A’s Dillon Overton is Struggling

August 6, 2016 GMT

OAKLAND -- Not much has gone right for A’s left-hander Dillon Overton in his five major league starts this season.

It’s bad enough that he is 1-3 with a ghastly 10.33 ERA and has surrendered nine home runs, including two in the first inning of Friday’s 7-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs. To make matters worse, neither he nor manager Bob Melvin can pinpoint anything specific he’s doing wrong.

“Believe it or not, I was hitting my spots better tonight,” Overton said after Friday night’s loss. “My pitches were working good. They just hit everything I threw.”

Melvin agreed with that assessment before Saturday’s game against the Cubs.

“He’s trying,” the manager said. “It just seems like every mistake he makes ends up being a home run.”

Overton lacks overpowering stuff -- he’s not going to blow hitters away with a blazing fastball. For that reason, he has to make his living on the corners of the plate.

Cubs left-hander Jon Lester did that well enough Friday, limiting the A’s to one hit through five scoreless innings before they broke through in the sixth. However, Overton struggled to do the same -- the Cubs sat on his pitches, forced him to groove his pitches toward the middle of the plate and feasted on them when he did.

“It’s tough to win a game like that,” Melvin said. “His fastball doesn’t have the best movement, but he’s not afraid to pitch inside and he has a good breaking ball.

“He has some weapons. He’s just having a difficult time up here.”

Having bounced between Triple-A Nashville and the A’s for much of the season, reliever Andrew Triggs made a solid case to stick around for a while Friday night.

After replacing Overton to start the fourth inning, the right-hander struck out sluggers Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, then got cleanup hitter Ben Zobrist to ground out.

Triggs’ performance gave the A’s bullpen some much-needed momentum. Triggs, Daniel Coulombe and Marc Rzepczynski combined to allow three baserunners in the final six innings.

“It was nice to be able to put a stop to the scoring for the other team and give our team a chance to catch up,” Triggs said. “Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.”

Melvin was more appreciative of the fact that he didn’t have to burn through too many arms to keep the Cubs from doing more damage.

“Not only did they put up zeroes, we didn’t have to use more guys,” Melvin said. “You always look for silver linings in a game like that.”

To hear A’s pitcher David Manaea tell it, with the Cubs in town, games feel as though they might as well be played at Wrigley Field.

Judging by the number of fans wearing blue caps and jerseys, Cubs fans easily outnumbered A’s fans Friday and Saturday.

“The Cubs have a huge fan base wherever they go,” said Manaea, who grew up in a part of Indiana not far from Chicago where fans were equally split between Cubs and White Sox. “You could feel that last night.”

The A’s celebrated the “Billy Ball” era by wearing throwback caps and jerseys reminiscent of the 1981 team, which was managed by Billy Martin. The caps were a lighter shade of green, and the jerseys were bright yellow.

Melvin, who grew up in the Bay Area, recalled the “Billy Ball” team fondly.

“It was a very exciting brand of ball,” he said. “They had the right guys to play the style of ball that (Martin) wanted to play.”