By Morris Phillips
Bad? No, actually worse.
The A’s concluded a disastrous 1-8 roadtrip with a 13-inning 5-3 loss in Pittsburgh in which victory was transformed into defeat with one, powerful stroke. Sterling Marte’s three-run homer off Fernando Rodney finished a four-run rally, and erased Oakland’s comfy two-run lead at the inception of the frame.
For the A’s, it was the second, consecutive day the bullpen imploded. The team’s offense seemingly whimpered in all of nine of the trip’s losses. And at 15-21, the club is in worse shape in relation to the .500 mark than they were at any point in 2018.
“Been through some tough ones here recently. This one’s probably at the top,” said manager Bob Melvin.
Are the last-place A’s cooked? Absolutely not, but they’ll need to start playing better baseball immediately starting Tuesday night when the Reds come to the Coliseum if they want to have consecutive playoff berths on their resumes. What’s frustrating is they were playing better baseball–winning Friday, blowing a late lead Saturday, and shutting down the Pirates for 12 innings on Sunday–before adversity struck like a baby grand piano falling on a unsuspecting, Saturday morning cartoon character.
So what’s the club’s biggest issue, the reason they haven’t regained their form from 2018?
That’s easy enough. The answer is, if hasn’t been one thing, it’s been another. In Sunday’s draining, extra-inning meltdown, the lack of hitting was the culprit… at least until the incendiary nature of the pitching took over.
Frankie Montas started and was the six inning wonder he’s been all season, lowering his ERA to 2.75 in the process. Montas allowed five hits and a run, with the Pirates only damage Colin Moran’s run scoring, sacrifice fly in the second.
Four Oakland relievers followed, starting with a dominating two innings from Lou Trivino, and Melvin had his club in an advantageous spot for a breakthrough through 12 innings.
But none came. Khris Davis started in left field, but was done after one at-bat when he injured his hip making a catch against the stands in foul ground. Davis has gone three weeks with a home run, and after departing early, that streak will continue for at least two more days. When asked after the game, the slugger felt confident he wouldn’t miss any time going forward.
But with Pirates’ starter Jordan Lyles and the first four relievers that followed dealing, Davis was missed yesterday.
Ironically, regular left fielder Robbie Grossman got the A’s on the scoreboard with a run scoring single in the seventh.