MLB A’s arrive in Cleveland riding eight-game skid

To say things aren’t going well for the Oakland A’s is an understatement.

The Athletics arrive in Cleveland for the start of a four-game series against the Guardians on Thursday night having lost eight in a row and 11 of their past 12.

Following a 13-2 loss to the host Atlanta Braves on Wednesday that completed a two-game sweep, Oakland owns the second-lowest winning percentage in the majors, .345, ahead of just the Kansas City Royals (.327).

The A’s, who lost nine straight from April 29-May 8, have endured two losing streaks of at least eight games in a season for the first time since 2005.

Oakland ranks last in the majors in batting (.210), on-base percentage (.274) and slugging percentage (.320). The A’s are second-to-last in runs (187) and home runs (34).

After the Guardians won two of three games in the series against the hard-hitting Rangers to open the week — visiting Texas hit six home runs in the three games — Cleveland will face a team that has generated one home run in its past nine games.

“It takes momentum,” Oakland manager Mark Kotsay said recently about his team’s futile hitting. “We’re in a tough stretch here. We have to stick together. They are grinding. We have to take advantage of pitches in the zone and not miss them.”

The A’s will face Guardians rookie Konnor Pilkington (1-0, 2.65 ERA) in the series opener on Thursday. The left-hander has never faced Oakland.

Right-hander James Kaprielian (0-3, 6.06) will pitch for the A’s. He opposed Cleveland for the first time in his season debut, when he took the loss after allowing four runs on three hits in two-plus innings on May 1.

The Guardians have won seven of their past nine games to win three consecutive series. They have reached the .500 mark (26-26) for the first time since May 14, when they were 16-16.

In Cleveland’s 4-0 win over Texas on Wednesday, Shane Bieber pitched 4 1/3 innings before there was a 1-hour, 52-minute rain delay. He was trying desperately to get the final two outs to qualify for the win. When they stopped action, he was noticeably upset.

“I was obviously frustrated not going deeper in the ballgame,” Bieber said. “I would have loved to see how it ended up.”

After the long rain stoppage, relief pitcher Eli Morgan picked off Adolis Garcia from second base before he even threw a pitch.

Guardians manager Terry Francona said catcher Austin Hedges drew up the pickoff play in the dugout during the delay. Second baseman Andres Gimenez tagged out Garcia on the play.

“I was happy to see that work,” Gimenez said.

Gimenez bashed two doubles in the game to raise his batting average to .310. His 30 RBIs are second on the team to Jose Ramirez’s American League-leading 54.

“I’m trying to be consistent every night and put the barrel on the ball,” Gimenez said.

Much of his damage has been against left-handers, against whom he is hitting .423 (11-for-26).

“He had some good swings off lefties,” Francona said. “Sometimes we see young guys get better before your eyes. You can see his confidence growing.”

–Field Level Media

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