OAKLAND -- The Oakland Athletics were frustrated after they got shutout for the third time this season and committed a season-high three errors. It's hard not to be frustrated after losing three games in a row and seven of the last eight contests.
Seeing as how it's still April, and the team has a winning record, their level of frustration still isn't quantifiable, but it's there.
"It's frustrating," A's manager Bob Melvin said after the A's 3-0 loss to the Orioles. "I get questions. How frustrating? How this? How that? It's frustrating. Like on a 1-10, I don't know what we're getting at when we ask 'How this? How that?' I mean, it's frustrating, obviously."
[INSTANT REPLAY: Orioles 3, A's 0]
"When you are in close games like that, defensive miscues end up really costing you," Melvin added while maintaining his composure. "I don't know that to an extend it's frustrating, it's maddening to us."
No one is happy after a loss. And even fresh after a tough defeat, the A's skipper is able to keep things in perspective. This is a team that lost nine games in a row last season and still won the division. This is a mere rut. One that will likely be remedied, to a certain degree, if Yoenis Cespedes returns to the lineup, as he is expected to on Sunday.
The A's could have used Cespedes, who went 2 for 3 with a three-run homer in his second rehab game with the River Cats on Friday night. Even the mighty Cespedes may have struggled against Wei-Yin Chen, though, on this occasion. Chen held Oakland's hitters to just two hits over eight scoreless innings and improved to 3-0 in his career over the A's.
"He just located his fastball really well and when he had to make an off-speed pitch he did," Jed Lowrie said.
Chen's performance magnified the A's mistakes. An error in the seventh inning by Josh Reddick in right field allowed J.J. Hardy to take the extra base on a single. Hardy would end up scoring to make it 1-0.
Ryan Cook loaded the bases in the ninth inning on a hit and two walks before another run scored when Lowrie, who had played shortstop all season, made an error at second base.
"Obviously I am going to need some more reps if they are going to ask me to play there more," Lowrie said.
Lowrie was part of another bizarre defensive miscue in the second inning when he tried to turn a double play and the umpire ruled he was off the bag before he made the throw to first base. The throw from third baseman Josh Donaldson came in high, but it looked like Lowrie made the play. Instead of two outs, the A's got none.
It didn't rattle Tommy Milone. Instead of letting the missed opportunity to escape the inning affect him, he responded by getting the next batter to ground into the inning ending double play that the A's thought they had moments ago.
"Plays like that you've just got to forget about," Milone said. "Just bare down and get the next guy."
The cool-headed lefty was unflappable on the mound over 6 2/3 innings. He allowed just one unearned run and struck out five batters. He stayed calm while pitching out of several jams with runners in scoring position.
It was the type of outing the A's have been looking for out of their young starting pitchers. Unfortunately, he was bested by Chen on this occasion.
"You are trying to keep your team in the game and he's going out there and throwing out zeros," Milone said. "I'm trying to do the same thing. Sometimes you've got to tip your cap, he threw a good game."
Clearly, sometimes baseball is just frustrating.
"We know we are better than this," Lowrie said. "We're not playing with a whole lot of energy and we've faced some guys that have pitched well, but I don't think we've put up a strong enough fight against those guys."
It's much too early for the A's to be searching for answers, but if they need a little inspiration they won't have to look too far. They will get an up close look at some of the greatest players to ever don the green and gold on Saturday, during a ceremony honoring the 40th anniversary of the 1973 World Series Champion Oakland Athletics before the game.
Word is the current players will be involved in the ceremony. Maybe it will rub off on them.