Alfonso Soriano singled to left with one out against A’s starter Dan Straily. Starlin Castro, running at second, read the ball and seemed to be in good shape to score. Then Oakland left fielder Yoenis Cespedes unleashed a cannon of a throw to home, catcher Derek Norris applied a slick tag and Castro was out at the plate.
That was the only hit the Cubs registered off Straily in seven innings, and Chicago fell 1-0 before 26,967 fans at O.co Coliseum.
That fourth-inning play epitomized the Cubs’ offensive day. They didn’t get another runner past second base all afternoon.
Afterward, Castro was still shaking his head at being thrown out at home.
“It surprised me,” he said. “I thought I was gonna be safe, easy.
“I ran hard right away from second base and I’m surprised he got me out. I said, ‘Wow.’ [Soriano] didn’t even hit the ball that hard.”
Cespedes possesses one of the stronger outfield arms in the majors, but Cubs manager Dale Sveum was still in disbelief that Castro didn’t cross the plate safely.
“It seemed like a no-brainer right off the bat,” the manager said.
Did he think Castro was running hard, start to finish?
“As far as I know,” Sveum said. “I was watching the ball. I was shocked that anybody could get thrown out on that.”
Reliever Matt Guerrier took the loss in his Cubs debut.
Acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday for reliever Carlos Marmol, Guerrier entered in the bottom of the seventh. He had two outs and nobody on base when Oakland pieced together the game-winning rally.
Norris walked and went to third on Seth Smith’s single. Then Guerrier threw a low pitch that seemed to cross up his catcher, Welington Castillo, and the pitch squirted past him for a passed ball that scored Norris.
Castillo said it could have made a difference had he been more familiar with Guerrier, but he didn’t want to lean on that as an excuse.
“He just made a good pitch, and I think I just didn’t read it and it went through my legs,” Castillo said.
Pedro Strop, acquired in a trade from Baltimore on Tuesday, also made his bullpen debut and fired a 1-2-3 eighth.
Center fielder Brian Bogusevic left the game in the third inning with tightness in his left hamstring.
Sveum said the outfielder originally hurt himself in Wednesday’s game and is day-to-day.
The Cubs still finished 5-4 on its nine-game road trip and went 10-9 during a stretch when they played 16 of 19 on the road.