No defense for A's fielding woes

Eric Risberg/AP PhotoOakland Athletics relief pitcher Evan Scribner

OAKLAND —Things have gone so bad for the A’s in the field this season, they may want to consult someone named Sybil to change their split personality on defense.

After his team threw away another game Thursday, manager Bob Melvin had just about run out of possible solutions.

The Boston Red Sox eked out a 2-0 decision, and the way they did it was all too familiar for the home side. Their first run scored with the help of a wild pitch on strike three, and the second one came around on Marcus Semien’s errant throw with two outs.

Wasted was another gem by Sonny Gray, who allowed one run and struck out nine in seven innings. The loss was his first in five decisions this season.

Is there such a thing as a team-wide fielding slump, not unlike one at the plate?

“I don’t know,” Melvin was at a loss to explain the lapses. “It could be similar to where you’re struggling offensively. So it could be.”

In 36 games, the A’s have been charged with 36 errors, by far most in the major leagues. The Milwaukee Brewers (29) were next in line at the start of the day.

Now you know why the A’s have a downright ugly 2-16 record in games decided by one or two runs.

“We’ve got to straighten that up, too,” right fielder Josh Reddick said. “Defense has kind of been a downfall for us in the first month and a half. We’ve got to tighten up. That’s all it is.”

What’s strange is that the A’s can be Gold Gloves one inning, iron gloves the next. Coco Crisp made a diving stab in left-center field to rob Dustin Pedroia of extra bases in a one-run game.

“Right now, you’re right — that’s how it’s going,” Semien said. “We’ve made a lot of great plays. Coco made some awesome plays, [Eric] Sogard — everybody. We’ve got a lot of athleticism. We’ve got to harness it and focus on making the routine plays.”

In his first season as a regular shortstop in the big leagues, Semien has struggled more than anyone. He entered the game with the most errors (11) and the lowest fielding percentage (.922) among the 13 American League qualifiers at his position.

“There’s been relay plays, there’s been plays in the hole, there’s been all different kinds of plays,” Semien said. “My focus has to be just hitting the guy in the chest and work harder to do that.”

Melvin and his staff have tried to address the problem with different workout routines, but the results have been the same for the most part.

“It’s not like we’re a wholesale bad defensive team,” Melvin said. “We’re just not very timely. We’ve made our share of errors even though we have some guys that have the ability.”

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