On Sunday, German Marquez was the latest in a line of three straight young starting pitchers to somehow hold the Oakland Athletics offense at bay.
After scoring 41 runs in four games against the Texas Rangers, the A’s were held to two runs in their first two games against Colorado Rockies, thanks to starters Antonio Senzatela and Kyle Freeland. Marquez continued the trend, pitching the Rockies to a 3-2 win, and a sweep — Oakland’s first series loss since mid-June.
Marquez held Oakland (61-46) to two runs over 7 2/3 innings on a pair of solo homers. After he left, Scott Oberg struck out Matt Chapman for the final out of the eighth inning and Wade Davis pitched a perfect ninth for his 30th save. Marquez’s gem capped off a month in which Rockies starters posted a 1.71 ERA, bookended by three-game sweeps of Bay Area teams.
A’s starter Frankie Montas labored through 4 1/3 innings, allowing just three runs, but yielding eight hits and a pair of walks. He did strike out six, but a two-run homer by Tom Murphy in the second inning and an RBI double by Ryan McMahon in the third provided all the needed offense for Colorado (57-47). McMahon, called up from Triple-A earlier in the day, doubled twice in the first three innings against Montas, who was removed just before he could face McMahon again in the fifth.
While Oakland’s starting pitching struggled at high altitude, the bullpen was once again sharp. Yusmeiro Petit entered with men on first and second but got the final two outs of the fifth, and he set down all three men he faced in the sixth inning. A diving catch by Nick Martini in center got Lou Trivino through a spotless seventh inning, and Emilio Pagan set the Rockies down in order in the eighth.
Despite the bullpen keeping things close, the A’s were never able to get the big hit needed to break through. Chapman’s solo homer in the top of the fourth got them on the board, and Khris Davis led off the seventh with an opposite-field shot to cut the lead to a run, but there would never be another major chance. In fact, after going 2-for-19 with men in scoring position over the first two games of the weekend, the A’s would never even get a chance with one on Sunday.
Part of that was due to Colorado’s excellent defense, highlighted as always by Nolan Arenado. Matt Olson followed Davis’ homer with a single, but Stephen Piscotty flew out and Arenado turned a hard-hit grounder by Marcus Semien into a double play, making a sharp backhand stop on a ball that would be a double down the line against most third basemen. The Rockies also made a pair of nice defensive plays in the sixth inning as McMahon snared a Chapman liner and Pat Valaika made an impressive diving stop to rob Jed Lowrie of a hit.
The last time Oakland lost a series was a sweep at the hands of the Houston Astros, back on June 12-14. They had won 10 series since then, and split one with the Chicago White Sox. The A’s now come home to face the Toronto Blue Jays (48-56) three times, then a three-game set with the Detroit Tigers (45-62) before hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers (59-47) in a 1988 World Series rematch.