A’s fall to Astros, Pomeranz to DL

A day after the Oakland A’s struggling bullpen contributed 4.2 innings of shutout baseball and the Athletics finally succeeded in winning a one-run game defeating the Houston Astros by a score of 2-1, they are currently 2-13 in one run contests, the bullpen was the main cause of yet another loss.

Monday’s game was saved, after starter Drew Pomeranz was pulled early due to shoulder soreness, by relievers Edward Mujica, Evan Scribner, Tyler Clippard and center fielder Sam Fuld.

Fuld made one of the best web gems of the day, conquering Houston’s center field mound known as Tal’s Hill, to rob George Springer of extra bases and save Scribner with nobody out in the 8th inning.

Scribner’s reaction was priceless and in a post game interview he called it the “best play” that had ever been made for him.

The A’s were able to finally celebrate a win, something that hasn’t come often for the club who won just their 14th game on Monday night.

Sonny Gray. USA TODAY Sports.

Tuesday, the bullpen failed the A’s again. Starter Sonny Gray, who’d never pitched in Houston before, left the game after five innings having allowed three runs on seven hits but the A’s were still in the game down just one run.

Despite a pretty solid starting rotation and offense, both good relief pitching and defense have been in short supply for Oakland in 2015. Fernando Rodriguez, who came in to replace Gray got in 2.1 innings of work giving way to Fernando Abad in the eighth with a runner on. Houston still held a 3-2 lead

Abad then allowed a two-run shot to Colby Rasmus and a solo shot to catcher Jason Castro before Angel Castro came in to allow one hit and finally close out the inning. 

Oakland struck back with two runs in the top of the ninth but it wasn’t enough to secure a win over the Astros who were victorious by the score of 6-4. Sadly the A’s couldn’t lock down the series win which they will attempt to do Wednesday behind right-hander Jesse Hahn.

It will not be an easy task as Houston will be starting left-hander Dallas Keuchel who has won his last seven consecutive decisions and is sporting a 1.87 ERA.

Dallas Keuchel. MLB.com

In other bad news for the struggling A’s, Coco Crisp was removed from Tuesday’s game and replaced by rookie Billy Burns (who then got two hits). Crisp was apparently suffering from the same neck injury that plagued him all last season.

This morning the A’s announced that Monday’s starter Pomeranz is headed to the disabled list with a shoulder issue. The team is not short of options to replace him however. The team has re-called Arnold Leon from Triple-A Nashville to take Pomeranz’s place on the roster. 

Leon is definitely a possible replacement but it is more likely that the A’s will give Kendall Graveman another try in the rotation or possibly Sean Nolin, both of whom were acquired as part of the Josh Donaldson trade to the Toronto Blue Jays. 

Graveman had a rough couple starts early on for the A’s but has gone 2-1 with a 1.85 ERA since being optioned back to Triple-A.

Nolin has yet to start for the A’s as he was fighting some medical issues to start the season. The young left-hander has now been deemed healthy and could be another choice to take over for Pomeranz in the starting rotation.

Of course you may wonder about Barry Zito but the likelihood of Zito making a comeback with the A’s is slim. He is not currently on the 40-man roster and someone would have to be designated for assignment in order for him to be called up. He has also been struggling in Triple-A.

Graveman and Nolin, on the other hand, are both younger and are not attempting to make a comeback but start their careers. GM Billy Beane did make sure that his club had depth when he traded away five of his All-Stars from last season.

Even though the A’s season looks over before it has even really gotten started, I’ve written on more than one occasion that the team still has the potential and time to be contenders this year.

In his column Wednesday, MLB.com’s Richard Justice agreed with my assessment of the team when he wrote, 

Their lineup is plenty good enough, and it will get better next week when Ben Zobrist returns from the disabled list. Their rotation is solid, and it should get better once A.J. Griffin returns.

Now, about everything else. The A’s are in an amazing defensive funk. It’s not that they’re a poor defensive team. They have decent range, good arms, all the things we measure. They’re simply messing up too many routine plays. Their 43 errors and 28 unearned runs allowed are tops in the Majors. This will not continue. There’s a norm for this club, and they’re going to get back there.

There’s work to do in the bullpen, but general manager Billy Beane has acquired enough pitching depth to fix it. They’ll eventually get the right combination. Oakland’s run differential (minus-6) suggests a team closer to .500. Twelve one-run losses suggests luck is a factor, too. The A’s are headed back to .500 and then into contention. Slam dunk.

So don’t give up just yet on the A’s, they can still comeback from this ugly season start.

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