Oakland A's

How the A’s had a winning seven-game trip, yet head back to Oakland disappointed

A’s outfielder Stephen Piscotty slams down his bat after flying out against the Colorado Rockies on Sunday in Denver. The A’s lost 3-2 and were swept in the three-game series.
A’s outfielder Stephen Piscotty slams down his bat after flying out against the Colorado Rockies on Sunday in Denver. The A’s lost 3-2 and were swept in the three-game series. The Associated Press

Usually a 4-3 road trip is something to be pleased with, and the A’s still might be in the grand scheme of things. But it’s the way this one ended that had them kicking themselves on the way back home.

The A’s scored 45 runs over their seven-game trip, but the most surprising numbers come in the lack of runs scored in hitter-friendly Coors Field. Scoring just twice in Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Rockies, the A’s were held to just four runs as they were swept over three games.

“It’s tough to win a four-game series, but we’re disappointed that we didn’t play better here,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “They pitched well. Every game they were just a little better than we were.”

The previous two nights that saw the A’s (61-46) score just once in each game could be rationalized by the fact that they combined to leave 22 runners on base. But Sunday, very few positives could be taken away from the offensive side.

Save for solo homer runs by Matt Chapman and Khris Davis, the A’s recorded just three singles and never had a runner reach second base.

Having played with the Rockies last season, catcher Jonathan Lucroy was very familiar with the way visiting clubs seem to struggle in Colorado. Even in years when the Rockies (57-47) are not at their best, Coors Field can be a difficult task to overcome.

“I knew coming in here it was gonna be a tough series,” Lucroy said. “They play well at home and we kept them close, just couldn’t score runs. You’re not gonna win every game. We’ll move on.”

Rockies starter German Marquez went a strong 7 2/3 innings, with his only blemishes the two homers. Though he entered the day with a 5.00 ERA for the season, Marquez was part of a resurgent Colorado starting rotation that finished the month of July with a 1.71 ERA at Coors Field, which is a franchise record ERA in a month at home.

“You don’t expect us to score four runs here in a three game series, so you do have to give them credit,” Melvin said. “You can just look at the ERAs, but if you look at them on video, all these guys are really good. They’ve bolstered their bullpen, they ran out some good arms against us every day and shut us down.”

Back to the grand scheme of things — The A’s return to Oakland for an eight-game home stand just two games back of the Seattle Mariners for the second wild card spot in the American League. They were three games back when this road trip began in Texas last Monday.

Playing well at home will be the next challenge for the A’s. They’re still above .500 in games at the Oakland Coliseum at 26-22, but with a majority of their games at home in the final two months of the season, including 17 of their next 20, winning there will be key if the A’s hope to capture a playoff spot.

“Now we have a chance to go back home and gain some ground again with an extended stay,” Melvin said. “It’s time for us to start playing really well at home. We do that, we’ll forget about this series.”

Though A’s starter Frankie Montas limited the Rockies to just three runs, it was his lack of length that continued the troubling trend that has been developing in the starting rotation. Other than Sean Manaea, the last time an A’s pitcher has gone at least seven innings in a start came back on June 9, when Chris Bassitt completed seven innings against the Kansas City Royals.

Montas fell to 5-3 on the year with his ERA bumped up to 3.75 on a day where his fastball didn’t seem to have as much movement as it normally does. He was pulled after just 4 1/3 innings, allowing base runners in each inning.

“He was a little wild. Definitely not as sharp as he usually is,” Lucroy said. “He was missing location and got beat because of it. He wasn’t his sharpest but he gave us a chance to win.”