OAKLAND – A hallmark of the A's last season was their loose, almost carefree attitude toward the success they were having. Ultimately, it may have been self-fulfilling. But it's not easy to stay so loose amid a stretch of eight losses in nine games.
The A's reached that point Saturday with a 7-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, in which starter A.J. Griffin pitched well except for one bad inning that was his undoing. Oakland hitters, meanwhile, went 2 for 14 with runners in scoring position and didn't score a run in the ninth despite loading the bases with no outs to bring the tying run to the plate.
"I think everybody's just trying a little too hard right now," manager Bob Melvin said. "Some of the at-bats, where we get some guys on base and guys want to be the guy and put a little too much pressure on themselves – I think it's the same way sometimes on the pitching end."
Since their 12-4 start, the A's have won one game – a 13-0 outburst in Boston – while averaging 2.5 runs in eight losses.
They will try to avoid a four-game sweep at home today behind Bartolo Colon, who has been their best starter of late with a 1.80 ERA in his last three outings.
Griffin allowed a bunt single his first time through the Orioles' order but found trouble in the fourth.
He issued a leadoff walk to Manny Machado, then left a curveball just up enough for Nick Markakis to golf it over the wall in right-center field. Two pitches later, Adam Jones homered to center to give the Orioles a 3-2 lead.
Griffin later said he tried to be too fine to Machado before making a mistake to Markakis. After Jones' homer, he walked Chris Davis, who came around to score on a single by J.J. Hardy.
After that, Griffin allowed only one more hit while completing seven innings. He refocused on throwing strikes and getting ahead in counts.
"We just have to take a step back, relax, regroup and focus on what makes us good," Griffin said. "And what makes us good is playing loose and not pressing, going out there and having fun playing baseball."