Game 102 wrapup: A’s bats go south after lead disappears

After four innings, there was a good vibe pointing in the A’s favor as they battled Angels starter C.J. Wilson.
Wilson, just five days removed from tossing 8 1/3 scoreless innings in a 2-0 win over the A’s, was watching his pitch count soar. After an 8-pitch first inning, he threw 29 in the second inning.
By the end of the fourth, Wilson was at 91 pitches. The A’s had just put two runs on the board to grab a 2-1 lead.
Then, Dan Straily lost command and began serving up hittable pitches. The Angels knocked him from the game with a four-run fifth and that seemed to zap the life out of the A’s.
They stopped working deep counts, stopped putting runners on base and inexplicably allowed Wilson to toss threw more innings. A’s manager Bob Melvin credited Wilson with being more aggressive with the lead.
“He started pounded the strike zone a little more once they got the lead,” Melvin said. “I think he realized too that he had to throw some more strikes and he did. We tried to take advantage of some of those first-pitch strikes and hit a predictable fastball.”
Obviously, the A’s couldn’t take advantage enough. Derek Norris did crush a first pitch fastball for a home run in the sixth, but by then the Angels had an 8-2 lead.
It basically was a evil combination for the A’s. The pitchers couldn’t get outs and the hitters couldn’t get hits.
The Angels sent 15 batters to the plate in the fifth and sixth innings. Those batters went 9 for 13, with eight singles, a double, six RBIs, seven runs, a walk and a sacrifice fly.
Meanwhile, after putting seven runners on base in the first four innings, the A’s had only two baserunners over the final five innings. There was the Norris home run and that was it until a broken bat single by Chris Young in the ninth.
— Yoenis Cespedes had his right knee heavily wrapped after the game, although Melvin said it was just a scrape. It apparently occured while sliding into home when he scored on a wild pitch in the fourth.
— The sixth inning was a frustrating one to watch for the A’s as the first five batters singled. That included a bunt single by J.B. Shuck. A’s reliever Jesse Chavez, who allowed the first four hits, called the frustration just part of baseball.
“It is (frustrating), but that’s baseball,” Chavez said. “It’s a game of inches. If they hit it six inches one way or six inches the other way, it’s an out. That’s how you have to look at it and come back tomorrow and put the nose to the grindstone again.”
— Melvin isn’t looking over his shoulder for help as the trade deadline looms on July 31.
“Whether something’s done or not, we feel like we have a good team,” Melvin said before the game.
“It would be one thing if everybody was looking around and we had a glaring weakness,” Melvin said. “You’re just trying to incrementally upgrade your team and if there’s something out there to be done, then you do it.
“Organizations like us are probably a little more careful with young players knowing that we implement them a little sooner and there’s some turnover here every few years based on some financial restrictions, but I don’t think it’s anything that will affect us.”
The A’s remain three games ahead of the second-place Texas Rangers.
“I think based on where we are right now, we feel good about our team,” he said. “You don’t look too far ahead. You have long-term goals and short-team goals. Our long-term goal is that yeah, I think we can go back to the postseason again. But we narrow it back down to today and doing everything we can to win today.”

Jimmy Durkin

Jimmy Durkin is a sports writer for the Bay Area News Group.