The Oakland Athletics had the hottest offense in baseball, leading the league by a wide margin in the run differential department.
They outscored the Cleveland Indians 30-6 in their 3 game series. They were on fire, and they were on their way to play the Tampa Bay Rays, a reeling team who was not doing well at all. Their record was 2nd to last in the American League, ahead of only the Houston Astros by two wins. It seemed like the Athletics were going come in and continue their offensive tear.
They didn’t. In fact, they barely got by. The red hot offense was hurt by the off day, and are now ice cold.
They managed to score 3 runs in the first game. In one inning, they scored all three of their runs. Aside from that one inning, the offense was dead. They still won the game 3-0. It seemed disappointing only because the A’s had spoiled us. They got us used to those high scoring games and blowouts.
The second game came around, and the offense was even worse. They managed only 1 hit, a solo shot by Brandon Moss. The Athletics only won the game because of errors made, which accounted for two unearned runs. The Athletics caught a lucky break. The offense didn’t show any signs of life, striking out a lot. They did get a lot of free passes, but the Athletics could not capitalize on those walks.
The Athletics offense that was so dominant was practically shut down. 1 hit over 9 innings is a huge disappointment when we’ve seen them do so much better. In the end, they got the win so fans couldn’t stay disappointed.
In the final game of the 3 game series, the Athletics could not break through against Alex Cobb in the 6.2 innings he pitched. They had the bases loaded in the 6th, but failed to score. They failed to score against the bullpen until the 9th inning.
They tied the game at 1-1 on an RBI double by Yoenis Cespedes. The bases were loaded after Balfour intentionally walked Jed Lowrie, but Josh Reddick failed to bring anybody in with only 1 out. Alberto Callaspo came up to the plate after Reddick. If he could bring Donaldson home, all the Athletics would need is three outs to win the game, instead of going into extra innings. But Callaspo failed and left the bases loaded.
The Athletics had to go into extra innings, where in the 10th inning they went down 1-2-3.
In the 11th inning, Donaldson led off with a double, and he ended up scoring. He didn’t score on hit though, he scored by moving up to 3rd base by a groundout from Brandon Moss. Cespedes hit a deep sac fly for Donaldson to come in and score.
The bigger picture here is that the offense has cooled down, a lot. Which is coming at one of the hardest parts of their schedule.
The Athletics have a tough stretch in which they face the Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, then the Yankees and the Angels again. All of those teams have winning records, and are either in 1st or 2nd place in their own divisions.
That’s 22 games against teams who are serious contenders to make the postseason. The offense needs to heat up fast if they are going to be winning against the likes of pitchers such as Justin Verlander and Masashiro Tanaka.
If the Athletics want to come out of that stretch remaining in 1st place, they are going to need their offense to come into these games and get big hits with runners in scoring position, not come up to the plate and strike out or pop up in the infield.
This offense has cooled down dramatically, probably because of the off day. This team has spoiled us as fans, because we are not used to watching our team go down 1-2-3 so often, but the bright side is that they have a good cushion for 1st place. One they cannot take for granted. It would be better to add on to that cushion rather than thin it out.
Wake up those bats boys, because you’ve got some tough games ahead of you.