To say the A’s bats have been quiet would be an understatement. The silence resembles that of the deepest, darkest reaches of outer space. To say their bats have been sleeping, would be a mischaracterization. Their bats are in a true state of hibernation, one that the weariest of grizzly bears would be envious of. It’s been a tough stretch for the Athletics, and while they managed to stretch their lead in the AL West all the way out to six games just over a week ago despite their offensive issues, that lead has evaporated now. With tonight’s loss to the Cincinnati Reds, and the Texas Rangers victory over the Los Angeles Angels, the Rangers now trail the A’s by just one game in the division. What many fans thought might be the beginning of the end of this race, and figured the A’s would coast to a second straight division title, has once again become a dogfight, and the A’s appear to have little fight left at the moment.
I can already hear the many A’s fans screaming at their computer screens that the season is far from over, and that every season has its ups and downs, I’m not by any means saying the team is done. But right now they simply look like they don’t have the will to retake control of this division, frankly they look ready to hand the reigns over to the Rangers.
This two-game series versus the Reds was not going to be easy, and the A’s were unfortunate enough to face two of their toughest pitchers. Tonight it was Mat Latos, the former San Diego Padres who tormented the San Francisco Giants across the bay for so many years. The A’s had him on the ropes in the first inning, when they managed to get two runners on base, but would fail to cash in on the opportunity as they have so many times in the last month.
In the third inning they had Coco Crisp at third base after a one out triple, but failed to cash him in to get on the board and tie the game at one. The Reds would tack on another run on a Brandon Phillips RBI single in the following inning. The top of the 5th would present yet another chance, as Yoenis Cespedes grounded out with the bases loaded and two outs, another chance presented and another chance passing by. They would muster not much else before Derek Norris ran into a 99 MPH Aroldis Chapman fastball in the ninth inning to get the A’s on the board with their first run since Saturday. The run would amount to a garbage time score considering the way the A’s are swinging the bats, a 3-0 lead was practically insurmountable.
For the fourth straight start Dan Straily was not sharp, and the good feelings of his stretch of good starts are long gone. He didn’t get rocked, but he certainly did not have his good stuff. He allowed a second inning solo home run to Jay Bruce, and the aforementioned RBI single to Brandon Phillips. He lasted only 4 innings, allowing 6 hits, 2 ER, 1 walk, and 3 strikeouts in taking his 6th loss of the season and 4th straight in as many starts.
The two teams will have a lightning quick turnaround as they take on the Reds once again tomorrow morning. Bartolo Colon will look to be the stopper for the A’s as he squares off against Homer Bailey.