OAKLAND — Matt Olson was a hero, sort of, for the Athletics on Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon for his pair of game-tying two-run home runs late in regulation, bringing the A’s back from the dead against the Los Angeles Angelsof Anaheim.
Then, in extra innings on Wednesday afternoon, he went from potential hero to zero.
An Olson mishandled bunt and an errant throw opened up a five-run inning for Los Angeles in a 12-7, 11-inning loss, a defeat which marked the first pair of consecutive losses for the A’s since mid-May, just before their 11-game unbeaten streak began. The loss also came just after the A’s fell just short of another would-be come-from-behind win.
“Obviously you want to win those games,” Olson added. “But you can’t win every one.”
Olson mishandled a bunt by Luis Rengifo in the top of the 11th with a pair of runners on and nobody out. Olson then threw an errant ball to first, which got past reliever Lou Trivino and scored Cesar Puello from second as the ball slowly rolled into right field, putting the Angels ahead 8-7, and advancing both Brian Goodwin and Rengifo to third and second, respectively.
“I bobbled it twice and it almost slipped,” Olson said. “It almost would’ve been better if the ball just fell to the ground and we’d still get an out out of it. But I rushed it and threw a cutter.”
Then the floodgates opened.
A Josh Phegley passed ball allowed Goodwin to score, then Tommy LaStella singled to right to score Rengifo. Former Athletics catcher Jonathan Lucroy singled to center to score two more as the Angels rocked the A’s for a five-run inning.
“It’s baseball,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “It just ended up not being our day. It’s not like these guys got pounded, but they put together some at-bats and made them throw some pitches. Give [the Angels] credit for winning the game.”
Olson, like he did in Tuesday night’s loss, tied the game in the eighth inning with another two-run, game-tying home run, this time tying the game at five apiece, capping the A’s then four-run comeback.
“They’re always going to fight,” Melvin said. “We just didn’t do enough today. The other team fought pretty hard too, without two of their bigger hitters in the lineup, but, we’re never going to back down, this group just doesn’t know how.”
Opener Liam Hendricks had a lackluster outing for the A’s early on Wednesday. After loading the bases with one out, he got Kole Calhoun to fly out to left, but Puello made him pay in the following at-bat with a two out single to center, scoring both LaStella and Shohei Ohtani to put the Angels up 2-0 in the opening frame.
“It didn’t work out,” Melvin said of Hendricks taking on the opener role Wednesday. “It looked like his stuff was pretty good, but it wasn’t as good as last night. We thought we had a strike three on Ohtani on the check swing [in the first inning] and that wasn’t called, then you get the big two-RBI hit.”
Hendricks pitched just the first inning, allowing the two runs on a pair of hits with a pair of walks. He struck out Brian Goodwin looking for his lone strikeout of the day.
“I felt fine,” Hendricks said about pitching on back-to-back days with a short turnaround from Tuesday night’s appearance. “I just wasn’t quite finishing pitches today. They laid off some pitches and they hit the pitches that I left in the zone.”
Daniel Mengden took the mound for the A’s in the second as the bulk man, and kept them in the game through the middle innings. Mengden retired the side in the second and didn’t concede his first hit of the game until two outs in the fourth inning when Jared Walsh singled with two outs. He finished with six strikeouts through 4 1/3 innings, giving up just four hits and one run.
Mengden’s lone blemish came in the fifth inning when Goodwin scored Calhoun on a single to right, extending the Angels’ then lead to 3-1.
The A’s battled back, with Marcus Semien cutting the Angels’ early 2-0 lead in half with a solo home run in the third, putting the A’s in striking distance at 2-1. Semien’s home run gave him homers in consecutive games for the first time since last September.
After closer Blake Treinen allowed a pair of go-ahead runs to the Angels in the ninth to put Los Angeles up 7-5, Mark Canha and Phegley tied the game right back for the A’s at 7-7. Canha launched a solo home run on the second pitch of the inning to make the score 7-6 and Phegley hit a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Jurickson Profar from third to tie.
Oakland has Thursday off before they take on the AL West-leading Houston Astros in a key divisional three-game weekend series.