Defense, pitching let one get away
Four errors, leaky 'pen allow five-run lead to vanish
OAKLAND -- The A's turned what looked like a sure win into a disastrous loss Friday evening, watching a five-run lead morph into a five-run loss against an Angels club that capitalized on myriad pitching and fielding miscues in a nightmare seventh inning.
"They smelled blood, and they didn't stop," Stephen Vogt said after the 12-7 loss. "We gotta take better care of the ball on the defensive side, and a team like that, when you give them more three outs in the inning, they're going to take advantage."
The A's gifted the Angels four errors, including three in the seventh, to bring their season total to a Major League-leading 69 in 70 games.
Oakland was in the driver's seat entering the seventh, with Sonny Gray and a 7-2 lead intact. Gray, battling himself from the beginning, walked each of his first two batters ahead of Matt Joyce's RBI single. Another hit loaded the bases, and he was pulled at 113 pitches in favor of Drew Pomeranz, who walked in a run.
With one out, Edward Mujica -- fresh off the disabled list -- entered and got Mike Trout to hit a fly ball to left field that Ben Zobrist dropped, leading to another run.
Albert Pujols hit a grand slam three pitches later.
"I think it had a little side spin on it," Zobrist said of Trout's ball. "It wasn't a true backspin ball, but I knew it was hit hard and I was trying to get back to it, and I got back to it. The ball just popped out of the glove. There's not really anything else I can do in that situation. It just didn't stay in there."
Pujols also hit one to left, only farther, and by inning's end, the A's had made two more errors, leading to one more run.
"The pitch is down. That's a split that just got the barrel on it," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Pujols' home run. "We brought [Mujica] in here for a reason, to pitch deep in games. The one to Trout, if we catch that, maybe it's a little different, but still, he hit a pretty good pitch that was down in the zone."
Melvin admitted he "probably left [Gray] in a little too long," but noted, "We always feel like, with him, we're one pitch away, and he's our best guy."
"To me, he's as good as any pitcher in the American League, and we feel great when he's on the mound. Just got away from him a little bit in the seventh."
"I put the bullpen in such a bad spot," said Gray, who was charged with a season-high five earned runs. "You can't put anything on them. You come in with the bases loaded and nobody out, those runners are important and they have pressure pitches going on. I put them in a bad spot. I put the team in a bad spot. This is one of the tough ones."
The Angels tacked on two more in the ninth, with six runs total (four earned) charged to Oakland's bullpen. The A's are 4-27 when their relievers allow at least two runs.
"These are tough," said Zobrist. "We played really well early in the game and had a good lead going into the seventh, and we made some mistakes, everyone across the team. They took advantage of it."