Surkamp's poor start sends him to Nashville

Left-hander has 5.59 ERA through four starts in 2016

Surkamp's poor start sends him to Nashville

TORONTO -- Eric Surkamp's latest assignment was no walk in the park, but Sunday's start against a potent right-handed heavy Blue Jays lineup at least offered the left-hander yet another opportunity to keep grasp of a spot in Oakland's rotation.

Surkamp responded with mixed reviews in a 6-3 loss at Rogers Centre, done in by a four-run third inning that featured three straight two-out, run-scoring hits from the bottom of Toronto's lineup.

Already pitching with little margin for error, as Jesse Hahn waits his turn in Triple-A Nashville, Surkamp lasted just 4 2/3 innings, with six runs and nine hits allowed. He was optioned to Nashville on Monday.

Hahn remains on close watch in Nashville, where he allowed three runs -- all in the first inning -- and seven hits with three walks in 3 1/3 innings on Sunday, totaling 72 pitches on three days' rest after inclement weather threw off his schedule last week. But the A's opted on Monday to recall right-handerr Andrew Triggs from Nashville.

Surkamp, meanwhile, ended Sunday with a 5.59 ERA.

Though he felt he showcased better command than in previous outings, "I just got my [butt] kicked, pretty much all there is to it," Surkamp said. "They're a good lineup, you make mistakes and they're going to make you pay for it."

The A's held a 1-0 lead heading into the third inning, when Surkamp gave up a leadoff homer to Ezequiel Carrera and an ensuing double to Josh Donaldson but induced consecutive ground balls from Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion to ring up two outs. However, he started Troy Tulowitzki 3-0, leading the A's to intentionally walk him -- "We're going to take our chances with the next guy," A's manager Bob Melvin said postgame -- and bring up Justin Smoak.

Smoak, Kevin Pillar and Darwin Barney all singled in consecutive order, bringing in three runs. Surkamp returned to face the order a third time in the fourth and was bit by a two-run homer off the bat of Bautista after walking Donaldson.

"That's a tough lineup for him, with so many right-handed hitters with some power," Melvin said. "You get through one and there's just as dangerous of one behind him. Maybe not the best we've seen him. They squared him up a few times."

"They made some good swings on some really good pitches, almost like they knew they were coming," catcher Stephen Vogt said. "Their lineup is tough. You feel like if you get through two through five, you can take a deep breath, but you can't. Those guys are so good up and down that lineup."

Triggs was 2-1 with a 5.14 ERA and .214 opponents batting average in six relief appearances with Nashville. He has not allowed a home run and has struck out nine batters in seven innings. The 27-year-old right-hander was claimed off waivers from Baltimore on March 13. He spent the entire 2015 season with Double-A Bowie and went 0-2 with a 1.03 ERA, .196 OBA and 17 saves in 43 relief appearances. He will be making his Major League debut when called upon.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for since 2010. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.