For the first time this season, the Oakland Athletics (30-20) have lost four straight. Not since May 6-10, 2013, have the A’s suffered a strip of such hard luck.
The decline was evident with cooled off bats in Tampa Bay where, at that time, the A’s winners of 11 in their last 12, were able to get their last victory on just one hit, a solo homer by Brandon Moss in a 3-2 victory on May 21.
The 3-game sweep by the AL East leading Toronto Blue Jays (29-22) north of the border saw the A’s only score five runs. During the series, three key players, John Jaso, Jed Lowrie, and Coco Crisp were held out nursing injuries gained on the 10-day road trip.
The team that was red hot grabbing national headlines, once at 14 games above .500 in this early season, now is ice cold.
The A’s now limp home to the Coliseum and real grass – not the plastic stuff where they lost all four – for a quick, but testing homestand, with three games against the AL Central leading Detroit Tigers (28-17) and then four verses Los Angeles Angels, winners of 11 of their last 14, closing within 2 games of the A’s in the West. The A’s then go on the road again to New York, Baltimore, and Anaheim.
The Blue Jays, Tigers, Angels and always Yankees are potential playoff teams. If the A’s performance in the past five games and upcoming few days are any indication of what could aspire in the October playoffs, the situation is dreary. Bats are cold, fielding is faltering, and the bullpen hasn’t been able to hold close games most of the year.
Fortunately starting pitching has been able to maintain consistency with a 2.72 ERA through the four losses. But when your offense only produces seven runs in four games and your bullpen gives up runners on base, being on the mound when seven runs are scored (responsible for 6) over just nine innings in relief (6.00 ERA), many games aren’t going to go your way.
Skids happen in every season. The Tigers themselves have lost 5 of their last 6 games and they still have the best record in the league. The World Champion Boston Red Sox have a 10-game losing streak.
For the A’s, time to turn it around, but also time to play smart.