A’s drop series opener to Los Angeles Angels in decisive fashion

The A’s fell into third place in the A.L. West, a half-game behind the Los Angeles Angels. They dropped out of a wild card spot for the first time in 16 days. Neither is a huge deal at this point. But what should be troubling to A’s fans is that the Angels appeared to clearly be a superior team in Monday’s 4-0 win over the A’s. Before the season, that was an obvious statement. But then the A’s went and surprised us with their torrid run through July. The expectations were raised and so were the stakes, to the point where this early August three-game series unexpectedly means something. The Angels arrived in Oakland having lost four of their previous five, but they have a roster that’s capable of really turning it on and getting hot. The A’s faced a serious Cy Young candidate in Jered Weaver on Monday. They tried containing an M.V.P. candidate in leadoff hitter Mike Trout. Oh yeah, No. 3 hitter Albert Pujols ain’t bad either.

It’s hardly gloom and doom for the A’s because they lost the opener of this series. We’ve seen how resilient this team is, how it picks itself up off the canvas when it looks finished. Having lost six of their past nine, the A’s need to do that now. Sending Bartolo Colon to the mound Tuesday offers good potential for a rebound, though Angels lefty C.J. Wilson counters with a 2.29 ERA. On Wednesday, the A’s face former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke. Their work is cut out for them, no doubt.

Will the A’s get Yoenis Cespedes back Tuesday? That’s a pretty big question. His absence was glaring in a game like Monday’s. His presence alone gives the lineup so much more credibility, it gives opposing pitchers more to worry about, and it has to send a shot of confidence through everyone in the A’s dugout. Cespedes’ wrist has sidelined him for two of the past three days, but manager Bob Melvin seemed hopeful of perhaps getting Cespedes back Tuesday night.

That’s all for now …

Joe Stiglich