OAKLAND -- The A’s saw enough of Rockies pitching over a short two-game series.
Save for Matt Chapman’s first homer of the year, the bats went cold for a second straight day in Wednesday afternoon's 5-1 loss to Colorado at the Oakland Coliseum. Swept over two games, the A’s offense struggled to get much going, as hitters went 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position and left 16 runners on base in the series.
Here are three takeaways from Wednesday’s loss:
It’s not that the A’s had issues getting hits -- the offense racked up 13 over the two games -- but too many times over the course of 18 innings against Colorado, they killed their rallies with rough at-bats in critical situations.
An example of this came in the eighth inning on Wednesday. Trailing by two runs with a chance against the Rockies' bullpen after starter Germán Márquez held Oakland to one run over six innings, Marcus Semien and Ramón Laureano reached base to lead off the frame. It appeared to be a favorable scenario with Oakland’s middle of the order coming up. The next four plate appearances: strikeout by Chapman, groundout by Matt Olson, hit-by-pitch to Mark Canha and strikeout by Robbie Grossman.
“We didn’t do a very good job today with runners in scoring position. That’s pretty much the tale of the game,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin. “They came up with big hits, and we didn’t."
As a group, the A's slash line ranks among the lower tier of baseball after Wednesday, with hitters slashing .207/.298/.319 -- all but on-base percentage in the bottom third -- through the first six games of the season.
Luzardo ready to start
The lone bright spot on Wednesday came in the form of Jesús Luzardo. After tossing three scoreless innings in his first outing of the year on Saturday, the club's No. 1 prospect took over for starter Frankie Montas in the sixth, providing 3 2/3 innings of relief. Getting his pitch count up to 67, Luzardo is now in line to make his first Major League start his next time out for Oakland.
“That’s why we pushed him to the number that we did,” Melvin said. “We’ll talk about which day he starts.”
Holding the Rockies scoreless through his first two innings, Luzardo saw a 12-inning scoreless streak dating back to 2019 snapped in the eighth, when Charlie Blackmon doubled home a run to extend Colorado’s lead to 3-1. Two more runs scored against Luzardo in the ninth, and though they were unearned, they crossed the plate as a result of his throwing error.
The explosiveness was evident in all of Luzardo’s pitches. He relied heavily on the slider, throwing it 25 times on Wednesday and recording five strikeouts -- all swinging. Nearly one-fourth of his pitches (16 of 67) induced swinging strikes.
"You see a lot of bad swings off him,” Melvin said. “The velocity and breaking ball is there. Throwing 2-2 changeups to lefties -- all his stuff looks great, and to have it in this fashion after missing significant time in Summer Camp is impressive.”
Already feeling ready for a move to the rotation after his outing on Saturday, Luzardo’s second appearance simply provided reassurance.
“I think my arm is ready, especially after this outing,” Luzardo said. “I think I’m ready in terms of strength and how I feel.”
Montas goes five
With a taxed bullpen that played a key role in the A’s opening-series success, Montas provided the relief corps with some rest on Wednesday as he became the first Oakland starter to complete five innings in a start this season. Montas did not appear to have much control of his splitter, throwing it just nine times out of his 77 pitches on the day, though he worked around it to limit the Rockies to two runs on five hits and two walks, also striking out three batters.
“He got better as he went along. That’s a good sign,” Melvin said. “He got command of his breaking ball. He was up against a tough guy. [Márquez] was really good, had a great slider and a real easy delivery. The ball gets on you. We took some bad swings off him in decent counts. It’s just about getting the big hit when the opportunity is there.”