ANAHEIM – Their anemic offensive display was enough of a downer Friday night, but the A’s had more bad news to digest than dropping another game in the standings.
Center fielder Coco Crisp left a 4-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels in the bottom of the fifth after crashing violently into the outfield wall while going after Chris Iannetta’s two-run homer. He walked off the field under his own power, but any time Crisp goes hard into the wall – and he has often -- it’s cause for concern.
He was diagnosed with a strained neck Friday, the same injury that caused him to miss lots of games off and on after he slammed into the wall while making a catch at the Coliseum in early May.
Crisp nearly pulled off a marvelous catch of Iannetta’s drive – replays showed that the ball was in his glove and popped out as his arm was extended over the wall. It was a good sight to see him walking off the field OK considering the impact of his collision, but the A’s can ill afford to lose their center fielder and catalyst from the leadoff spot, especially considering the state of their offense.
They were blanked on five hits Friday by Jered Weaver (15-7) and two relievers, and they’ve now lost the first two of this four-game series against the American League West-leading Angels. They’ve dropped to three games out of first place, their largest deficit in the division since they were three behind Texas on Aug. 29 of last season, exactly a year to the day of Friday’s defeat.
Starting pitching report
Jon Lester (13-9) gave up three runs (two earned) over six innings, and it was a frustrating outing for the lefty. He appeared to get squeezed on a few pitches by home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi, including during Iannetta’s at-bat before the homer. He shouted at himself after missing on one pitch in the third and could be heard from the press box.
Down 2-0 in the sixth, he had the bases loaded and two outs and issued a walk to Iannetta on a full-count pitch that forced in a third run. But that inning included two errors and a bunt single from Erick Aybar. Howie Kendrick’s hard shot to third ate up Josh Donaldson (it was a single that was later changed to an error). Then Lester should have been out of the inning with no runs, but shortstop Eric Sogard airmailed a throw to first that hit off the A’s dugout and allowed runners to advance an extra base.
Evan Scribner relieved Lester in the seventh for his first outing since being recalled from the minors, and he gave up Albert Pujols’ 24th home run of the season to make it a 4-0 game.
At the plate
What can be said that hasn’t already been said about the A’s scuffling offense?
They’re averaging just 3.4 runs over their past 15 games, but what’s most troubling is how easily they seem to be giving away so many of their at-bats, and that’s the opposite of what Oakland hitters were doing over the first half of the season. There just wasn’t a lot of hard contact on Friday night, and three of their five hits came with two outs and nobody on base.
Trailing 2-0 in the sixth, they did manage to load the bases with help from a walk and hit baseman by Weaver. But Josh Reddick flied out to left to end that threat.
In the field
Crisp’s effort on Iannetta’s homer was a highlight-reel play even if he didn’t come up with the catch.
But the A’s defense abandoned them in the sixth, and it contributed to a run that they could ill afford to give up given the state of their offense right now.
A crowd of 41,177 was on hand.
Jeff Samardzija (4-3, 3.86) will take the mound for the A’s on Saturday night, but the Angels still haven’t announced their starter. The speculation is that right-handed reliever Cory Rasmus might start and a committee of relievers will follow him. If it’s not Rasmus, left-hander Michael Roth appears the other candidate. First pitch is 6:05 p.m.