The road was seemingly a very friendly place for the A’s in 2018 as they rattled off 47 wins, third most in the American League, away from their home grounds.
The start of 2019 has been vastly different, going 4-9 on the road to date, including five straight losses.
In the second of four straight nine-day road trips, they will need to find the cure for those homesick blues quickly as they approach May.
Following Monday night’s 9-4 loss at Fenway Park, there were a few moments that pinpointed where this one went wrong on the night.
Profar yip proves costly
In the early going of their opening game in Boston, the double play was the A’s friend as they turned two, each ending the first two innings.
It looked like it was going to be three straight inning-ending DPs for Oakland when Tzu-Wei Lin hit a routine grounder to Jurickson Profar at second base. But Profar was unable to clear the ball from his glove initially, rushing his throw to second, bouncing it in the dirt and off the glove of Marcus Semien to keep the inning alive.
“It looked like he didn’t get a great handle on it, then tried to be quick with the throw,” said manager Bob Melvin. “He just kind of obviously threw it low and we didn’t get chance for a double play to get out of the inning there.”
“Very frustrating, especially for (starting pitcher) Frankie (Montas),” added Profar. “He was having a good game and it got out of hand because of that, I think.”
Indeed it did, as the Red Sox would storm back from a 4-0 deficit to score six runs in that inning and take firm command of the game.
For Profar, it was his seventh error of the season at second base, a position he had played just 67 games at prior to this season. This was his 27th game at second for Oakland.
Determined to continue to work hard on the defensive aspects of the position, Profar sought out the advice of Semien, who has also had to switch back and forth between middle infield positions during his career.
“From now on I’m ready to keep working,” Profar said. “I talked to Marcus a little bit and he talked to me about it, and what he did. So, I’m going to follow his steps and try to get better to help my team win.”
Mental miscue for Montas
Montas only lasted 4 2/3 innings on the night, the shortest of his six starts on the season.
And while the Profar error kept alive the inning in which the Red Sox did their most damage, it was the following play in which the A’s starter was charged with an error that got to the hurler the most.
A slow grounder to first had Montas charging hard to the bag when he received the throw from Kendrys Morales and seemed to beat out Andrew Benintendi, only to have the play called safe as Montas missed the base. A video replay of the play upheld the umpire’s initial decision.
“I kind of let that error, that play at first, get to my head a little bit,” explained Montas. “I was unable to hit my spots and make good pitches. They’re pretty good hitters.”
“He was pitching good, pitching with a lot of confidence it looked like,” said Melvin. “Then there were a bunch of baserunners out there and they were putting good swings on the balls, not trying to do too much, hitting up the middle, the other way, which they tend to do. The inning got a little bit out of control.”
After allowing nine hits and two walks in his last start, Montas gave up eight hits and two walks on Monday night, though six of the seven runs scored off him were unearned in the face of the two third-inning miscues.
“Errors are part of the game. I still need to stay in the game and make better pitches,” he said. “This is baseball, a lot of things happen.”
With the loss Montas, fell to 4-2 on the season.
Another Rodney appearance
Reliever Fernando Rodney came on to work the seventh inning, his 13th appearances for the A’s this season.
It was the 909th career appearance for the 41-year-old right-hander, who moved ahead of Eddie Guardado into sole possession of 23rd place all time in games pitched. That total is tops among active pitchers, with the next current pitcher being Tyler Clippard with 699 appearances.