Thursday, April 14, 2016

Calhoun, Shoemaker lead Halos to sweep of A's

Right-hander Matt Shoemaker strung together six scoreless innings on Wednesday afternoon, limiting the A's to one hit while getting an assist from Kole Calhounand Albert Pujols, who each drove in a pair of runs to help the Angels secure their fourth straight win, 5-1, for a three-game series sweep at the Oakland Coliseum.
Calhoun finished with three hits, including a double in the eighth, when he scored onAndrelton Simmons' ensuing base hit. The A's, meanwhile, managed just three hits all day, one of them a home run from shortstop Marcus Semien in the eighth inning -- his third in two days and fourth this season.
Oakland starter Eric Surkamp lasted 4 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits and four walks (one intentional) with one strikeout. Right-hander Liam Hendriks surrendered two more in the ninth on four consecutive singles, including Pujols' two-run base hit, as the A's fell to 4-6, including 1-6 at home.
"I think we're better than this, and I'm not gonna shy away from saying it," the A's Chris Coghlan said. "I think that we can be better than [the Angels]. They out-executed us, and a lot of that has to do with experience. Hopefully we can learn from that and when there are bigger situations, we can execute better next time we play them."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Shoe fits: Shoemaker recovered from a rough first start in a big way, keeping the A's scoreless through six innings and allowing only four baserunners. The 29-year-old right-hander gave up only one hit, pitching around three walks and striking out five. It was a very encouraging outing, especially considering he gave up six runs and recorded only nine outs in his debut against the Rangers.
"It's a long season, but we know we can do this the whole season," Shoemaker said. "It's just a matter of going out there and doing it. That aggressive mentality is what I needed to see. I knew it was there, but actually doing it, that was definitely good."
Slow out of the gates: An A's offense that has struggled to produce consistent results in this young season once again flailed, reaching base only seven times -- including once on an error. Semien's sudden power surge was the lone offensive highlight of the series, with the shortstop tallying two long balls in Tuesday's loss ahead of Wednesday's solo shot off of right-hander Fernando Salas in the eighth. Oakland has plated two runs or fewer in four of its first 10 games, averaging 2.7 in that span.
"It's contagious both ways at times, and right now, they're working, trying, just not getting hard contact right now, let alone some hits other than Marcus, who has had a good couple of days," A's manager Bob Melvin said.
Kole world: Calhoun lined a couple of two-out RBI singles into left-center field in the third and fifth innings. The Angels' offense is off to a sluggish start, but Calhoun, who has spent all year batting fifth or sixth, has 12 hits in 31 at-bats, good for a .387 batting average. Calhoun also doubled down the left-field line in the eighth and scored on Simmons' RBI single.
"Just not trying to do too much," Calhoun said of his hot start. "Trying to put the ball in play, getting on base and trying to make something happen."
Always Dull: A's reliever Ryan Dull, seemingly a magician with men on base, came through again for the club in the fifth inning following Surkamp's departure with men on first and second and two outs. The right-hander made quick work of Simmons, needing just three pitches to induce an inning-ending pop fly and keep the A's within striking distance. Dull has stranded all six of his inherited runners this season.
QUOTABLE
"I think we see the potential to be that team. I think this team is going to continue to improve as the summer goes on. I think we'll get comfortable and be able to evaluate some things as we get comfortable in some of the things we can do, and hopefully we can do them well. You can see things happening that are lining us up to be that team that we can be, but we have a long way to go." -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia, when asked if he's starting to see the team he envisioned
FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Lefty reliever Greg Mahle made his Major League debut in the bottom of the seventh and delivered a 1-2-3 inning, getting a flyout to right -- thanks to Calhoun's sliding catch in foul territory -- then a strikeout and a groundout. Mahle, a 22-year-old drafted in the 15th round in 2014, profiles as a lefty specialist, but his first two outs in that seventh inning came against righties.
WHAT'S NEXT
Angels: The Angels are off on Thursday before starting a three-game weekend against the Twins at Target Field, which marks the midway point of their three-city road trip. Garrett Richards gets the ball, opposite lefty Tommy Milone, in search of his first win this season. The hard-throwing right-hander has a 3.86 ERA through two starts.
Athletics: The A's will enjoy their first off-day of the season Thursday before returning to the Coliseum for the start of a three-game series with the defending world champion Royals. Left-hander Rich Hill gets the start in Friday's opener, scheduled for 7:05 p.m. PT. Hill allowed one run in six innings in his last start in Seattle, striking out 10 batters.

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