Before Tuesday’s game against the Texas Rangers, manager Bob Melvin cautioned that the A’s lineup is “not going to have nights like we did last night every night.” In the season opener, the A’s collected 11 hits and scored five of their eight runs on two home runs – a facet of their offense that the team’s detractors this spring feared would be sorely lacking in 2015.
Monday’s offensive output was not entirely surprising: The A’s scored the most runs in the majors during spring games, and tied for the third-most homers (33) in the American League. But Melvin was proved right as the A’s lost 3-1 to the Rangers on Tuesday, while being held to a Sam Fuld triple and four singles. Their task this season will be to prove that Tuesday, and not the impressive opener, was the exception to the rule.
Rangers starter Colby Lewis, a veteran right-hander who amassed a 5.18 ERA last season and led the league with 14 losses, held the A’s to one run over six innings despite a shaky first. The A’s first two batters reached on a single and a walk, and after Lewis threw a pitch to No. 3 hitter Ben Zobrist, he was visited briefly by the Rangers’ trainer.
Lewis stayed in the game, got Zobrist to pop out and Billy Butler to ground into a double play, and did not allow another hit until Ike Davis led off the fifth with a single. Fuld hit his second triple in two games with one out in the sixth and scored on an Eric Sogard groundout to give the A’s their only run off Lewis, who beat Oakland for the ninth time in his career.
“He’s not going to give in, and the counts that he gets behind he’s not going to throw you fastballs,” Melvin said of Lewis. “It seemed like he was on the corners the whole night with his cutter.”
By driving up Lewis’ pitch count, the A’s did get to the Texas bullpen to start the seventh inning, and the offense showed signs of life against 21-year-old right-hander Keone Kela, making his major-league debut. Billy Butler singled, Davis walked and Stephen Vogt singled to load the bases with one out. But Marcus Semien hit a soft grounder to short for an inning-ending double play.
The A’s grounded into three double plays and left five runners on base. Third baseman Brett Lawrie had the roughest night, striking out four times on a total of 12 pitches and going down swinging against Neftali Feliz for the game’s final out.
“One of those games,” Lawrie said.
Spoiled was the A’s debut of right-hander Jesse Hahn, who sported the same high green-and-yellow striped socks that Sonny Gray wore Monday night but had neither the clean outing of Gray nor the run support. Hahn’s only perfect inning was his last, the sixth. He allowed six Rangers to reach base in the first four innings, though only one scored – Rougned Odor, who was hit by a pitch in the third and scored on a single from Prince Fielder.
Hahn was less elusive in the fifth. Leonys Martin singled with one out and took third base as Elvis Andrus chopped a hit-and-run grounder into left field. Fielder then lined a single to right field, where Craig Gentry let the ball scoot under his glove, allowing both runners to score and Fielder to coast into second base with Texas leading 3-0.
Hahn retired his final five hitters before being replaced by Eric O’Flaherty in the seventh, having thrown 91 pitches. He did not walk a batter and recorded three strikeouts, showing a big-breaking curveball to go with a low-90s fastball that comes from a high angle given Hahn’s 6-foot-5 frame. He exited, though, with no chance at a win.
“He threw the ball well,” Melvin said. “Really the only hard-hit ball he gave up in the sequence where he gave up some runs was the one to Fielder. … We just didn’t score him enough runs.”
On the mend – Right fielder Josh Reddick (oblique) remains on track to make his season debut Saturday against the Seattle Mariners. First, Reddick will drive to San Bernardino for a rehab start with Single-A Stockton on Thursday, then drive back up to Oakland on Friday.
Reddick said the timing of his hitting “still not 100 percent there, but it’s coming along. I’m seeing pitches well.” He faced right-hander Jarrod Parker three times Tuesday afternoon at the Coliseum as Parker, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, threw to hitters in a simulated setting.
“I lost,” Reddick said. “I had three flyouts.”
Parker threw two innings of 15 pitches each, and Reddick said he “seemed to have great command of everything.” Parker’s next outing will be three innings in a simulated game Monday at extended spring training in Arizona.
On the way? – According to a FOX Sports report, the A’s are interested in signing one-time Giants outfielder Cody Ross, who was recently released by the Arizona Diamondbacks, as soon as Ross clears waivers today.
Ross, 34, would provide a short-term replacement for Coco Crisp, who is expected to be out six to eight weeks after elbow surgery. Ross, the NLCS MVP for the Giants in 2010, had his 2013 season cut short by a dislocated hip and played in just 83 games last season, hitting .252 with a .628 OPS in 219 plate appearances.