Technically, the A’s only lost one game on Wednesday, but they sure took a lot of L’s.
Here is a breakdown of a forgettable hump day for the organization, ranking the moments from least worst to worst.
Honorable mention: Ramón Laureano
OK, so Ramón Laureano didn’t get hurt in Wednesday night’s game but he did come up gimpy after getting thrown out at the plate in the sixth inning.
Laureano appeared to tweak his right ankle sliding into catcher Martin Maldonado and got checked out by head trainer Nick Paparesta and A’s manager Bob Melvin in the dugout afterwards.
Laureano talked with trainer Nick Paparesta after appearing to jam his right ankle, but stayed in the game pic.twitter.com/cygKNKOUXj
— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) July 8, 2021
Laureano stayed in the game and played all nine innings, but the A’s don’t want to see him back on the injured list. The explosive outfielder has played in 67 of the A’s 88 games this season while missing time with hip, thumb and wrist injuries.
“Just jammed his ankle a little bit,” Melvin said. “I think he’s OK.”
Laureano offered a short answer on his status, saying, “Ankle, I’m good.”
5. Matt Chapman
When the A’s released their lineup Wednesday, Matt Chapman’s absence glared.
Melvin revealed that Chapman spent part of Wednesday in the hospital receiving an IV due to a stomach flu.
“It’s not just a normal illness,” Melvin said. “It’s something that’s sapped him pretty good.”
The A’s star third baseman is slashing .284/.357/.505 with six homers and 21 RBI over his past 29 games after a slow start, as he works back from September hip surgery.
4. The game itself
With all of the new stadium drama and Dave Kaval’s PR antics — some days it feels like the nine guys on the field chasing the ball around is the least consequential thing happening with the A’s. But, oh yeah, this is a baseball team.
Southpaw Sean Manaea gave up two dingers, including a solo shot to Kyle Tucker that proved to be the game-winner in the 4-3 Astros victory. The A’s have now lost the first two games of the series, nine of 12 against the Astros this season, five of their past six overall, four straight series and are 5.5 games out of first place in the AL West.
It might seem like the sky is falling, but the A’s are still 49-39 and hold a three-game lead over the Toronto Blue Jays for the second Wild Card spot. Everyone in the American League is chasing the Astros — they have the AL’s best record at 54-33.
The A’s are still in decent shape despite this recent skid.
3. Chad Pinder
The baseball gods were cruel on Wednesday night.
Astros shortstop Carlos Correa made a fine backhanded play to retire Chad Pinder in a bang-bang play at first base to end the game. Then things got worse.
Just as Pinder crossed the bag, he grabbed his right hamstring. A’s trainers and Melvin went to check on Pinder, who gingerly made his way back to the dugout on his own power. But you can tell by his reaction that it looks like a pretty serious pull, if not a tear.
brutal way to end this game for A’s — Pinder appears to pull hamstring busting down the line getting thrown out on a close play 😬 pic.twitter.com/HKCRVAd5VI
— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) July 8, 2021
After the game, Melvin filled in reporters on the severity of the injury.
“I guess it’s going to be a while,” Melvin said. “He’s had right hamstring [injuries] before. I can’t imagine he’s going to be ready to play for a bit. … The way it looked — I mean I’m not a doctor — but the way it looked, these things tend to be a while.”
Pinder has been struggling at the plate but he’s still liable to hit a dinger at any moment with his power. The utility man’s versatility was super valuable with Mark Canha and Mitch Moreland out due to injury.
2. Trevor Rosenthal
It’s possible that the A’s will pay $11 million to Trevor Rosenthal and he will never throw a pitch for them.
Melvin dropped some big news before Wednesday’s game when he shared that prized free-agent closer signee Trevor Rosenthal will undergo season-ending hip surgery Tuesday to repair a torn labrum.
Rosenthal has missed the entire season since a surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome in April. Melvin said the right-hander started feeling discomfort 7-10 days ago before A’s doctors sent him to renowned Dr. Marc J. Philippon for a second opinion.
“It stings,” Melvin said. “He was kind of the final piece we brought in when some money was freed up to bring in a guy like him. You expect him to be your closer and it’s disappointing. It’s disappointing for him, too. He wanted to pitch for us.”
This is a lose-lose for both parties involved.
First of all, you gotta feel for Rosenthal who resuscitated his career and returned to elite closer status in 2020 after missing the entire 2018 season due to elbow surgery.
The A’s took a chance on a superb replacement for outgoing closer Liam Hendriks but will have to eat his eight-figure salary. Rosenthal is due to make $3 million this season, $3 million in 2022 and $5 million in 2023.
Oakland was holding out the slim chance of hope that he could solidify the back end of the bullpen, as Rosenthal toted a 1.90 ERA and 38-to-8 K-to-BB ratio in 23 appearances last season.
Now the A’s will have to rely on their shoddy bullpen until they find some reinforcements via the trade market before the July 30 non-waiver deadline. Lou Trivino has been the team’s best reliever with his 2.01 ERA and 13 saves in 15 chances this season.
Beyond him, the team’s top options are Yusmeiro Petit, Jake Diekman, Sergio Romo and J.B. Wendelken, who have all been topsy-turvy this season.
“It remains status quo,” Melvin said of his bullpen. “We weren’t 100 percent sure we were going to get him back anyway. We were hopeful. Based on the way he was progressing after the surgery, we felt pretty good about sometime in mid-to-late August. But that’s just not the case now.”
1. New stadium timeline
The A’s took part in another marathon public meeting on Wednesday that spanned more than 6.5 hours, as the Oakland City Council took public comment and dissected the evolving term sheet for the Howard Terminal development.
I will try to get a complete writeup posted by Thursday evening because it’s a lot of information to try and wrangle, but my main takeaway is that the A’s are on a completely different timeline than the legislative bodies that could be involved.
City councilmembers could still hold a non-binding vote on the term sheet July 20, but legally it doesn’t hold any weight. Oakland sounds reliant on the County’s financial support for infrastructure commitments and Alameda County wants to wait until at least September to make a formal decision.
The City also made sure to note that the environmental impact report isn’t certified yet — which is a major hurdle in this process — and probably won’t be vetted/finished with public comment review until late October.
A’s president Dave Kaval keeps on parroting that the team is “running out of time” after “20 years of going sideways” but it just looks more and more of a ploy for them to find an exit strategy for Oakland and pin the blame on municipalities.
Oakland wants the A’s to stay. Alameda County wants the A’s to stay. Most citizens in the public comment want the A’s to stay so long as it’s done the right way — which takes time, especially in the Bay Area. The A’s appear to be the least interested party in staying in Oakland, if it means waiting a few more months.
Kaval has a two-day trip planned to Las Vegas starting Thursday and I don’t think that’s a scheduling accident. He wants to keep making public pressure plays while this issue is fresh on people’s minds heading into the July 20 City Council vote.