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A's take the measure of themselves after split

@MartinJGallegos
June 23, 2019

OAKLAND -- The overall result of a four-game series between the A’s and Rays was indicative of the battle both clubs expect to find themselves in as they possibly compete for an American League Wild Card spot at the end of the season. It wasn’t exactly a close game on

OAKLAND -- The overall result of a four-game series between the A’s and Rays was indicative of the battle both clubs expect to find themselves in as they possibly compete for an American League Wild Card spot at the end of the season.

It wasn’t exactly a close game on Sunday afternoon as Oakland fell 8-2 at the series finale at the Coliseum, but this was an outlier in an otherwise closely contested series that finished in a split. The A’s took two of three from the Rays in St. Petersburg earlier this month, giving them a 4-3 edge in the season series.

Box score

“We played them pretty even the whole time,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “We won the series at their place. It’s two teams that are pretty evenly matched, and this was the first game that didn’t come down to the last couple of innings.”

Here are four points of focus after the series:

1. Anderson’s streak ends

After the first three games were decided by two runs or fewer, a bad inning by starter Brett Anderson put the A’s in an early hole. Having already surrendered three runs in the third, the left-hander failed to record an out in the fourth inning.

The Rays scored five runs to build a seven-run cushion. Anderson was charged with a season-high seven runs as he lasted just three-plus innings, breaking a streak of six consecutive starts in which he allowed three earned runs or fewer.

“I think that might have been the first time this year that he didn’t have a whole lot,” Melvin said. “You could tell the velocity at the beginning wasn’t great, not that he’s a velocity guy, but not much sink. Had trouble commanding the breaking ball, and they got him out of there pretty early. Really, his first clunker.”

Anderson’s fastball sat around 86-87 mph to start the game. Though he turned in a scoreless first two frames, the battle Tampa Bay’s offense displayed in its early at-bats was an indication that Sunday might not end up Anderson’s best performance.

“It was the perfect recipe for a bad start facing a team that had been scuffling offensively and then my lack of command,” Anderson said. “It’s frustrating from my end that we could have taken the series from a team that is ahead of us in the standings and a quality ballclub. But it’s not quite as frustrating from a pitching side because I know this is about as bad as my command and stuff can be. Hopefully, it can only go up from here.”

The recent run of success Anderson had been on allows him to quickly put Sunday’s outing in the past and look ahead to his next start, which will come Saturday at Anaheim.

“For the most part, when I’ve had bad stuff, I’ve given us a chance to win. Today, nothing really positive,” Anderson said. “One of those you don’t really dwell on. Just flush it and get ready for the next start.”

2. Chapman shows off his glove

After getting it done at the plate on Saturday with the game-winning double, Matt Chapman reminded everyone of his Gold Glove-winning defense with a few more additions to his ever-growing highlight reel of defensive plays.

Chapman saved Anderson from further damage in a three-run third with back-to-back gems to end the inning. First came a heads-up play to throw out Austin Meadows at home for the second out as he tried to score from third on a chopper. One batter later, Chapman dove to his left to snag a hard-hit liner before firing a seed over to Matt Olson at first base to take away an RBI and extra bases from Willy Adames.

Chapman also had a gem in the first to deny the game’s second batter, Tommy Pham.

“He’s awesome. He should be an All-Star,” Anderson said. “It’s fun to pitch in front of him every day because some of those plays you expect to be made are not made on other teams. He’s phenomenal over there, and I’m glad he’s on my team.”

3. Struggling without the long ball

Home runs are essential to Oakland’s success, and as Sunday’s game showed, the A’s are a different club when opposing teams keep them from leaving the yard. They’re now 2-19 when they have failed to hit a home run in a game.

A large part of the offensive woes Sunday was a product of Rays pitcher Ryan Yarbrough, who pitched the bulk of the game following opener Ryne Stanek. Yarbrough gave Oakland trouble over six innings, allowing just one run on five hits and no walks.

“He’s got a little funky delivery,” Melvin said. “He’s cross fire but throws a lot of changeups. Everything looks like it’s coming towards you, and then it ends up falling the other way. He can backdoor his slider and just has really good command.”

4. What’s next

The A’s finished off a 10-game homestand at 6-4 and now embark on a six-game road trip that begins on Tuesday at St. Louis for a quick two-game Interleague series against the Cardinals.

“You always want to play above .500 at home,” Melvin said. “It could have been a lot better if we win today, but we go out on the road for a couple of tough games in St. Louis and some more games in our division. Guys are looking forward to getting out and climb up more on .500 than we are now.”

Martin Gallegos covers the A's for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MartinJGallegos.