Rewind: No explaining A's perplexing offensive ways

Rewind: No explaining A's perplexing offensive ways
August 13, 2014, 8:45 pm

Shortstop Jed Lowrie had one of three hits for the A's on Wednesday night. (USATSI)

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The A’s just got blanked in a 2-hour, 6-minute gem orchestrated by Royals left-hander Jason Vargas.

About the best news we can deliver is that the game was over before many A’s fans got home from work, so perhaps you were spared having to witness it.

There’s not a whole lot to analyze from this 3-0 defeat. After a leadoff single from Jed Lowrie in the top of the second, Vargas retired 23 batters in a row to close out his three-hitter.

[INSTANT REPLAY: A's shut out by Vargas, Royals]

The A’s can be a perplexing bunch, banging out 20 hits in an 11-3 victory Tuesday, and then getting thoroughly dominated 24 hours later.

But that’s what separates baseball from other sports. All it takes is a starting pitcher who is dialed in, and the offensive momentum from the night before simply vanishes.

Lefty Scott Kazmir needed to be perfect to keep the A’s in this one, and he wasn’t. He fell behind Omar Infante 2-0 in the third and had to pipe a fastball, and Infante pounded it for a two-run homer.

But if you want to dive beneath the surface and analyze this one deeper, you could point out that the Royals are simply a better “small ball” team than the A’s. In the bottom of the fifth, Christian Colon dropped a bunt single to the left side. Nori Aoki sacrificed him to second, and Infante beat out an infield single to shortstop. Then Salvador Perez lofted a sacrifice fly to right, and the Royals had manufactured themselves a run to make it 3-0.

The A’s, who still lead the majors in runs scored, aren’t a team that typically gets rallies going by dropping one down. They generally work deep into counts, take their walks and take their hacks. It worked Tuesday, didn’t work so well Wednesday.

As the A’s look to salvage a split in this four-game series, their task doesn’t appear to get any easier with James Shields on the mound for Thursday’s matinee. Shields held them to four hits over eight innings in a 4-2 Royals victory on Aug. 3 at the Coliseum, a game in which two Josh Reddick home runs accounted for all of Oakland’s offense.

The A’s will counter with Jeff Samardzija. He’s 3-1 with a 3.08 ERA in seven starts since coming over from the Chicago Cubs, though it’s worth noting that Oakland is 6-1 in those games.

Can the A’s leave Kansas City with a split? That depends on what they have in store offensively. They scraped together just three hits in Monday’s 3-2 loss in the series opener. Then 20 hits Tuesday, and three hits again Wednesday night.

That pattern would seem to suggest good things for Thursday, but no one ever accuses the A’s of being predictable.

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