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Athletics waste strong outing from Joey Estes as Angels complete sweep

Athletics waste strong outing from Joey Estes as Angels complete sweep

The Athletics’ bullpen came apart in the sixth inning Wednesday to negate a strong performance by starting pitcher Joey Estes and the result was a 5-2 win by the host Los Angeles Angels and a sweep of the three-game series.

It was the 11th consecutive road loss for the Athletics (29-54) and fifth in a row overall.

Even the routine process of touching home plate has become a challenge as the A’s lost a run in the second inning because Kyle McCann missed home plate on what should have been a two-run double by Max Schuemann. McCann was ruled out because he was touched by teammate Armando Alvarez before he could get back and touch the plate.

In the end, that was a sidelight given how little the A’s did on offense in what was a bullpen game by the Angels, who improved to 33-46.

“There’s a lot of mental mistakes we made in this series that we’ve got to clean up,” A’s  manager Mark Kotsay told reporters.

Estes worked out of trouble in the first inning and breezed into the sixth with a 1-0 lead until things came undone.

By the time the inning was over, Austin Adams had hit Mickey Moniak with a pitch with the bases loaded to tie the game and Zach Neto doubled down the left field line to bring back three more and the Angels led 4-1. T.J. McFarland was greeted by a double from Nolan Schaunel and Los Angeles led 5-1.

Estes was removed after his first unintentional walk on four pitches to Willie Calhoun, which ended his afternoon after 87 pitches, 63 of them strikes. He walked two and struck out eight.

“Joey threw great today,” Kotsay said. “He bounced back from a tough one in his last outing so he’s had two pretty good ones back to back. Unfortunately it didn’t work out. Adams has done a good job in tight situations, it just didn’t work out today.”

Adams walked Luis Guillorme to load the bases, then hit Moniak before Neto and Schanuel came through.

The A’s scored with two out in the second on a double to left center by Schuemann against starter Roansy Contreras but lost a potential second run when McCann, caught in between deciding to slide or stand up, stumbled and missed the plate after Alvarez had scored.

McCann realized his mistake, and so did Alvarez, who grabbed him by the shoulders and sent him back to touch the plate. One problem – Alvarez by rule can’t touch McCann. McCann was declared out and the A’s had a 1-0 lead instead of 2-0.

“I recognized the umpire made no call as he came across the plate and understood the call he was making in terms of the assistance from Alvarez pushing McCann back toward the plate — you can’t assist — I know the rule,” Kotsay said. “I wanted to verify they knew I was challenging whether he touched the plate.”

Kotsay challenged the call, making the case McCann had touched the plate. He clearly hadn’t, however.

“Our replay came back with what I thought he saw and unfortunately he didn’t touch the plate,” Kotsay said. “It was more of a shadow that looked like he got it.”

Alvarez, who had three hits Tuesday night, reached on a one-out single and McCann had walked against Contreras before Schuemann’s double.

The Angels put Estes on notice immediately in the bottom of the first with Schanuel hitting a single to left and Luis Rengifo a first-pitch double to right.

Nice opening act. Second and third, nobody out.

Estes got out of it with quality strikes. He got Taylor Ward on a pop-up to second, struck out Miguel Sano and then intentionally walked Willie Calhoun to load the bases. He then retired Kevin Pillar – who narrowly missed a grand slam when a drive to left curved foul – on a grounder to second for the third out.

Through five innings, Estes (2-3) had thrown just 65 pitches with 50 strikes before being removed 22 pitches into the sixth. Adams was charged with three earned runs and didn’t get a hitter out.

A Southern California product from Lancaster, Estes said he had between 20 and 25 friends and family at the game.

“I grew up coming here and Dodger Stadium so being able to pitch here is a dream come true,” Estes told reporters. “To pitch in front of my family, it’s an amazing feeling.”

Contreras pitched the first three innings for the Angels, and was followed by Hans Crouse, Matt Moore, Hunter Strickland and Guillermo Zuniga. Zuniga gave up a run in the ninth on a sacrifice fly by Schuemann. Moore (4-2) was the winning pitcher.

Down by four runs, Kotsay got an inning of work for Mason Miller in the eighth with Thursday being an off day. Miller didn’t give up a run, surrendering a two-out infield single to Neto. He struck out two batters.


— Since Kotsay had used the challenge on the McCann play, the A’s didn’t have one available when it appeared Estes had possibly picked off Luis Rengifo in the fateful sixth after a leadoff single.

Estes said he wasn’t sure if Rengifo was out or not.

“I have no idea,” Estes said. “I was just trying to keep him honest.”


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