ANAHEIM — It could have been a storybook night for Matt Chapman, but he and his A’s teammates were left pondering the plays —and pitches — they didn’t make Friday.
The A’s rookie third baseman, who grew up in nearby Lake Forest, smacked a three-run homer in his first at-bat before a cheering section that he estimated to be a couple hundred strong at Angel Stadium.
All that was needed to finish the night in proper fashion was a victory. Somehow that slipped through the A’s grasp in the form of a bullpen meltdown that saw a four-run lead evaporate in an eventual 8-6 loss to the Angels.
“We made our own bed as far as that one unfortunately,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.
Along with the good, Chapman also played a part in Oakland’s undoing with a two-out error that scored a run in the second inning. In the Angels’ go-ahead rally in the seventh, he couldn’t come up with the handle on Yunel Escobar’s slow roller that went for an RBI single, though he may not have been able to get Escobar even with a clean play.
So terrific has Chapman been with the glove since his call-up from Triple-A that it’s a bit of a shocker to see him muff a play or two.
“I think those are both plays that I expect myself to make,” Chapman said. “It’s never a good feeling when you feel like you missed a play you could make and it ends up costing your team some runs and you lose a tight ballgame.”
But the game turned when reliever Daniel Coulombe, who’s taken on a more prominent bullpen role following the trade of fellow lefty Sean Doolittle, walked three in a row to begin the bottom of the seventh and the A’s leading 6-4.
That opened the gates to a four-run Angels’ rally.
“I don’t know,” Coulombe said in a hushed tone at his locker. “I think it was just one of those nights. You’re going to have those nights. (But) you really hope to not have those very often.”
Center fielder Jaycob Brugman made a splendid diving catch but also committed an error that set up an Angels run. And Melvin referenced “a couple of bad pitch selections in some situations.”
There’s been many a night the A’s have regretted inside Angel Stadium, where they’ve lost seven in a row and 23 of their past 32.
A telling stat: Oakland’s 15-28 record against its own division is the worst in the majors this season.
The end result off-set what will still go down as a memorable night for Chapman, who attended nearby El Toro High School and played his college ball just up Highway 57 at Cal State Fullerton.
Along with hitting his seventh homer, he doubled and scored in the sixth and made an impressive running catch of Albert Pujols’ foul pop-up to strand the bases loaded in the bottom half of that inning.
“It was a great feeling obviously to be able to do something like that in front of all my friends and family,” Chapman said.
In other news, it remains to be seen whether the A’s add catcher Dustin Garneau to their 25-man roster. He was claimed on waivers Friday from Colorado and could take the roster spot of catcher Ryan Lavarnway if the A’s so choose. But also worth noting: Bruce Maxwell is in a 5-for-46 (.109) slump since the All-Star break and struck out twice Friday.