OAKLAND -- The A's, who expect their bats to do much of the talking this season, have yet to click offensively, and their woes at the plate have contributed to four losses in six tries.Oakland plated three runs or fewer for the fourth time Tuesday, coming up with just one
OAKLAND -- The A's, who expect their bats to do much of the talking this season, have yet to click offensively, and their woes at the plate have contributed to four losses in six tries.
Oakland plated three runs or fewer for the fourth time Tuesday, coming up with just one in a 4-1 loss to Texas behind right-hander Kendall Graveman.
Each of Graveman's outings have culminated in just five innings, and he's been hit around in both of them. After the Angels rang up seven hits, the Rangers pounced for eight, including a home run off the bat of Joey Gallo. Graveman averaged one home run per nine innings in 2017; he has surrendered four in his first 10 innings this season.
The Rangers posted two runs in the second, getting back-to-back hits from Adrian Beltre and Nomar Mazara, leading to Robinson Chirinos' RBI groundout and Rougned Odor's first run-scoring single. He had another in the fourth.
"They jumped on me early in that second inning, so just go out there and locate early and I think it's a different ballgame," Graveman said. "For me, I think I saw some good signs. I feel like I'm really, really close to putting it all together, so I just have to go out and keep working."
The A's, who open the season with 11 games without an off-day, were yet again forced to ask for four innings out of their bullpen, a trend that could prove taxing. To this point, they've met the demands with excellence.
But Oakland's offense, which came through in the seventh inning in Monday's opener to reward these efforts, came up empty on this night. They left 10 on base and came up hitless in five at-bats with runners in scoring position.
Oh, and the strikeouts. There were 13 of them on the A's side, and Rangers veteran Cole Hamels was responsible for 11 of them, recording each of his first eight outs via the strikeout. Three times, Marcus Semien and Jed Lowrie whiffed.
The youngsters, at least, held their own: Chad Pinder, Matt Olson and Matt Chapman each collected multiple hits. Pinder shined against a favorable opponent in Hamels, doubling and homering off the southpaw to improve to 6-for-6 with three home runs against him.
Newcomer Stephen Piscotty has endured rough beginnings at the plate. He's hitless in eight at-bats in this series with four strikeouts and two double-play balls. The right fielder has seen no more than two pitches in any of the at-bats, for a grand total of just 19.
"He's had a little bit of a tough time right now, but as a whole we're not swinging the bats very well," manager Bob Melvin said. "We have not had a good game offensively yet, where we put some pressure on the pitching. We have the ability to score a bunch of runs, we just haven't done it yet, so it's a combination of everybody, not just one guy."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Caught: New A's catcher Jonathan Lucroy showed off his arm, nailing three baserunners on the night -- including two under the watch of Graveman, who watched his batterymate nab both Odor and Ryan Rua for two outs in the second inning to help limit the damage. For Lucroy, the three matched a career high. Not since July 24, 2016, had he accomplished the feat.
Denied: The A's started a one-out rally in the seventh against Rangers reliever Alex Claudio when Jake Smolinski was hit by a pitch and Semien singled. That put runners on first and second with the right-handed hitting Pinder at the plate. Texas manager Jeff Banister, who had right-hander Chris Martin in the bullpen, stayed with Claudio and he escaped by getting both Pinder and Lowrie on grounders.
"The stuff is there. He's just had some tough luck, and that's how it goes. He's our guy, and we all have the utmost confidence in him, and every time he toes the rubber that's somebody I want to play behind. How he goes about his business, the competitive nature, he's our guy. It's almost there." -- Pinder, on Graveman
OLSON ON THE BASES
Olson stole the first base of his career in the bottom of the second inning, after singling. The first baseman had 15 stolen bases in 665 career Minor League games.
Left-hander Sean Manaea, who turned in a dazzling seven-strikeout, 7 2/3-inning performance against the Angels in his season debut, hopes for more of the same against the Rangers on Wednesday. Manaea is 3-2 with a 3.98 ERA in seven career starts against Texas. First pitch at the Coliseum is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. PT.
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Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.