OAKLAND — Four games, 10 runs, three losses and a plethora of missed opportunities.
A small sample size to be sure, but definitely not the kind of start to the season that Oakland manager Bob Melvin had in mind.
The Athletics were stymied at the plate yet again, this time by Mat Latos and four relievers in a 6-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.
“We weren’t getting many good swings,” Melvin said. “We have some guys with some track records, we have some guys that can hit. We swung the bat well coming into the season. In this series (we) did not. But I expect us to come around.”
Latos gave up one hit over six shutout innings for his first win since last July, Jose Abreu hit a two-run homer and the White Sox gave manager Robin Ventura his 300th career win.
A free agent who struggled this spring after signing with Chicago in the offseason, Latos (1-0) was stellar in his White Sox debut while striking out two and walking one.
He retired 13 of the first 14 batters and didn’t allow a baserunner until Chris Coghlan’s one-out single in the fifth — one pitch after left fielder J.B. Shuck dropped Coghlan’s foul ball.
“A lot of it helped with having (backup catcher Dioner Navarro) behind the plate,” Latos said. “I didn’t shake him once. Actually I did and then he kind of looked at me sideways, and I was, ‘OK, whatever you want.'”
Abreu homered on a 1-1 pitch from Oakland starter Kendall Graveman in the sixth. The White Sox slugger added a sacrifice fly during Chicago’s four-run ninth.
It’s been a good start to the season for the White Sox, who outscored the A’s 16-10 while taking three of four in the series.
Zach Duke, Matt Albers, Nate Jones and Zach Putnam combined to pitch the final three innings, completing the four-hitter for Chicago.
Dioner Navarro, Tyler Saladino and Melky Cabrera added RBI singles in the ninth.
Graveman (0-1) pitched well, too, despite being ill with flu-like symptoms earlier this week. He allowed three hits in 5 2/3 innings with four strikeouts and one walk.
Coghlan singled home Oakland’s lone run in the ninth off Putnam.
“You look at the four starters we faced, those are four really good pitchers,” A’s catcher Stephen Vogt said. “We’re going to catch our stride here. Once we get rolling, this team’s going to hit and we feel good about that.”
STILL THE MAN
There was some uncertainty about who the A’s closer would be after Oakland pitched lefty Sean Doolittle in the first two games and then used right-hander Ryan Madson in Wednesday’s win. Melvin said he’s open to using both relievers in the role depending on the circumstances but was adamant that the job is Doolittle’s. “If there is some matchup in the eighth that would suggest more of a lefty … we would make an adjustment that way,” Melvin said. “But as we sit here Sean’s our closer when you’re breaking down where our bullpen is.”
Eric Surkamp will be called up from the minors to start in Seattle on Friday.