Defense 'wasn't our best' as win streak ends

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OAKLAND -- The consistent execution of fundamentals that helped the A’s put together the longest active winning streak in MLB was an aspect that was lacking on Wednesday night.

A game that began with promise on JJ Bleday's three-run homer off Tyler Glasnow to give the A’s an early lead was sunk later in the night by a few errors and the inability to capitalize on opportune situations. The result: A 6-3 loss to the Rays at the Coliseum, ending Oakland’s streak at seven games, which had been tied for its longest such streak since winning seven in a row from Aug 4-12, 2021.

“It wasn’t our best tonight in terms of defense,” manager Mark Kotsay said. “Offensively, we got guys [on base] all night. We just couldn’t get the big hit.”

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An attempt by Shea Langeliers to nab Taylor Walls on a steal attempt of second base went awry as the catcher sailed a ball that instead allowed Walls to take third, facilitating a three-run fifth that allowed Tampa Bay to grab the lead. In the seventh, Lucas Erceg fired an errant throw to second on a pickoff attempt of Manuel Margot that allowed him to take third. Shortly after, Margot scored on a wild pitch from Erceg.

By night’s end, the A’s committed two errors after having committed just three through the entirety of the win streak.

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At the plate, the A’s stranded five baserunners and went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, going hitless in such situations the rest of the night following Bleday’s home run in the second.

“That’s kind of the story of the game,” Kotsay said. “We had been successful in those situations to win games. Tonight, we couldn’t get the job done on the offensive side.”

Coming off the high of earning his first Major League win over the weekend in Milwaukee, A’s No. 17 prospect, Luis Medina, encountered a bit more trouble in his sixth Major League start. Though he limited a potent Rays offense to one run over the first four innings, Medina was unable to pitch his way out of the fifth, finishing with four runs allowed on eight hits and a walk with five strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings.

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Medina’s blazing fastball has long been a standout strength. However, a heavy reliance on that heater, which maxed out at 98.8 mph, was costly. The right-hander threw fastballs for 42 of his 79 pitches. Of the 21 swings on the pitch from Tampa Bay’s hitters, there was only one whiff and a ton of hard contact, with an average exit velocity of 95.8 mph on the 11 fastballs put in play against him.

“Not as sharp as his last outing,” Kotsay said of Medina. “Had a little trouble landing the breaking ball, and when you have to rely on the fastball, they can get on that fastball pretty good. They came out aggressively against him, and he left some pitches in the middle of the plate.”

The streak’s conclusion denied the A’s from making some impressive history. According to’s Sarah Langs, they would have been the first team in history to win eight in a row after entering that span with a sub-.200 winning percentage at least 25 games into a season. Instead, their stretch of seven consecutive victories remains tied with the 1895 Louisville Colonels (.192 winning percentage) and the 1885 Detroit Wolverines (.190).

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Still, that streak, which came against three above-.500 clubs, provided these young A’s with a newfound belief that they are capable of hanging with the game’s best. Having already taken the first two of this four-game set with the Rays, who at 49-22 hold the Majors' best record, the A’s have a shot to keep the good times rolling with a win on Thursday, which would mark their fourth series victory in their last five tries.

“Our confidence has grown for sure,” Bleday said. “Guys have always been putting in the work, whether it’s pitchers, hitters or defense. To string some wins together consistently is definitely good going forward.”

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