A's troubles continue in loss to Jays
Oakland losing streak reaches 10 as team wastes offense
TORONTO -- Although it may sound cliché, the term "When it rains, it pours," has certainly applied to the Athletics over their current losing streak. That skid reached a season-high 10 games on Thursday as the A's fell, 6-4, to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
Right now, it seems as though Oakland (53-61) can do nothing right. Even though the A's showed some offensive grit, managing more runs on Thursday than they had during any of their first nine consecutive losses, the team still found a way to lose.
"If we do one thing right, we do something else wrong," said A's second baseman Mark Ellis, in a quiet Oakland dressing room following the loss. "If we hit the ball, we're not pitching. If we pitch the ball, we're not hitting. So it's just the way it's been for all 10 games. That's how you get a losing streak."
Oakland's latest loss was the club's 17th in 19 games since the All-Star break. As well, losing the series finale against the Jays (59-56) on Thursday meant that Oakland has now been swept in three consecutive series.
During the losing streak, the offense has scored an average of 2.1 runs per game, while batting a collective .205. On the other hand, Oakland's starting pitchers have posted a 7.20 ERA over 50 innings during the streak. It's a recipe that has obviously left the club searching for answers and desperate for a win.
"Right now, it's one of those stretches where you have just got to keep going out there and being aggressive, whether it's at the plate or pitching," said Thursday's starter Justin Duchscherer, who received a no-decision. "Things will work out. The law of averages dictates that. But right now, it seems that things are not going our way and we have to just keep fighting our way through."
Duchscherer was handed an early lead to work with in the second inning, when A's shortstop Bobby Crosby continued his hot hitting of late by clubbing a double to the left-center-field gap that drove in Carlos Gonzalez, putting Oakland up, 1-0. Two batters later, first baseman Daric Barton launched a 3-1 pitch from Jays starter A.J. Burnett (14-9) into the right-center-field stands for a two-run shot that increased the A's lead to 3-0.
In the fourth inning though, Duchscherer couldn't hold the lead, partially due to some bad luck on the mound.
Duchscherer allowed a two-out single to Jays catcher Rod Barajas, which was followed by a grounder off the bat of Adam Lind that traveled up the middle of the field. Crosby made a diving stop of the ball and flipped it to Ellis, who couldn't find the bag.
"Crosby made a great play and I'm on the run," said Ellis. "I just couldn't find the bag. I tried to catch the ball and find the bag at the same time. I got it on the second try but he had already beat it."
Had Ellis converted on the play, Duchscherer would have escaped the jam unharmed. But as has been the case for Oakland of late, things haven't always worked out as planned. The next batter, Matt Stairs, chopped a ball in Ellis' direction, which appeared playable before it took a unexpected bounce away from the second baseman.
Stairs was safe at first with an infield single and the next two Blue Jays, Scott Rolen and John McDonald -- the Nos. 8 and 9 hitters in the lineup -- made the A's pay, with back to back two-RBI hits that gave Toronto a 4-3 lead.
"Duchshcerer didn't get any breaks whatsoever, and they capitalized on every one of them," said A's manager Bob Geren.
"It's tough sometimes, the game of baseball," said Duchscherer, who has not won since July 8 -- a stretch of five starts. "I call it the luck factor. You know, sometimes you throw a bad pitch and a guy squares the ball up and hits it right at somebody. And sometimes you make a good pitch and they find a hole."
In the next inning, Oakland right fielder Ryan Sweeney took Duchscherer off the hook for a loss, when he hammered a 2-0 pitch from Burnett into the second deck in right field. The solo shot tied the game at 4. The home run was Sweeney's fourth of the year and first since July 5.
The tie game didn't last long, though, as Oakland reliever Jerry Blevin (0-1) surrendered the lead for good in the sixth inning, by loading the bases and then hitting Toronto leadoff man Joe Inglett with a pitch, forcing in the go-ahead run. The Jays added another run in the inning on a sacrifice fly from Brad Wilkerson, giving the home team a 6-4 lead.
"I let my emotions run a little bit instead of keeping my confidence level up," Blevin said. "I just kind of seized into the heat of the moment type thing and it's something that's unacceptable."
The A's were able to bring the potential go-ahead run to the plate in the top of the ninth inning against Jays closer B.J. Ryan. However, Frank Thomas grounded into a double play to end the game.
The strong offensive showing for Oakland -- including 10 hits, two of which were home runs -- gave the team one positive to draw on.
"A lot of our guys hit the ball well tonight," said Ellis. "Hopefully we'll start to hit the ball better. It's day-to-day. You just have to take it day-to-day. You can't look at the long [run], you just have to do you're thing every day, put your work in and hopefully the results will come."
David Singh is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.