HOUSTON – Josh Reddick had a way of stealing the spotlight when he played for the A’s, and he did it again Friday as a member of the Astros in helping hand Oakland its fifth straight loss, 9-4.
Reddick took part in three Houston rallies, two of them because he joined the rare club of just seven men who have reached base on catcher’s interference twice in the same game. And he came up with a catch that saved two runs against A’s DH Ryon Healy, a player with whom Reddick got closed in their brief time together in 2016.
So on a night when one might reasonably deduce that Khris Davis’ American League-leading eighth and ninth homers might command center stage, Reddick stole the show.
“I do it every now and then, but I’ve never even heard of someone doing it twice in one game,” Reddick said of the catcher’s interference calls. The first one was the most damaging for the A’s, extending as it did what could have been a shutout inning for starter Jharel Cotton with the A’s up 3-0 and transforming it somehow into a three-run Astros rally.
#Astros Josh Reddick on his two catcher’s interference calls vs.#Athletics C Stephen Vogt: pic.twitter.com/mWZTcVBzWl
— John Hickey (@JHickey3) April 29, 2017
The A’s credited the interference calls to Reddick, someone who already has a long swing, making it even longer by trying to drive the ball to left field. Reddick wasn’t so sure.
“I don’t feel like I’m going back on the ball. I feel like swing is right where I need it to be,” Reddick said “Maybe he’s coming up too much or I’m letting it get too deep. It’s surprising, but I’ll take it. I’ll take it any time I can get on base.”
Vogt said “it’s on me” when talking about the interference calls and said the A’s needed to do a better job playing behind Cotton. At the same time, the veteran catcher didn’t seem to be 100 percent clear on what he needed to do differently.
“Typically I’m pretty far back,” Vogt said. “Reddick has a pretty long swing when he’s trying to go the other way. There are only two people who have ever gotten me, Jacoby Ellsbury and Josh Reddick. So I’m pretty far back.
“It’s one of those freak things that obviously I’m not real thrilled about. It’s the perfect storm of pitch location and him having a long swing when he’s going the other way. That’s on me. I’ve got to make sure I’m far enough back and not reaching for the ball.”
A game like Friday is far too broad to sit on any one man’s shoulders. The A’s struck out a season-high 14 teams. They made three errors, two on Vogt for the interference calls and another on second baseman Jed Lowrie that brought his 75-game errorless streak to an ended and enabled the Astros to score two unearned runs in the fifth. Cotton chipped in with a balk. Davis’ first homer was the only hit with a man in scoring position.
It’s a pattern that is not new.
In their last 14 games the A’s have lost four in a row, won five in a row and now lost five in succession. Those results leave Oakland six games out of first place in the American League West with a 10-13 record. The A’s didn’t get that far out of first last season until May 10.
“When we went through the winning streak we played real clean games,” manager Bob Melvin. “And now we’re a little shoddy. There’s a psychological play that goes with that. When you’re not making the plays at times and you are giving extra outs, it makes it tough on the pitchers and it’s tough mentally sometimes when you aren’t playing clean games.
“When you are playing clean games, it seems like you’re in and out and you are better in synch.”
#Athletics Jharel Cotton was looking for a shutdown inning in bottom of first with 3-0 lead, but that didn’t happen pic.twitter.com/WC3Q19eZMC
— John Hickey (@JHickey3) April 29, 2017
Davis hit a three-run shot in the first inning, and after that leave evaporated, he broke a 3-all tie with a solo homer in the third. The A’s would only get two more hits against Astros starter Charlie Morton, who struck out a career high 12 batters in seven innings.
Vogt threw out Alex Bregman on a steal try as part of an Astros’ hit-and-run attempt in the fourth inning. It was the first time Vogt had thrown out a runner successfully after 12 steals against him. Dating back to last year, opposing runs had been successful on 14 consecutive tries.
Vogt was also charged with two errors, one for each of the catcher’s interference calls. It stands as the first two-error game of Vogt’s career.
Reddick’s big catch saw him race to the warning track against Healy with two out and two on in the eighth. The A’s were down three runs at that point. Once the ball settled in Reddick’s glove to end the inning, the A’s wouldn’t get another chance. “When you can make a catch against a guy you became pretty good buddies with in a tight situation,” Reddick said, “it adds a little bit more. I’ll be giving Ryan a lot of crap, I guess you could say.”
Lowrie muffed a grounder with one out in the fifth inning, setting in motion a two-run rally for the Astros in which both runs would be unearned. It was the first error at second base in 75 games for Lowrie, ending the third-longest errorless streak for an Oakland second baseman.
Sean Manaea will almost certainly miss his next start after coming up with shoulder tightness in his start Tuesday and lasting just two innings against the Angels. Manaea threw on the side before Friday’s game but Melvin said he didn’t see how Manaea could make it back to health in time for a Tuesday start. The manager said the team was contemplating whether or not to put Manaea on the disabled list.
That being the case, Sonny Gray will come off the disabled list and make that start Tuesday in Minneapolis against the Twins. It will be his first start of the season after having spent much of the last two months recovering from a right shoulder strain. “I feel great,” Gray said after rejoining the club Friday afternoon. “I got up six times, threw six innings and I feel good again today. There’s no doubt in my mind I’m ready.” He threw up to 94 mph and didn’t walk a batter in either of his two injury rehabilitation starts.
Daniel Mengden, who has spent all of March and April recovering from foot surgery, will take his recovery up a notch Saturday in Arizona when he throws a batting practice session against live hitters.
The A’s expect to see reliever John Axford when they make their stop in Minneapolis next week. He’s coming back from a shoulder strain and has been throwing out to 120 feet. The next step for him would be throwing batting practice, and the A’s want to be able to watch him do in as the perhaps could join the club mid-month.