Pair of HRs not enough as Anderson struggles

June 28th, 2019

ANAHEIM -- Every young pitcher eventually comes across a mountain they must battle to overcome. For Tanner Anderson, the third inning is what has brought him most of his struggles.

The A’s rookie pitcher was clobbered for five runs in the third inning of Thursday’s 8-3 loss to the Angels at Angel Stadium. In four Major League starts this season, Anderson has allowed nine runs in the third frame.

Anderson's biggest challenge was getting left-handed batters out. He held right-handed hitters to going 3-for-10, but the four left-handed hitters in the Angels' lineup combined to go 5-for-7 against the right-hander with two home runs and six RBIs.

“He got off to a decent start, and then had a little trouble with their lefties,” manager Bob Melvin said. “Good sinker into the righties and having trouble painting away or getting inside to the lefties. Everything happened in a hurry there in the third.”

Provided an early one-run cushion on Ramon Laureano’s solo blast off Angels starter Griffin Canning in the second, Anderson failed to make that stick, as he immediately gave up the lead in the bottom half of the inning on a two-run homer by Kole Calhoun.

With two Angels recording second-inning hits on weak infield singles, Anderson said he felt his plan of relying heavily on the sinker would eventually work in his favor. He decided not to make an adjustment, and it led to his downfall in the backbreaking third that saw the righty depart with two outs after a two-run single by Luis Rengifo.

“They just were hitting it where they weren’t. It felt like everything I was throwing was just dropping in there,” Anderson said. “They just kept finding holes in the infield. It’s tough, because I just wanted to keep doing the same thing. I didn’t do a very good job of making the right adjustments. I needed to get them off-balance a little more, and I just didn’t do that.”

In his shortest outing of the season, including his 10 Minor League outings, Anderson allowed seven runs on eight hits and one walk, giving up a pair of two-run home runs.

Not the same Angels

The A’s took two of three games from the Halos in their previous visit to Anaheim on June 4-6, but that version of the Angels' lineup was devoid of several of their top hitters. Thursday’s iteration featured Justin Upton and Andrelton Simmons, both of whom were out with injuries in that last series, to form a lineup that can be tough to deal with from top to bottom.

“They’re the team they put together in the offseason now that everybody is healthy,” Melvin said. "It’s one of the deeper lineups in the American League. They’re going to be tough to navigate through. You expect to have to score some runs against them, and it’s a really good club.”

Davis leaves after HBP

Khris Davis was lifted for pinch-hitter Chad Pinder in the ninth, one at-bat after getting hit on his left elbow with a 97 mph fastball from Angels reliever Luis Garcia in the seventh. 

“We’ll see how he is tomorrow,” Melvin said. “I wasn’t comfortable with him taking that at-bat.”

Canning flusters A’s

The A’s got to Canning early with solo homers by Laureano and Matt Olson, which is generally the key to taking rookie pitchers out of rhythm. But the early runs didn’t seem to affect Canning’s poise on the mound, as he held Oakland to two runs on three hits over six innings.

Having faced him for a third time this season, the A’s have seen enough of the right-hander to validate the high praise placed on him when the Angels first called him up earlier this year.

“He’s tough to think along with. He’s really unpredictable,” Melvin said. “Even in 2-0 counts, he’ll throw a high percentage of sliders. Last time, we got to him a little bit deeper in the game and got him out of there. When he’s painting and throwing all of his pitches in different counts, he’s tough to deal with. He’s going to be a good pitcher for them.”

Luzardo sharp in Triple-A 

Jesus Luzardo, the A's No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline, looked sharp in his second start with Triple-A Las Vegas on Thursday night as he returns from a shoulder injury. The left-hander allowed two runs on four hits with no walks and four strikeouts over five innings on 66 pitches. The A’s will look to raise Luzardo’s pitch count to around 90 pitches in his next start for Las Vegas, which will come Tuesday.