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'Effort is there' but A's struggling with K's, E's

Loss vs. Cleveland caps tough road trip with 'compound problems'
MLB.com @JaneMLB

CLEVELAND -- The A's closed the book on yet another grisly road trip Thursday, and with an 8-0 loss to the host Indians, exposing so many of their ongoing season woes.

Plenty could be gleaned simply from the scoreboard: Oakland rang up just as many errors as hits (3) in the four-game series finale, stumbling on the field and whiffing at the plate as it dropped its seventh consecutive road series for the first time since 2005.

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CLEVELAND -- The A's closed the book on yet another grisly road trip Thursday, and with an 8-0 loss to the host Indians, exposing so many of their ongoing season woes.

Plenty could be gleaned simply from the scoreboard: Oakland rang up just as many errors as hits (3) in the four-game series finale, stumbling on the field and whiffing at the plate as it dropped its seventh consecutive road series for the first time since 2005.

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The A's, 8-20 on the road, repeatedly flailed at breaking balls and struck out 17 times -- 10 opposite Indians starter Corey Kluber, just off the disabled list -- to run their road trip count to 93 in 63 innings during these seven games between New York and Cleveland.

The miscues, meanwhile, led to five unearned runs, and the A's lead both categories in the Majors as they head home, with 55 errors -- 15 more than any other team -- and 40 unearned runs allowed.

"For any number of reasons, it seems we compound problems on days," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We'll go a couple good days, and then have a real bad day and it magnifies it a little bit. I think same thing with the strikeouts.

"We saw the biggest problems that we have today, the defense and the strikeouts."

Video: OAK@CLE: Kluber strikes out Canha in the 1st

Melvin spoke with his squad on this matter following Thursday's disheartening deficit, telling them, "I think sometimes we try too hard."

"This is a group that works really hard," Melvin said. "We're not making a lot of headway right now, but it's not for a lack of work. I think, at times as a group, things get contagious, whether it's the strikeouts or the errors, and now you start thinking about what you don't want to happen as opposed to what you want to happen and guys get a little bit tight. That's why I think you have games like we do today."

Cleveland's four-run sixth inning featured two errors from third baseman Ryon Healy, who has committed an error in four of his past five starts at the position. A regular there upon his midseason promotion in 2016, Healy has been asked to handle DH and first-base duties at times, too.

Video: OAK@CLE: Indians score four runs in wild 6th inning

Mark Canha has also been juggling multiple positions, and on Thursday he was at the center of several game-changing plays in left field; in the sixth, a shallow blooper fell in front of him, lengthening the inning for starter Jharel Cotton, and in the seventh a ball went past him. The Indians scored two runs, rather than just one, on the play.

"The first ball hit out to me, I felt like I sat back on it too much and wasn't aggressive enough, and then the next one hit out there, I tried to be aggressive and the ball goes to the right of my glove," said Canha, who also struck out four times.

Video: OAK@CLE: Brantley singles, two runs score

Oakland has tallied at least 11 strikeouts in four consecutive games for the fourth time in club history and the first since 2012.

Thursday's showing largely demonstrated the worst of Oakland's mostly disappointing season.

"I think it's a lot of guys trying to pick up some slack," catcher Josh Phegley said. "We see how hard other guys are trying, and they make a mistake and how hard they get down on themselves. Then we try to make some good plays and pick them up and almost get out of our element. Then we're making mistakes, and it just kinda spreads. The effort is definitely there, but it has to be an effort toward focus and making the plays you need to make."

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.

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