Immediately after a seven-game winning streak, the Oakland Athletics are back in another pronounced slide
The worst team in the majors will aim to halt a five-game losing skid when they visit the Cleveland Guardians on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series
This is the seventh time this season that Oakland, with only 19 wins, has lost at least five straight games. The worst stretch was 11 from May 17-28.
The A's displayed life when they won two games from the Pittsburgh Pirates, three contests from the Milwaukee Brewers and two more from the major league-leading Tampa Bay Rays earlier this month.
But the Rays won the final two games of that series and the Philadelphia Phillies followed by winning three games in Oakland over the weekend.
The A's dropped the last two games by an identical 3-2 score, the first in 12 innings when they were just 1-for-19 with runners in scoring position.
Playing competitive games against the defending National League champions led Oakland manager Mark Kotsay to embrace the optimistic view of the most recent series.
"We really had a chance to win all three games," Kotsay said. "If you asked me in April if I thought we would play that well, I would probably have a different answer. We continue to make improvements.
"We'll continue to address the runners in scoring position and the at-bats that need to be taken to capitalize. If we can continue to improve in that area, we're going to win more games."
Cleveland was sputtering with four setbacks in five games before blowing out the host Arizona Diamondbacks 12-3 on Sunday to salvage the finale of a three-game series.
The Guardians left 15 runners on base over the first two games, including 10 on Friday, before going 7-for-16 with runners in scoring position on Sunday
"I think we had a really good approach," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. "If you don't stay middle, you're going to make some easy outs, rollovers, and we stayed through the middle of the field really well."
Josh Naylor went 4-for-5 with three RBIs on Sunday. He had a 14-game hitting streak when the team arrived in the desert but was hitless in nine at-bats over the first two games.
"When you see him swinging and his helmet's not coming off, he's going to be just fine," Francona said. "There's so much to like about his swing."
Amed Rosario went 6-for-9 over the final two games and Steven Kwan was 5-for-11. Kwan scored four runs and drove in three on Sunday.
Right-hander Aaron Civale (2-2, 2.67 ERA) will start the opener for Cleveland.
Civale lost to the San Diego Padres on Wednesday when he gave up two runs and five hits over 3 2/3 innings. He recorded season highs of seven strikeouts, four walks and two homers.
Civale, 28, missed nearly two months earlier this season due to an oblique injury.
His lone career start against Oakland came in a 9-8 win on April 29, 2022. Civale allowed six runs and seven hits over four innings in a no-decision.
Rookie right-hander Luis Medina (1-6, 7.55) will be on the mound for Oakland.
Medina fell to the Rays on Wednesday when he gave up four runs and eight hits over 4 2/3 innings. He struck out five and walked one.
His lone victory came in his previous start when he allowed two runs and three hits over five innings against the Brewers.
This will be Medina's seventh big league start and ninth appearance.
The Guardians won two of three at Oakland on April 3-5
--Field Level Media