Programming note: A's-Blue Jays coverage starts Friday at 3:30 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California (Channel Locations)
With one swing of the bat, Tampa Bay’s Sean Rodriguez hit the pause button on the A’s good times.
The way things have been rolling for Oakland, and specifically reliever Dan Otero, you expected Thursday to bring another dramatic victory.
It definitely was set up for that scenario, but the Rays got to Otero for the tying run in the bottom of the 11th, then Rodriguez blasted a game-winning three-run homer off Luke Gregerson to sink the A’s 5-2 and halt their five-game winning streak.
The A’s (30-17) haven’t lost often lately, but when they do, they manage to pack an emotional wallop. Thursday’s defeat was a heartbreaker. Back on May 14, their last defeat before their five-game win streak began, Jose Abreu hit a three-run homer off Gregerson to dash their hopes in a 4-2 loss that ended a six-game winning streak. Go back to May 7, their previous loss before that one, and they fell in 10 innings, 6-4, to Seattle in the opener of a doubleheader. Yes, Gregerson surrendered a game-tying single in that one too.
The bright side is the A’s have proven their toughness in bouncing back from these deflating losses. They’ll get the chance to do so again when they open a three-game series Friday at Toronto, having lost for just the second time in 13 games.
Otero was coming off eight scoreless outings in a row when he took the mound Thursday. He handled the 10th and then came out to try to protect a 2-1 lead in the 11th only because closer Sean Doolittle had pitched each of the previous two nights and needed a break.
Otero wound up taking the first loss of his Major League career, in his 66th appearance. But to pin Thursday’s defeat solely on the relief corps would be wrong. After arriving in Florida on a tear offensively, the A’s hitting went missing in the sterile environment of Tropicana Field.
They mustered just 14 hits for the entire three-game series, and that won’t get it done no matter what kind of roll a team finds itself on.
But Thursday’s loss hardly knocks this team off course. At 30-17, they maintain the majors’ best record. And win or lose, they sure don’t skimp on the drama.