A's spoil Ohtani's gem, show fight despite 100th loss

Capel's 8th-inning single ends no-hit bid from two-way superstar

September 30th, 2022

ANAHEIM -- There’s no good way to lose the 100th game of the season, but getting no-hit would definitely have added insult to injury.

That’s what Shohei Ohtani nearly did to the A’s in their 4-2 loss on Thursday night at Angel Stadium to complete a sweep. The Orioles’ combined no-hitter on July 13, 1991, remains the last time the A’s have been no-hit, which is the longest active streak in Major League Baseball.

"I mean, we all have pride," said manager Mark Kotsay. "No one wants to go through a no-hit performance. I've been on that end myself as a player. So the dugout knew what was going on, the dugout was talking."

Through the first 7 2/3 innings, the A’s managed just one baserunner vs. Ohtani. drew a walk to open the game, but was erased two batters later on a double play. At one point, Ohtani retired 22 straight, relying heavily on his offspeed pitches -- particularly his slider -- to keep Oakland’s hitters off-balance.

It wasn’t until came up with two outs in the eighth inning that someone would reach base again. Down in the count 1-2, the rookie connected with a cutter just off the plate, sending it off the glove of Angels shortstop Livan Soto for Oakland’s first hit of the game.

"He's got some good stuff," Capel said of Ohtani. "He had a slider working and his cutter. You just got to go up there and battle, try to put the barrel on it and put a good swing on."

following that up with a single of his own, though both ended up stranded when Shea Langeliers grounded out in the next at-bat.

"[Ohtani] was just throwing the ball really well," Garcia said through team interpreter Melisa Bivian. "I was looking for it to go in a certain direction, but it kept going to the corner and I was just missing."

As for their record, this is just the second time in Oakland history that an A’s squad has lost 100 more games, and the first since the 1979 team went 54-108. The A’s also had four 100-loss seasons in Kansas City and 11 in Philadelphia.

Having been part of a 108-loss team himself with the Marlins in 1998, Kotsay speaks from personal experience when he says that he and his players aren’t thinking about any future implications during the final week of the season. Everyone’s focus is on the remaining six games on the schedule.

"Each game, I want to win, they want to win," Kotsay said. "So the big-picture stuff can wait until Oct. 6 when the season ends. This isn't about developing here. This is about winning baseball games, and we haven't done our job and won enough baseball games to finish the season where we wanted to be."

The A’s made a push late for a victory on Thursday, cobbling together two runs on a double, walk, hit-by-pitch and RBI groundout in the top of the ninth against Angels left-hander Aaron Loup. Though the effort fell short, it demonstrated the kind of fight that the team has come to expect of itself.

And even if the A’s aren't trying to look too far down the road, these games can certainly serve as something of a proving ground for players looking to establish places for themselves on next year’s squad, like Garcia and Jordan Diaz. The stretch run can also be a valuable opportunity for the team to work on finding its identity and establishing its culture.

"The challenges are just keeping the culture one that's positive, and one that continues to work," said Kotsay. "If you were in our weight room today at three o'clock, you'd have seen about 10-12 guys working out, getting prepared for the night. That says more than any speech or anything that can be talked about."