OAKLAND - The Major League debut for A's starting pitcher Raul Alcantara was hardly the stuff dreams are made of.
The 23-year-old from the Dominican Republic hit three batters in the first inning and was out of the game after the third with the A's on their way to a 10-7 loss to the Angels.
Still, Alcantara was in the big leagues two years after having been derailed from the MLB fast track by Tommy John-style ligament replacement surgery in his right arm, and the A's plan to have him stay in the rotation, so one poor start can't completely overshadow that.
Alcantara, who made just three starts in 2014 before needing surgery and who then missed the first two months of the 2015 season, was all over the place with his pitches in his Labor Day debut, hitting Mike Trout, Jefry Marte and finally Jett Bandy with pitches as part of a three-run first inning.
In becoming the first A's pitcher in almost a century - Bill Knowlton in 1920 - to hit three batters in his Major League debut, Alcantara wound up throwing 61 pitches, giving up five runs on five hits, one walk, the three hit batters and a balk. Presumably he'll have a longer career than Knowlton, who never pitched in the big leagues again.
Since Alcantara built his resume on control - just three walks in 312/3 innings while going 4-0 with a 1.18 ERA at Nashville - the first-game lack of command might just be the result of nerves. Nerves or not, the A's had some scrambling to do when Alcantara came out of the game. Tuesday's scheduled starter, lefty Ross Detwiler, took over and pitched the next three innings, leaving the A's short a starting pitcher for Tuesday.
The A's could move up the MLB debut for Jharel Cotton from Wednesday to Tuesday, they could call someone else up from Nashville with the Sounds due to start the Pacific Coast League playoffs Wednesday, or, most likely, they could take someone already on the roster like Zach Neal, who pitched 32/3 innings of relief Friday but who has made six starts.
Monday also saw the return of lefty Sean Doolittle. The lefty reliever pitched the seventh inning after having missed the previous 59 games thanks to a strained left shoulder. He threw a scoreless inning, giving up one hit while striking out two and throwing 21 pitches.
With Alcantara's hit batters leading to an early 3-0 Angels lead, the A's got two runs back right away with Danny Valencia's two-run homer in the bottom of the first.
The Anaheim crew stretched the lead to 5-2 against Alcantara, then Detwiler gave up three runs in his first inning of work.
Down 8-2, the A's got three runs on the first career RBI for Joey Wendle and a two-run double from Bruce Maxwell to make it 8-5 after four innings, then added a sixth run on a Ryan Healy double in the fifth.
Oakland got within one run at 8-7 when Khris Davis hit his 35th homer in the seventh, but the A's left the bases loaded in the seventh and left two men on in the eighth before a couple of Oakland errors by second baseman Chad Pinder and left fielder Davis opened the way for a couple of runs in the ninth as the Angels tucked this one away.
Oakland, now 58-79, has lost six of seven and 24 of its last 35 and is now four games behind the Angels in the battle to avoid a last place finish in the American League West.
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