A's optimistic despite painful loss in Detroit

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A's optimistic despite painful loss in Detroit

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DETROIT -- The 2012 Oakland Athletics have been a resilient bunch. They have managed to deflect several seemingly debilitating blows this season and continue on uninterrupted while landing a solid counterpunch. After losing Brandon McCarthy, Bartolo Colon, and now Brett Anderson to injury, they aren't down for the count, but they might have a tough time lasting much longer.
Anderson left the game after 48 pitches in the third inning with a right oblique strain. For a team that at one point had an embarrassment of pitching riches, they will be scraping to get by for the rest of the season. On Wednesday the A's lost their starting pitcher and the ballgame 6-2. It was their third consecutive loss.
RECAP: Tigers 6, A's 2
"You just have to get through it," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "You are never going to speed right through and win every game. There's going to be tough spots you have to work through."Anderson left the game after falling forward in his follow-through on a 2-2 pitch. He had already allowed two runs, and a third run was charged to him when one of the runners on base when he exited ended up scoring. Melvin said that Anderson was a little bit tight entering the inning.
NEWS: Anderson exits with oblique strain
"We could see a couple pitches where he was kind of stretching his back," Melvin said. "On the one he fell I am not sure it affected him that he needed to fall.""He said he tweaked his oblique a few pitches before and didn't know if it was anything," catcher Derek Norris added. "He threw a couple more pitches and said it just didn't feel right." The first two batters in the third inning reached base on back-to-back bunt singles up the first base line. It looked like Detroit manager Jim Leyland was exploiting a weakness of Anderson's. It doesn't appear the attempts to field the bunts is what hurt him. Travis Blackley will jump into the rotation. That decision was actually predetermined though, and had nothing to do with Anderson's injury. The team decided they wanted Blackley on the mound in New York against the Yankees on Saturday instead of Dan Straily who was scheduled to pitch that day. Straily will fill Anderson's spot in the rotation assuming the oblique injury keeps him out. "We just felt like matchup-wise that was the right thing to do," Melvin said. "We talked to both of those guys."Blackley is 4-3 with a 3.97 ERA in 12 starting assignments. He says he is already getting mentally prepared to pitch in a big September game in Yankee Stadium."I'm psyched about it," Blackley said. "It's good to know you can be trusted and to take the reigns when needed. I'm trying to treat it like any other game and try to get outs." "As a kid growing up that was who you pictured yourself pitching against, the Yankees," Blackley added. "It's going to be one of those dreams come true again. I look forward to it." If the Anderson situation wasn't difficult enough to overcome the A's hitters had to face the reigning American League MVP and Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander. The A's offense managed to get get on base in each of the six innings he pitched, and had two runners reach in each of the first three innings, but couldn't get the big hit when they needed it. "It's kind of his M.O. when he gets in trouble. He reaches back and kicks it into a different gear," Derek Norris said. "Whenever he needed to make a pitch, he made it, and whenever the defense needed to make a play, they made it. That's just how it goes sometimes." The A's left seven on base against the Tigers' ace, but were able to run up his pitch count and get him out of the game with 122 pitches through six innings of work."We did good about getting his pitch count up and getting him out of the game," Brandon Moss said. "We just weren't able to do anything against their bullpen."After Verlander exited the game, the A's still struggled to score. They missed out on a big opportunity when Seth Smith hit a leadoff double in the eighth inning. He ended up stranded on second base. Smith was also part of a base running mishap in the first inning when he got caught in a rundown between second and third after a Yoenis Cespedes single. The A's ended up rallying for two runs off Jose Valverde in the ninth inning but it was too little, too late.With the loss of Anderson, and the losses in the standings, the A's haven't exactly gotten off to an ideal start to their 10-game road trip. They say despite how it looks, it isn't time to panic yet.
RELATED: MLB standings
"Teams go through skids, we're having a little one right now," Blackley said. "We've done it all year, we've stayed in the race when people said we were going to fall out." Anderson would have been able to make three more starts before season's end. Similar to the loss of the other starting pitchers, the team will have to find a way to absorb the blow. With just 14 games left to play they won't have time to sulk. "We've got some injured guys and Coco Crisp out, potential Brett out," Melvin said. "Some of the guys are going to have to pick it up."There were no postgame updates on Crisp as he continues deals with pink eye in both of his eyes. A lot is made of how important Cespedes is to the team, but the A's are 62-43 when Crisp starts and 22-21 when he doesn't. The A's will have a chance to salvage a win in the series in a day game on Thursday. A win would provide some much-needed momentum before taking on the Yankees in New York on Friday.

Reddick gets best of old roommate Healy, and the A's

Reddick gets best of old roommate Healy, and the A's

HOUSTON — Enduring a five-game losing streak is tough enough on its own.

Watching a former teammate play a part in prolonging the misery is worse.

Josh Reddick wasn’t the most dominant player on the field Friday for the Astros, but he picked his spots to make his presence felt, and that added a little salt to the wound for the A’s in a 9-4 defeat that was their fifth in a row. They’ve now lost 10 straight times to Houston.

Reddick was mad at himself after not making the play on Ryon Healy’s double in the sixth inning. He got another chance in the eighth and robbed his former roommate with a terrific catch as he slammed into the wall to end the inning. That stranded two runners and preserved what was a 7-4 lead at the time.

“Any time you’re playing against your former team you wanna do well against them. Beating them makes it a little bit sweeter,” Reddick said. “But when you can make a catch against a guy you became pretty good buddies with in a tight situation, it adds more to that.”

