The uncharacteristic struggles of Brett Anderson continued on Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays. Oakland's Opening Day starter has allowed 11 runs in his last two outings, and he left the game against the Rays with a sprained right ankle.
The A's were 6-0 on the road before losing 8-3 to the Rays. They had plenty of chances to score, but couldn't close the six-run gap the Rays had built in the first four innings.
At the Plate
The A's got off to a great start. Coco Crisp led off with a double to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. After Seth Smith drew a walk, Jed Lowrie drove in Crisp with a line drive to center field. Brandon Moss, who just returned from the paternity list, picked up where he left off by driving in Smith with a single to left field. He was caught in a rundown between first and second when the throw home was cut off.
Lowrie finished the day 4 for 4 and raised his batting average to .414. He and Moss are tied for the team lead with 14 RBI.
The A's put together a rally in the fifth inning when Josh Donaldson and Eric Sogard led off with back-to-back singles. Crisp grounded into a double play and John Jaso grounded out to end the inning.
The A's got another chance in the sixth inning. Lowrie and Moss hit back-to-back one-out singles, but Chris Young popped up and Josh Reddick struck out.
Crisp added a solo home run in the seventh inning to make it an 8-3 game. Crisp has five home runs this season. Last season he didn't hit his fifth home run until July 25.
Down five runs in the ninth, the A's didn't give up. They loaded the bases with no outs. Jaso struck out swinging and Smith grounded into a game-ending 1-2-3 double play.
The A's stranded a lot of base runners, but they would have had a tough time winning after falling behind by six runs.
Starting Pitching Report
The A's early 2-0 lead was short lived. Anderson allowed four runs on four hits and walked two batters in his only inning of work. He left the game after one inning with a sprained right ankle.
It looked like he was struggling with his command from the beginning. Anderson walked leadoff hitter Desmond Jennings, who scored when Ben Zobrist hit a fastball down the middle with a full count. After striking out Evan Longoria, the next four Rays batters reached base.
Anderson now has a 5.95 ERA. It has been a rough start of the season for the A's Opening Day starting pitcher.
Evan Scribner had the tough task of taking the mound after Anderson left the game. The right-handed reliever threw 65 pitches and lasted three innings, but he allowed four runs, essentially putting the game out of reach.
Jerry Blevins threw a wet blanket on the Rays' hot offense. He pitched two hitless innings and struck out two batters. Blevins didn't allow a single base runner. He has a 0.93 ERA this season.
Pat Neshek allowed one hit, but pitched a scoreless seventh inning. Chris Resop did the same in the eighth.
In the Field
On the two-out infield single hit by Roberts in the first inning, the ball deflected off Anderson's glove before Lowrie got to it. If Anderson let the ball go, it's possible Lowrie would have had time to field the ball and get the third out at second base. Even with the deflection, Lowrie may have been able to go to first base to get the third out. Either way, it was a broken play all around.
The A's send Jarrod Parker to the mound after two consecutive 3 1/3 inning, nine-hit outings. Parker is 0-2 with a 10.80 ERA. He said after his last start that he was "a tad off" and appears to have identified the problem. With all of the innings the A's relievers logged on Friday, Parker could do them a favor with a quality start.
Jeremy Hellickson will be on the mound for the Rays. He is 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA. Hellickson is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in four career starts against the A's.