ANAHEIM -- The right hand of Frankie Montas is a valuable appendage to the Oakland A’s present and future, both of which were temporarily clouded Saturday night after he took a line-drive comebacker to his two forefingers in the second inning of a 5-3 loss at Angel Stadium.
Fortunately for the A’s, X-rays came back negative. Manager Mark Kotsay classified his status as day to day with the hopes he can make his next start.
“It’s probably just a bruise,” Kotsay said.
Angels shortstop Luis Rengifo hit a 94.8 mph liner right at Montas, who barely had time to react. The right-hander was able to retrieve the ball and get the second out of the inning, but was shaking his hand in pain. A’s athletic trainer Nick Paparesta, Kotsay and the infielders surrounded him on the mound with obvious concern.
“We were talking with him trying to determine if he could stay in the game,” Kotsay said. “But unfortunately he didn’t have feeling in two fingers -- the two most important ones that throw pitches.”
After walking around briefly, Montas tossed a few pitches from the mound before deciding he couldn’t continue.
“Luckily it didn’t hit me hard enough to break any bones,” said Montas, who also assured he’d be “good tomorrow.”
The 29-year-old right-hander led all Oakland pitchers last season with 32 starts, in addition to a 122 ERA+. Over his first eight outings in 2022, he registered five quality starts -- including six innings and 12 strikeouts against the Angels last Sunday.
If the sight of Montas exiting early wasn’t enough of a scare for the A’s, Ramón Laureano also suffered a hand injury on a 93.4 mph hit-by-pitch from Michael Lorenzen. Laureano was back playing right field once the Angels came to bat, but was replaced in the bottom of the third by Chad Pinder.
Like Montas, X-rays on Laureano were negative. It is also believed to be a bruise and his status is day to day.
“We just have to see how [holding a bat] feels for him,” Kotsay said. “There was a little bit of swelling. He went into the cage to go take some swings and it just wasn’t there. So no reason to force it.”
The Oakland offense was held to three hits and was 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position over seven scoreless frames against Lorenzen and Ryan Tepera. It came to life in the eighth and even brought the tying run to the plate before Oliver Ortega got Luis Barrera to strike out on a pitch in the dirt.
The rally began with a one-out double from Kevin Smith and a single by Sheldon Neuse, which scored Oakland’s first run. Jed Lowrie followed with an RBI double to left field. It was the 201st of his career with the A’s, tying him with Carney Lansford for ninth in franchise history. All three hits came off lefty reliever Aaron Loup.
Sean Murphy singled against Ortega to load the bases and a wild pitch allowed Lowrie to score and put runners at second and third.
“We did have some scoring opportunities,” Kotsay said. “We just weren’t able to cash them in.”
That would be the last threat as they were sent down in order in the ninth. The second out came when Elvis Andrus was deemed to have gone around on a check swing that sent him to the dirt and was strongly questioned by both him and Kotsay.
The A’s bullpen was certainly put in a difficult situation once Montas departed. It would have been hard enough to duplicate the 4 1/3 hitless innings in Friday’s victory, but Domingo Acevedo provided two spotless frames.
Rengifo, though, was the cause of additional pain in the fifth -- this more emotional than physical -- when he drove an Adam Kolarek pitch 397 feet over the left-field fence to break the scoreless tie. Oakland relievers came into Saturday night having allowed just one home run over the last 17 games and eight for the season, tied with the Yankees for the fewest in the Majors.
Los Angeles extended its advantage when Lou Trivino walked in a run (charged to Kolarek) and later was unable to make a play on a grounder. Andrew Velazquez hit a two-run opposite-field homer in the seventh off Jacob Lemoine, making his first appearance since being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday.