Rockies 5, Athletics 1: Despite loss, an encouraging outing from Luzardo

OAKLAND — A’s left-hander Jesús Luzardo was in disbelief. He had stopped a hard ground ball from Charlie Blackmon and had plenty of time to throw to first base to get the out.

But after an almost half-hearted throw over to Matt Olson, Blackmon was called safe, and two runners came around to score in the ninth inning to pad the Colorado Rockies’ lead. Luzardo, almost wide-eyed, put his hands on top of his head in incredulity.

“I thought I had more time than I actually did,” Luzardo said after the A’s 5-1 loss. “That was my fault.”

It was a tough moment in an otherwise encouraging outing from Luzardo, who, after a 67-pitch outing, is now on track to possibly make his first start of the season Monday in Seattle at the end of the A’s upcoming four-game series with the Mariners.

Luzardo threw 3 2/3 innings, allowing three hits and three runs with five strikeouts. His fastball was overpowering at times, touching 98 mph at one point, but he also mixed in an effective slider and a changeup he could throw for strikes.

“I think my arm’s ready (to start),” Luzardo said. “Especially after this time, getting my pitch count even higher than it was before. I think I’m ready in terms of arm strength and how I feel.”

All of it less than four weeks after it was disclosed that he had contracted the coronavirus.

“You see a lot of bad swings off of him,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “The velocity’s there, the breaking ball’s there. Throwing 2-0 changeups to lefties. His stuff’s great, and to have it in this fashion after missing a significant period of time in summer camp is impressive.”

Luzardo’s only appearance came July 25, when he allowed one hit and one walk in three innings of relief. Now adequately stretched out, he’ll be a welcome addition to an A’s starting staff that had some uneven moments during a 3-3 homestand.

The A’s game Friday will be the first of 30 in a 31-game stretch.

Other takeaways from Wednesday.

Misery at the plate continues: Matt Chapman’s solo home run in the first inning was all of the offense the A’s could muster, as they finished with five hits, went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left eight on base.

Rockies starter German Marquez allowed four hits, including the Chapman homer, and struck out eight.

“We took some bad swings off of him today in some decent counts,” Melvin said of Marquez. “It’s just about getting the big hit when the opportunity was there.”

Trailing by two, the A’s had runners on first and second with no outs in the eight inning. But after Matt Canha was hit by a pitch to load the bases with two outs, Rockies reliever Jairo Diaz struck out Robbie Grossman to end the threat.

The A’s were 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position the two games against Colorado after they went 6-for-19 in the season-opening four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels.

Melvin sat Khris Davis on Wednesday and made Ramón Laureano the designated hitter. Made sense, since Davis is off to an 0-for-15 start this season with seven strikeouts and Laureano was 7-for-17 in five games.

But Laureano struck out three times.

OAKLAND, CA – JULY 29: Oakland Athletics’ Seth Brown (15) pops out to Colorado Rockies second baseman Chris Owings (12) to end the ninth inning of a MLB game at the Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, July 29, 2020. Rockies beat the Athletics 5-1. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group) 

Progress from Montas: Montas took the loss on Wednesday — his first loss since April 29, 2019 at Boston — but became the first A’s starter this season to pitch five complete innings.

Montas wiggled out of a couple jams as he allowed two runs and five hits. In his first start on Opening Night on July 24, Montas went four innings, struck out five and walked three in 81 pitches.

“He got better as he went along actually, so that’s a good sign,” Melvin said. “He got command of his breaking ball, he had a better (splitter). All the way around, just pitched really well.”

No replay luck: Umpires took another look at the eighth inning play where Blackmon beat out the throw from Luzardo. It could have gone either way, but the safe call stood.

In the fourth inning, though, it looked like the A’s had a legitimate gripe when Olson was called out by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds after he slid into home plate — which would have tied the game 2-2.

Stephen Piscotty grounded a Marquez pitch to third base with two outs and Nolan Arenado — a seven-time Gold Glove winner — made the curious decision to throw home and not first base. Olson, running home from third, was called out but appeared safe on replay. The call was upheld after a video review.

“Over the years we feel we’ve had a tough time with the close calls on replays,” Melvin said. “It didn’t decide the game, but it can be frustrating.”

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Author: Curtis Pashelka