The A’s like to believe their starting rotation will provide them a great opportunity to win every time they take the field.
It’s hardly been a lockdown unit of late, however, and on Wednesday the wheels came off big-time for right-hander Jeff Samardzija. He got tagged for seven runs and lasted just 3 2/3 innings in an 8-5 loss to the New York Mets.
With that, the A’s settled for a split in a two-game series that appeared extremely sweep-able. They also missed a chance to build some momentum for a crucial three-game series starting Friday against the Los Angeles Angels, the team that has overtaken them for first place in the American League West.
Samardzija, now 3-3 with a 4.07 ERA in nine starts since he and Jason Hammel came to Oakland in a July 5 trade from the Chicago Cubs, endured his roughest start yet with the A’s. He served up two home runs, including Lucas Duda’s three-run shot in the top of the third. Four of the Mets’ five runs that inning came with two outs.
After the A’s had cut it to 5-2 in the bottom of the third, Samardzija allowed two more runs –- again with two outs -- in the fourth before manager Bob Melvin called for Jesse Chavez.
New York added another run in the fifth off Chavez, and with the A’s mustering just six hits, they were hard-pressed to claw all the way back in this one, even with the Mets contributing three errors to their cause.
Oakland’s starting pitchers are 2-7 with a 5.54 ERA over the last nine games, and though some of those losses can accurately be pinned on the A’s not scoring enough, it’s also fair to say the rotation has shown more cracks than anticipated.
The A’s have now lost eight of their past 10 and fell to one game behind the Angels pending Los Angeles’ game Wednesday night at Boston.
Starting pitching report
Samardzija breezed through the first two innings before trouble hit in the third. He gave up Eric Campbell’s leadoff homer on a 2-0 fastball that was piped down the middle.
He retired the next two hitters, but then Curtis Granderson and Daniel Murphy singled. David Wright walked to load the bases, and Samardzija uncorked a wild pitch in the dirt to bring a run home. Then Duda unloaded on a 2-1 pitch to center for a three-run shot that made it 5-0.
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The two runs Samardzija allowed in the fourth seemed just as damaging given that the A’s scored twice in the bottom of the third to climb within 5-2, and were in need of a shutdown inning. All told, Samardzija allowed seven runs on seven hits and two walks. He’s been torched for 22 hits over his past three starts (16 innings).
Admirable work was turned in from the relievers to keep the game within range. Chavez, Fernando Abad and Dan Otero held the Mets to one run over the final 5 1/3 innings.
At the plate
Trailing 8-4 in the eighth, the A’s had a chance to jump back in it with the bases loaded and one out. Sam Fuld drew a walk to force in a run, but Andy Parrino took a called third strike and Josh Donaldson, who had pinch-hit for No. 9 hitter Eric Sogard in the seventh, grounded to short.
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Coco Crisp and John Jaso both doubled in runs for the A’s in the third, and the A’s lucked into two runs in the fourth when Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy committed a field ing error that scored two.
In the field
It was an adventurous day in the field for New York, while Oakland committed one error.
The announced turnout was 20,312.
The A’s and Angels have 10 head-to-head games remaining, and the first of those take place this weekend at the Coliseum. Friday – Sonny Gray (12-7, 2.99) vs. Hector Santiago (3-7, 3.46), 7:05 p.m. Saturday – Jon Lester (13-8, 2.58) vs. C.J. Wilson (10-8, 4.59), 6:05 p.m. Sunday – Scott Kazmir (14-5, 2.73) vs. Jered Weaver (13-7, 3.70), 5:07 p.m. The first two of those will be televised on Comcast SportsNet California.