Just another variation on a theme today as the A's fell 4-3 and were swept by Arizona in their three-game series. The first inning was a microcosm of the A's struggles in the last month: they could not get a timely hit and Arizona could. After a lead-off double by Jemile Weeks and a flare into right for a single by Colin Cowgill, the A's had men on first and third with no outs.
They did not score a run. First Josh Reddick popped out to shortstop. Then Jonny Gomes flied out to shallow center. Then Brandon Inge flied out to right to end the threat as soon as it had flared. A's starter Travis Blackley then ran into trouble in the bottom of the inning. After retiring the leadoff hitter, Blackley gave up singles to Chris Young and Justin Upton. After walking Paul Goldschmidt, Blackley allowed a single to Aaron Hill that scored Young and Upton. Goldschmidt scored on a error by Cliff Pennington.
It was 3-0 and, though the A's would score twice in the fourth on an RBI double by Inge and a single by Josh Donaldson, they could not complete the comeback. Jason Kubel continued his white hot hitting against Oakland with an RBI single in the fifth to make it 4-2 Arizona. The A's bullpen was fabulous, as Evan Scribner and Sean Doolittle combined to strike out seven in 3 1/3 scoreless innings. A single by Seth Smith made the score 4-3, but Inge grounded out in the seventh to end the A's last real threat.
Good: A's bullpen. Two new arms looked fantastic. Scribner and Doolittle are different pitchers in design, but they were equal in effect this afternoon. Doolittle was overpowering in particular. An amazing ascent and perhaps a signal that change may be headed to the A's shaky bullpen.
Bad: Situational hitting. On the surface, it looks like the A's went 4 for 10 with runners in scoring position. But, unfortunately, only two of those hits scored runs. There were instances where a sacrifice fly, a ground ball, or even a double play would have plated a run, but the A's could not deliver. It is this lack of timely hitting that has led to their descent in the standings.
Ugly: Cliff Pennington. He goes 0 for 4 to drop to .208 for the year. Even worse, his error ends up costing the A's a victory in hindsight. Is it too late to get Adrian Cardenas back? I imagine he could not be much worse than Penny has been this year. It is just not happening for players like him. When does management consider cutting the cord?
With the loss, the A's are now 26-35, a season-low nine games under .500. The road trip continues as the A's head to Coors Field in Denver to face the Colorado Rockies. The first game matches Bartolo Colon against Jeremy Guthrie. First pitch is 5:40 p.m. on Tuesday evening.