ANAHEIM – At this point, the A’s have got to be eyeing the nearest exit out of Angel Stadium.
This four-game series, taking place just down the street from the Happiest Place On Earth, has been a nightmare so far for the green and gold. They were shut out for the second night in a row by the Los Angeles Angels, 2-0, and they’ve now gone 22 consecutive innings without scoring a run, dating back to Thursday’s series opener.
On Saturday, the Angels went unorthodox on the mound. They used a committee of eight relievers to eat up all nine innings, and that conga line of hurlers limited the A’s to just three hits for the entire game.
According to the Orange County Register, it was the first time the Angels ever used as many as eight pitchers in a nine-inning game.
There’s still one game remaining in their four-day Anaheim residence, and they’ll try to avoid a sweep Sunday afternoon behind Scott Kazmir. Oakland fell four games behind the Angels in the American League West, their biggest deficit since they were 4 ½ behind on May 26, 2013.
Starting pitching report
Can’t blame Jeff SAmardzija too much for this one. He went eight innings and allowed just four hits, though he threw a wild pitch that allowed one of the runs to score.
It was a night off for A’s relievers, not that this one could have been much fun to watch.
At the plate
The Angels are supposed to be struggling to find a replacement for injured ace Garrett Richards. On Saturday, they used a parade of relievers in Richards’ rotation spot, and Oakland hitters still remained tied up in knots.
Cory Rasmus took the mound for his first major league start and struck out six A’s over three innings. Seven relievers followed him, none pitching more than one inning, but they all effectively kept the A’s bottled up.
Oakland has mustered just three runs in the first 28 innings of this series.
Their best opportunity to score came in the top of the fourth, when they had runners at second and third with no outs. Brandon Moss struck out swinging, then Derek Norris walked to load the bases. Then some rare early-game strategy ensued as A’s manager Bob Melvin inserted Jonny Gomes to pinch-hit for Josh Reddick. Angels manager Mike Scioscia countered by replacing lefty Michael Roth with right-hander Yoslan Herrera. Gomes got jammed and blooped one over the pitcher’s mound, where second baseman Howie Kendrick was waiting. He stepped on the bag and threw to first for an inning-ending double play, summing up Oakland’s recent offense in a nutshell.
In the field
The A’s hitting woes have been a steady struggle that have played out over several weeks. The defensive lapses are more sudden and unpredictable, and they bit the A’s in the fourth inning of a scoreless game.
Shortstop Eric Sogard charged Howie Kendrick’s bouncer and had it clank off his glove for his second error in as many days. That put runners on first and second with one out. Erick Aybar followed with an RBI single through the right side. Right fielder Sam Fuld hesitated to get the ball back to the infield, then threw late to third base, which allowed Aybar to advance to second. With Kendrick at third, Samardzija uncorked a wild pitch that was way wide of the plate. He covered home and it seemed the A’s might have a chance to get Kendrick, but catcher Derek Norris’ throw was nowhere near the vicinity of the plate, and the Angels had a 2-0 lead.
The announced turnout was 44,018.
Scott Kazmir (14-6, 3.08) takes the ball in the series finale, hoping that this Sunday treats him better than last Sunday did. The lefty gave up seven runs in three innings to the Angels in Oakland, and the hope is that an extra day’s rest will have him ready to go. He’ll oppose Matt Shoemaker (13-4, 3.33) in a 12:35 p.m. game.