A's lose series and perhaps another starter

April 22nd, 2019

OAKLAND -- The A’s dropped a series at the Oakland Coliseum for the first time since June 12-14, 2018 after Sunday’s 5-4 loss to the Blue Jays completed a three-game sweep, but an injury to their starting pitcher may have been the bigger loss.

Just four days after losing Marco Estrada to the 10-day injured list with a lumbar strain, the A’s could be without left-hander Brett Anderson, whose outing was cut short due to a left ankle sprain.

Anderson sustained the injury trying to chase a soft chopper from Randal Grichuk down the third base line with one out in the third inning. Anderson stumbled over the mound and immediately reached for his ankle, causing trainer Nick Paparesta and manager Bob Melvin to emerge from the dugout to check on Anderson.

After having him throw a few warmup pitches, they decided to remove him from the game. The A’s were already trailing the Blue Jays by two, after Anderson had allowed both of Toronto’s runs in that same inning.

“I went to try to pick it up because I knew [Matt Chapman] was playing back, and I just rolled my left ankle,” Anderson said. “It didn’t really hurt throwing the warmup pitches but I just couldn’t push off. It didn’t really feel stable.

Yusmeiro Petit took over for Anderson and turned in a scoreless 1 1/3 innings of work, becoming the first of six relievers the A’s used for the remainder of the game. A two-run home run surrendered by J.B. Wendelken to Justin Smoak proved to be costly.

The A’s mounted a three-run rally in the eighth and threatened to do more damage with runners on first and second in the ninth, but Ken Giles shut the door for the save.

Anderson entered the day as the A’s top pitcher, 3-0 with a 2.63 ERA over four starts, so losing him would be a tough blow. Anderson spent two separate stints on the 10-day injured list in 2018 with arm issues, but Melvin was optimistic after the game that Anderson would be able to make his next start, which would come Friday in Toronto with an extra day of rest following an off-day.

“He doesn’t feel awful,” Melvin said. “We’re going to wait and see how he is tomorrow.”

Anderson’s ankle was taped up postgame. He will undergo treatment in the next couple of days, but he also remained positive, feeling like he might have avoided something much worse.

“I’ll come in tomorrow and see how it feels,” Anderson said. “It’s one of those things where it’s day-to-day and annoying.”

Potential replacements for Anderson
Should Anderson miss any significant time, Oakland would likely reach down to Triple-A Las Vegas where it has built up some nice depth. Daniel Mengden would be the likely call-up. The right-hander was pitched in big games for the A’s during their 2018 run to the playoffs and is off to a good start at Las Vegas, compiling an ERA of 3.00 over four games.

Edwin Jackson, an integral piece from the 2018 club, was signed to a Minor League deal last week, but his arm still needs to be stretched out with a few starts at Triple-A. Right-hander Paul Blackburn would be another option, already on the 40-man roster and also pitching well at Las Vegas with a 3.38 ERA over three starts.

Bats come alive
After looking like they would go a fifth-straight game scoring two runs or fewer, the A’s offense broke out in the eighth with three runs, and collected four of their seven hits in the final two innings.

Oakland's bats struggled through the first four games of their current eight-game homestand, scoring just five runs as they were held to a .168 batting average over that stretch, entering Sunday’s game.

“The way we’ve been swinging recently, at least we have a silver lining that we swung the bat in big situations a little bit better,” Melvin said. “Obviously we’d like to come through there. That didn’t happen. But the bats came around and hopefully that’s a sign of good things to come.”

Ramon Laureano, who made everybody’s jaw drop with a sensational catch in the second inning, said after scoring 813 runs in 2018, fourth-most in the Major Leagues, the club always feels like they’re in the game no matter how large the deficit. A stretch of rough games at the plate does not change that.

“Even if we’re losing by seven, I always feel like we’re going to come back,” Laureano said. “That’s our attitude in the dugout.”

Sweepless in Oakland
The last time the A’s lost a home series was also the last time they were swept over three games. That sweep came at the hands of the defending American League West champion Houston Astros, not a huge surprise considering the season they had last year.

Getting swept by the Blue Jays, a club the A’s went 7-0 against in 2018, caught Melvin and the rest of the team off guard a bit.

“We have to move on from what was a tough series,” Melvin said. “They played well and played hard and beat us. We have to give it to them. We didn’t expect that. Hopefully it just inspires us for the next series to start playing better because it didn’t feel good getting swept.”