After Healy got his first big league call-up last July, and before the A’s traded Reddick to the Dodgers on Aug. 1, Reddick invited the rookie to move into his house as he cut his teeth in the bigs.

“I’m going to be giving Ryon a lot of crap, I guess you could say,” Reddick said afterward. “He gave me a little signal and finger wave and shook his head on the (double). I got him back and a little bit of payback.”

Reddick, who signed a four-year $52 million free agent deal with Houston in the offseason, was a pest to the A’s in more unconventional ways too. Twice he reached base on catcher’s interference calls when his bat hit the mitt of Stephen Vogt, another of Reddick’s closest friends on the A’s. It happened in the bottom of the first and contributed to the Astros’ three-run rally that tied the game off Jharel Cotton after the A’s had grabbed a 3-0 lead on Khris Davis’ three-run homer.

Vogt talked about both interference plays with mild disgust, more upset with the situation itself than Reddick personally.

“Typically I’m pretty far back behind the batter," Vogt said. “Reddick, I guess, has a pretty long swing when he’s trying to go the other way. … It’s just one of those freak things that obviously I’m not real thrilled about. It’s just frustrating. You don’t see it very often. It’s not really how you swing the bat typically, but he does a good job going the other way, and it’s on me. I’ve gotta make sure I’m far enough back and not reaching for the ball.”

As for Reddick’s important catch in the eighth, Vogt said:

“It’s hard to see him in a different uniform, and I know he loved it here as well. It’s hard to see him playing against us 19 times. To see him making catches like that, it’s not very much fun when he’s not wearing green.”

However, the A’s have more pressing issues than getting stung by old friends. They’ve struck out 57 times over the past five games, and with each day that passes, it’s increasingly clear how much they miss the speed and playmaking ability of center fielder Rajai Davis, as well as the offensive production of shortstop Marcus Semien. Both are on the disabled list, Davis for the short term with a strained hamstring and Semien likely for a couple of months due to wrist surgery.

Cotton wasn’t sharp, allowing a career-high 10 hits and failing to protect two early leads he was given. Those are the growing pains that will come for a rookie pitcher. What the A’s can’t afford are three-error nights like they had Friday and continuing to whiff at their current rate.

“When we went through our winning streak, we played real clean games, and now we’re a little shoddy,” manager Bob Melvin said. “There’s a psychological play that goes with that. When you’re not making plays and giving extra outs, it makes it tougher on pitchers and tougher mentally.”

Instant Replay: Davis goes deep twice, but A's get sloppy in loss to Astros

Instant Replay: Davis goes deep twice, but A's get sloppy in loss to Astros

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HOUSTON – Khris Davis’ heroics only stretch so far.

The A’s slugger did all he could to keep his team in Friday night’s game, slamming two homers and driving in four runs, but it wasn’t enough as Oakland fell 9-4 in the opener of a three-game series against the Astros, who have won 10 in a row over Oakland.

That’s five losses in a row for the A’s, who got off to the kind of start Friday that suggested they might break back into the win column. With two aboard, Davis lit into a pitch from Charlie Morton and drove a three-run homer to right-center in the first.

But the early offense wasn’t enough to boost A’s starter Jharel Cotton, who gave up a career-high 10 hits and six runs over 4 1/3 innings. Only three of the runs were earned, due to three A’s errors, including a bizarre two catchers’ interference calls on Stephen Vogt, both with former teammate Josh Reddick batting.

Nevertheless, Cotton gave up too much hard contact. Davis’ second homer, a solo shot to right in the third, put the A’s ahead 4-3, but the Astros would come back to tie it in the fourth and take the lead for good with two runs in the fifth to send them on their way.

Morton struck out a career-high 12 over seven innings. All told, the A’s whiffed a total of 14 times, giving them a staggering 57 strikeouts over the past five games alone. Carlos Correa, Evan Gattis and Yuli Gurriel all drove in two runs for the American League West-leading Astros.

Starting pitching report

Cotton (2-3) heaved 30 pitches in a three-run first that had to be frustrating for him. It included the first of two catchers’ interference calls with Reddick batting. Cotton also got called for a balk when the ball slipped out of his hands while he was on the mound. With two outs, Carlos Beltran beat out an RBI infield single to the left side. Then Gurriel singled home a run and Gattis lofted a fly ball down the right field line that landed just fair and went for a run-scoring ground rule double. Cotton was trying to keep it a tie game in the fifth when Gattis got to him for an RBI single past Adam Rosales at shortstop to put Houston ahead 5-4.

Bullpen report

Cesar Valdez gave up three runs over three innings, as the Astros padded their lead in the late going.

At the plate

Davis’ two homers gives the A’s 29 for the month of April, the most they’ve hit in April since 2006, when they had 34. But the strikeouts are a mounting problem, and the A’s need to start finding more consistent sources of offense.

In the field

Reddick hurt the A’s with two hits and reached base four times overall, as he became just the seventh player in major league history to reach twice in one game on catcher’s infernece. But he also made an outstanding catch in right to rob Ryon Healy with two aboard in the eighth.

Attendance

The announced turnout was 28,472.

Up next

Andrew Triggs (3-1, 2.42) will look to rebound from a shaky start against Seattle, and he’ll be opposed by Joe Musgrove (1-1, 5.91) in Saturday’s 4:10 p.m. game.