Schuemann shows resolve, but laments game-changing errors

May 27th, 2024

OAKLAND -- couldn’t help but feel responsible as he watched Kyle Tucker circle the bases on his two-run home run in the top of the fourth inning on Sunday afternoon.

Two batters before, Schuemann attempted to field an 87.6 mph grounder hit by Mauricio Dubón at shortstop. It had a .130 expected batting average, according to Statcast, signaling that it was a relatively routine play. As Schuemann snagged the ball near second base with his glove, he bobbled and dropped the transfer to his hand. Panicked, he hurried an underhand flip that sailed over Zack Gelof’s head at second base and into the outfield.

Had Schuemann converted the 6-4 putout, it would have ended the inning with the A’s only trailing by one run. Instead, the defensive miscue shifted the momentum in what ended up a 5-2 loss to the Astros at the Coliseum.

“The play is made and it’s a one-run game,” manager Mark Kotsay said. “It really impacted the game. Physical errors are going to happen. Nobody is trying to go out there and make an error. Max has played a good shortstop. … You look back on Friday’s loss, we had one [bad] inning. Today, we had one inning that let the game slip away from us.”

Schuemann’s double-error was immediately followed by a two-run single by José Altuve, then Tucker’s two-run blast of A’s starter Aaron Brooks, who ended up with four of his five runs allowed being unearned on nine hits and three walks with a strikeout over 4 1/3 innings.

“It was definitely a frustrating moment,” Schuemann said. “I don’t like making bonehead mistakes like that. But I’m human. I’m going to make mistakes here and there. It just happens. You have to move on and find a way to compete the rest of the game.”

Schuemann, rated Oakland’s No. 19 prospect by MLB Pipeline, showed some resolve after the mistake with a few standout defensive plays at shortstop. He also crushed his third homer of the year in the sixth, sending a 2-1 fastball from Ronel Blanco over the wall in left a Statcast-projected 403 feet with an exit velocity of 105.4 mph.

Still, Schuemann dwelled on the errors after the game. Though he came up through the Minors billed as a super-utility man whose value comes in his versatility and ability to play several positions, shortstop is his natural position. It’s where the A’s have relied on him heavily following an injury to fellow top prospect Darell Hernaiz. On Sunday, he felt like he let his pitcher down with his defense there.

“It was a pretty easy one,” Schuemann said. “I just kind of screwed it up. That falls on me. I need to be better. I hate it for Brooks, because he had to make some extra pitches there when he should have been out of the inning.”

Brooks did not fault Schuemann for the inning going awry, instead pointing out his own mistake pitches to Altuve and Tucker shortly after.

“I made a couple of mistakes that inning and they made us pay,” Brooks said. “That’s baseball. Sometimes you make an error. Things are going to happen out there. … We just keep moving forward.”

Regardless of the error, winning Sunday’s game was going to be a challenge based on Oakland’s struggles against Blanco. Aside from Schuemann’s homer, the right-hander shut them down through seven innings of one-run ball. The A’s did not plate their second run until a solo homer by Shea Langeliers with one out in the ninth.

“He’s been great all year,” Kotsay said of Blanco. “The changeup, obviously, is his pitch and his weapon. He used it effectively. We struck out six times and really never got anything going.”

While the A’s have lost six of seven games vs. Houston so far in 2024, their competitiveness has been evident to the group on the other side.

“One thing about the Oakland A’s, those guys, they play hard,” said Astros manager Joe Espada. “They’re not going to fall, they play hard for Mark Kotsay and they’ve got some hitters. … Those guys are always going to give you everything they’ve got.”

Dropping the three-game series against the Astros to finish this six-game homestand at 3-3, the A’s (22-33) will now head on the road for a six-game trip that begins Tuesday in St. Petersburg for a three-game set against the Rays and goes through Atlanta for three games with the Braves.