OAKLAND – Not what the A’s had in mind for a prime-time audience.
Hosting their first nationally televised Sunday night game in nine years, the A’s got pounded 9-4 by the Los Angeles Angels and were denied a sweep in this three-game series between the major leagues’ top two teams.
Starting pitcher Scott Kazmir didn’t stick around long, getting rocked for 10 hits and seven runs (both tying his season high) in just three-plus innings.
Angels starter Jered Weaver (14-7), meanwhile, didn’t provide the A’s much hope they could jump back in this one, as he held them to two runs over 6 2/3 innings and struck out eight.
In the big picture, the A’s can call the weekend a success. They took two out of three and gained a game on the Angels from where things stood when the series began. They trail Los Angeles by one game for first place as they head to Houston for three games, with a four-game rematch looming against the Angels down south beginning Thursday.
But a sweep would have put the A’s in sole possession of first and kept them undefeated against the Angels in Oakland this season, and that would have been a nice psychological edge to call upon when these teams meet at the Coliseum for the final time Sept. 22-24.
Starting pitching report
Kazmir (14-6) breezed through a six-pitch first inning with help from a double play. From that point on he was hit hard and often. Eric Aybar began the scoring with a two-run double off the wall that center fielder Sam Fuld couldn’t haul in on a leaping attempt. Then Kole Calhoun flaired a two-out double that dropped inside the left-field line and scored Aybar to make it 3-0.
Pujols led off the third with a single to left and then cleanup man Josh Hamilton drilled a 1-1 pitch over the right field wall to make it 5-0. The fact that Hamilton seems to be finding his stroke is good for the Angels, bad for the A’s. He’s now 6-for-16 with eight RBI in his past four games.
Kazmir gave up singles to Calhoun and Mike Trout to start the fourth before manager Bob Melvin called for the bullpen.
After posting a 2.08 ERA over his first 15 starts, Kazmir has now pitched to a 4.57 ERA over his last 11 outings. He’s also got to figure out a way to solve the Angels. Over six career starts against them, the lefty is 2-4 with a 6.19 ERA (22 ER in 32 IP).
Kazmir’s short night necessitated Melvin going to his bullpen early, and the fact that Chavez threw three innings and 41 pitches could very well take him out of the running to spot-start Wednesday’s game at Houston, as it appears the A’s are looking to push Sonny Gray back a day so he can pitch Thursday against the Angels in Anaheim.
It would appear that left-hander Drew Pomeranz, who last pitched Thursday for Triple-A Sacramento, is the leading candidate to make Wednesday’s start if the A’s do indeed push Gray back.
At the plate
It was the seventh inning before the A’s started making any noise offensively, and by then they were trailing 9-0. Alberto Callaspo connected for a two-run home run and Andy Parrino went deep for a solo shot. But where were the middle-of-the-order bats this series? For the three games, Oakland’s Nos. 3-4-5 hitters went a combined 5-for-32 with zero RBI.
In the field
On Aybar’s two-run double that opened the scoring, the ball actually appeared to fall under Fuld’s glove on his leaping attempt against the wall. But it would have been a sensational play had he come down with it.
The A’s did manage to play an errorless ballgame.
Another sellout crowd of 36,067 was on hand.
The A’s return to Houston for the second time in a month, looking to avenge a late-July series where they lost two of three at Minute Maid Park. Jeff Samardzija (3-3, 4.07) and Scott Feldman (7-9, 4.37) match up in Monday’s 5:10 p.m opener. Tuesday – Jason Hammel (1-5, 6.75) vs. Dallas Keuchel (10-9, 3.12), 5:10 p.m. Wednesday – TBA vs. Brad Peacock (3-8, 5.30), 5:10 p.m. All three games will air on Comcast SportsNet California.