopted his philosophy in their comments to the media.
Reliever Sean Doolittle was asked before the game if he allows himself thoughts of the postseason with the A’s so close to clinching. As other teammates have done, he referenced last season, when the A’s rallied from five games down with nine to play to shock Texas for the division title.
“I think (playoff matchups) might be in the back of guys’ minds,” Doolittle said. “But we learned so much last year with how things unfolded. I think if you let yourself look ahead, you (just) remember what happened last year.”
If the A’s needed a reminder that there’s unfinished business ahead, they received it courtesy of the Angels.
“A loss is a loss,” Melvin said. “We just got beat up. We didn’t pitch very well, we didn’t swing the bats well and they did both. I don’t think you take anything more from it than that. You just move on.”