All outta magic: Lifeless A’s bats prevent a sweep of Reds

After two nights of drama, Oakland can't give Chris Bassitt any offensive support

  • Matt Chapman #26 of the Oakland Athletics tags out Eugenio Suarez #7 of the Cincinnati Reds on a stolen base attempt in the eighth inning at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on May 09, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

  • Chris Bassitt #40 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Cincinnati Reds in the third inning at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on May 09, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

  • Matt Olson #28 of the Oakland Athletics catches a foul ball hit by Jose Peraza #9 of the Cincinnati Reds in the eighth inning at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on May 09, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

  • Michael Lorenzen #21 of the Cincinnati Reds slides safely in to second base for a stolen base as the ball gets away from Chad Pinder #18 of the Oakland Athletics in the ninth inning at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on May 09, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

  • Chris Bassitt #40 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Cincinnati Reds in the first inning at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on May 09, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

  • Derek Dietrich #22 of the Cincinnati Reds taps the head of third base coach J.R. House #56 as he rounds the bases after he hit a two-run home run in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on May 09, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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OAKLAND — With the first two games of Oakland’s interleague series against Cincinnati serving up a no-hitter and a 13th-inning walk-off homer, Thursday the A’s simply ran out of magical moments.

A lackluster offense that produced six hits, but couldn’t string any together, prohibited Oakland from completing its third sweep of the season and yielded a 3-0 loss. The A’s had plenty of opportunity, but couldn’t muster a timely hit when they needed one.

The offense for the A’s has been finicky. Minus a 14-1 stomping of Pittsburgh on May 3, Oakland has only scored five runs in a game once since April 25 — and that came Wednesday night on Stephen Piscotty’s walk-off solo shot in the 13th.

Being without Khris Davis on Thursday, who was unavailable for the game as he rests from a left hip contusion sustained in Pittsburgh, certainly didn’t help either.

“The [lack of offense] has been for a significant period,” manager Bob Melvin said postgame. “A normal day we’re able to spread [the offense] around the lineup, even down at the bottom we can do some damage, it’s just not happening right now.”

“We’re still hit and miss,” he added. “We have some good games, more bad than good right now. A couple of good games, hopefully we start swinging the bats like we’re capable of.”

The A’s had their “couple of good games” on Tuesday and Wednesday, but fell lifeless against Tanner Roark and the Reds. Roark held A’s hitters to just three hits in his six innings of work, with no baserunner passing second.

Matt Olson collected two hits — a leadoff single in the second inning and a two-out double in the fourth — but the big hit opportunity Oakland needed never materialized, spoiling a commendable outing and quality start from Chris Bassitt.

Bassitt made just two mistakes early in his seven-and-two-thirds innings of work, but they were big ones. A cool, overcast day in Oakland provided enough carry to feel like the friendly- confines of Great American Ball Park.

Perhaps the carry ignited a sense of familiarity for Reds hitters. Derek Dietrich took advantage of a hanging curveball from Bassitt in the bottom of the first. Dietrich, slated as Cincinnati’s designated hitter, lofted a high fly ball to right field that just kept going, sailing over the leaping grasp of Piscotty at the wall for a two-run blast.

No carry was necessary for Eugenio Suarez’s solo shot two frames later, however. A full-count no-doubter to left-center off Bassitt’s cutter that backed right over the plate made it a 3-0 game, a lead insurmountable for Oakland’s comatose offense.

“I feel like I’ve made four or five mistakes my last few outings and I feel like those four or five mistakes have all been home runs,” Bassitt lamented. “It’s frustrating, but at the same time you have to tip your hat. [Josh] Bell obviously got me last week [in Pittsburgh] and Dietrich this week, and the other home run comes off a backup cutter. That’s baseball.”

The two early homers marred an otherwise solid outing from Bassitt, who settled down after the third and utilized his off-speed pitches to breeze his way through the next four innings. In his longest start of the season, he allowed seven hits and issued one walk while striking out nine on 93 pitches – 69 for strikes. His nine punchouts matched a season-high two starts ago in the A’s loss to Toronto on April 28, and fell one short of his career-high — a 10-strikeout effort on August 9, 2015 vs. Houston.

“I felt really good,” Bassitt added. “It’s kind of awkward giving up two runs in the first, but you know it’s going to be a good day. I mean right away, I told [catcher Josh Phegley], ‘We’re good to go.’ Last start I wasn’t great, I felt off, but I knew basically from pitch one [today] it was going to be good.”

The ballgame evidently came down to those two pitches, saddling Bassitt with the hard-luck loss — his first of the year. And although the offensive woes are a heaping serving on Melvin’s plate, not lost on the day was the third respectable start from Oakland’s rotation in as many days.

“We’re pitching better,” Melvin said. “We’re not getting our timing right as far as offensively. It allows us days like today, to not have to use our bullpen which was used quite a bit last night. Earlier in the season, we used these guys a lot. Now the starters are going deep in games and it gives everyone a little bit of a break. Down the road, we should benefit from that.”

The A’s hope to benefit sooner rather than later from their heavy-hitters, who flashed signs of life in the series before falling stagnant Thursday. Marcus Semien believes the team’s power is coming back.

“It’s getting better,” he said. “Profar’s been hitting some home runs, Piscotty had a walk-off home run. This ballpark, as you guys know, is not one of the best to hit in. So we have to do a better job of hitting the ball hard.”

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