Chavez's pitches, and results, off the mark

A's right-hander feels strong, but command lapses prove costly

Chavez's pitches, and results, off the mark

NEW YORK -- Jesse Chavez's midseason struggles, reminiscent of those he endured last season, continued in a 6-2 loss to the Yankees on Thursday at Yankee Stadium. But the A's right-hander insists the reasons for his slide are different this time.

It was in July 2014 that fatigue caught up with Chavez, who was enjoying his first season as a regular starter before returning to the bullpen. But after giving up four runs in five innings on Thursday, Chavez said he feels "great" physically.

Chavez believes he simply needs to hit the "mental reset button" during the All-Star break.

"For me, personally, it happens every year," Chavez said. "It happened last year, it happened the year before, where I'm a little ... off, not mechanically or physically -- just location. Early on in the year, those pitches were getting swung at and into the ground, and now they're being taken for balls and I have to fight back into the count.

"That's the thing that kind of frustrates me, because they were swinging at it early in the year, and now it's not going that way."

A's manager Bob Melvin and catcher Stephen Vogt agreed that Chavez wasn't missing his spots by much on Thursday. The same could be said of the pitches on the first two hits -- the second a two-run single by Jacoby Ellsbury -- Chavez allowed in the fourth inning, both of which barely stayed inside the right-field foul line.

"It was kind of ironic that they had back-to-back hits that were fair by a total of about six inches," Vogt said. "He pitched way, way, way better than what it says in the newspaper.

"He was just literally half a ball away from being a strike. He had such good, late movement, too, and they were just really close."

Added Melvin: "I thought his stuff was pretty good, but he was just missing, just off the corner a couple times. It looked like he had decent movement, and then when he came onto the plate a little bit more, they got better swings out of them."

As a result, Chavez endured several lengthy innings, including a 27-pitch third and a 25-pitch fourth, and he walked three batters for just the third time this season. He sat at 93 pitches upon his exit after five innings, forcing three more innings from an A's bullpen that worked five frames in Wednesday night's 5-4 loss.

Chavez has pitched fewer than six innings in four of his last seven starts, posting a 5.27 ERA in that span, with 24 earned runs allowed in 41 innings.

He had a 2.38 ERA over his first eight starts.

"I feel fine; I feel great," Chavez said. "It's just a matter of keeping the pitches ahead of the count off the plate and the pitches behind in the count on. That's the difference, and it's the only thing I see.

"I set the bar so high at the beginning to where now it's expected, and I expect it of myself, because it's not right for me to do that, then go to this. That's where I'm at with my mentality, and it's going to stop soon."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.