Offensive struggles continue for A’s in another loss
CINCINNATI — For the last week, the A’s haven’t been playing like the first-place team the current standings say they are.
Going back to July 30, an eight-day, six-game span, Oakland’s pitching has been inconsistent. So has its defense. The only thing consistent about this club has been its hitting — consistently bad, that is.
A sputtering A’s lineup was nearly shut out a second straight game on Tuesday, before Derek Norris hit one out of the park with two outs in the 9th in an eventual 3-1 series-opening Interleague loss to the host Reds at Great American Ball Park.
Oakland managed just five hits in the affair.
As for that first-place standing, the A’s are quickly letting it slip away, having watched a six-game lead over the Rangers narrow to 1 1/2 games in just eight days.
Before Norris’ homer, his eighth of the year, Oakland hadn’t scored a run since Saturday, a disheartening stretch of 18 innings without one, their longest such streak of the season. And since July 30? Well, only 10 runs have crossed home plate. All the while they’ve left 45 men on base and are 4-for-41 with runners in scoring position.
That includes an 0-for-6 showing on Tuesday, with seven left on base, while starter Dan Straily struggled to gain any sort of rhythm in yet another short outing.
Oakland’s right-hander gave up two runs on six hits, including Jay Bruce’s second-inning solo shot, with one walk and three strikeouts in four innings, marking not only the third straight start he hasn’t completed five frames but also the fifth time in his last eight tries.
Straily didn’t put up a clean inning until his last, and by the time it ended, he was already at 75 pitches, leading to lefty Jerry Blevins’ entrance at the start of the fifth.
Blevins proceeded to allow a leadoff double to Shin-Soo Choo, his issues with first batters — a staggering 44 percent of them have reached base this season — continuing. Only more trouble awaited the lefty, who threw Derrick Robinson’s ensuing sacrifice bunt into right field, allowing Choo to score and Robinson to safely reach first.
Blevins stranded Robinson and the Reds didn’t score another run, but neither did the A’s, who watched righty Mat Latos toss 7 1/3 scoreless innings.