The Oakland A’s aren’t out of the postseason yet, but their gradual decline follows a well-known script. Much like a handful of losses recently, their 10-7 case against the mediocre Kansas City Royals started with a healthy margin on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium and took an ugly turn as the bullpen was unable to hold it.
“We’re still grinding. We talk every day. We know where we are, ”said manager Bob Melvin. “We’ve had some tough games on the way in the last few weeks. Looked like we were out and we’ve gotten something here a couple of times lately. Everyone knows where we are right now. We have to win games and there is no game we can hang out in the next day. We have to get out of there tomorrow like it’s the last game we’ll play. ”
In this case, the A’s took a six-run lead and went into the lower end of the third inning against starter Jackson Kowar. They scored two in the first game in Starling Marte’s RBI double and Jed Lowrie’s sacrificial fly. They scored three goals on back-to-back hits from Elvis Andrus and Josh Harrison after Kowar loaded the bases on three straight walks and took a 6-0 lead by the middle of the third inning.
No lead is safe. No matter which opposing team. Frankie Montas started his launch with a 1.30 ERA from his last four starts, but spun when he couldn’t find his splitter or didn’t command any of his pitches. In the third inning he gave up three runs, then retired in the fourth with just one out after allowing a run with two runners in the scoring position.
Deolis Guerra got Salvador Perez to fly out and knocked out Andrew Benintendi to clean up the mess – then tacked another clean inning. But Yusmeiro Petit gave in his 71st
“Just didn’t make the space he wanted to make,” Melvin said. “He tried to get in, probably off the plate, because everything that throws him away is mostly gone. I just didn’t get in enough. ”
The Royals led to the seventh inning 8-7 and added a double home run against Sergio Romo. The last dagger.
“We are not worried about the position we are in,” said Petit. “We focus every day on winning the day. We don’t talk about other teams, we have to win for ourselves. ”
What initially looked like an unreliable pitching team explosion has turned into routine meltdowns. Since the workload falls on a smaller group of pitchers, especially from the bullpen, the workload is high and the margins of error are low. It shows in the numbers.
With the A’s shuffling through a couple of bullpen arms that didn’t get stuck, Petit, Romo, Andrew Chafin, Jake Diekman and Lou Trivino have taken on most of the appearances in various leveraged positions. The A’s 48 total deployed players are the fifth few deployed in the MLB, and at this point we could tell why the pitching staff are looking tired and the team relatively uninspired compared to the last postseason runs at this point in September is.
Granted, the A’s pitching staff was the anchor of this team for most of the season, keeping victories within reach and a mild offensive. Now the roles have reversed.
“They had a tough time but these guys have grinded all season,” said Montas. “We won a lot of pitching games and these guys are grinders. They know what they are doing and they are having a tough time like everyone else. ”
August 21 and 22: San Francisco Giants rally for late wins, 6-5 and 2-1, against Lou Trivino, Andrew Chafin
August 23: Seattle Mariners clears A’s lead with three runs in the ninth inning, A loses 5-3 late.
September 3: Marcus Semien reaches the walk-off three-run home run, A loses 11-10 in the ninth inning to the Toronto Blue Jays.
This means that the A’s pitching staff has an ERA of 6.81 in September, the second highest after the Baltimore Orioles’ 6.92. They allowed 20 home runs in games of September 12th.
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You also keep sliding in a wildcard race where five teams are unable to keep a tight grip on either place. Four games separate the top team from the last team on the ladder, and no team wants to take more than one step up. No clear leader has emerged, but the A’s run out of breath when they have to accelerate.