ANAHEIM – The A’s don’t know the exact status of center fielder Coco Crisp, who left Friday’s game with another neck injury.
But they do know the concrete reality facing them after dropping the first two of this four-game showdown with the Los Angeles Angels. The A’s simply aren’t scoring enough runs right now to beat anybody on a consistent basis, let alone the best team record-wise in the major leagues.
They were blanked on five hits in Friday’s 4-0 loss to the Angels and dropped a season-high three games out of first place in the American League West. From here, the A’s can still steady themselves this weekend, take the final two games at Angel Stadium and leave right back where they were when they arrived – one game out. They could win one of two and head back to the Bay Area three games out, or they could be swept and fall five games back.
Not that they can afford to think two games ahead. They need to come out Saturday night behind Jeff Samardzija and play one solid game in all phases, which they didn’t do Friday before a crowd of 41,177.
They advanced just one runner as far as third base. They committed two errors in the sixth behind Jon Lester that contributed to one of the Angels’ runs. Lester was decent – two earned runs over six innings – but even he seemed frustrated with himself at times and frustrated with the strike zone.
“We’re not getting all the results we want right now,” Lester said. “We’re just not putting consistent games together on both sides of the ball.”
The A’s are 6-12 over their past 18 games, watching a four-game division lead turn into a three-game deficit. Engineering a turnaround will be more difficult if Crisp – Oakland’s leadoff man and offensive catalyst -- is lost for any period of time. He suffered a neck strain when he crashed hard into the wall in left-center while nearly making a magnificent catch on Chris Iannetta’s two-run homer in the fifth.
He is listed as day-to-day, and manager Bob Melvin said more will be known about his condition Saturday. Any problem with the neck raises concerns with Crisp, as he experienced lingering problems after straining his neck previously in a collision with the wall back in May.
“We were worried that maybe it was a concussion but it wasn’t,” Melvin said. “It’s his neck. We’ve had to deal with that here, and we’re going to have to deal with it again.”
Crisp, who declined to discuss his injury status as usual, said he wasn’t certain if the ball was in his glove as he bounced off the wall. Had Crisp completed the catch, Lester said it would have been the greatest he had seen.
“I knew I could catch it, and I caught it,” Crisp said. “But as soon as I hit the wall, the momentum, the ball just kind of slung out of there.”
Friday’s loss left the A’s 12-15 in August, guaranteeing their first losing month since May 2012. That 14-month streak of consecutive winning months was the longest in Oakland history. Oakland is averaging 3.77 runs per game this month. Compare that with 5.48 runs in April, 5.07 in May, 5.08 in June and 4.52 in July.
“I think for myself and the other guys, there’s that little extra, ‘I gotta get it done right here,’” first baseman Stephen Vogt said. “We’re just trying to do a little bit too much this whole month. Because, obviously, we know where we’re at. We know what’s going on. And everybody wants to step up and do their part, when really we just need to be ourselves.”
It’s hard to ignore that the start of August coincided with the trade of All-Star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to Boston (in exchange for Lester and Jonny Gomes). No player is using that as an excuse, but Vogt spoke frankly about the adjustment that takes place after any roster shakeup.
“This has been a month of adjustments in this clubhouse, and anybody that doesn’t believe that isn’t telling the truth,” he said. “But they’re good adjustments. They’re not necessarily negative adjustments. It’s just that it’s different. It is a different clubhouse. And anytime you get that at the trade deadline, it’s gonna take some getting used to. But it’s all positive, it’s not negative. It just takes time to get used to it.”