By Morris Phillips
OAKLAND–For Mark Canha, who had the historical angle in his memory, it was a head scratcher.
“They did the same thing to us this year that we did to them last year,” Canha said. “It’s kind of insane to think about how that happened.”
Last year in the COVID-shortened season, Stephen Piscotty came up the ninth inning, grand slam to tie it, and Canha the three-run homer in the ninth the next night. Those surprises happened in the Giants’ ballpark, resulted in one run wins for the A’s, and they went to the playoffs and the Giants did not.
Fast forward to Saturday and Sunday, and the Giants come up with Lamonte Wade Jr.’s two-run shot in the ninth to win it Saturday, and a two-run shot from Donovan Solano to win Sunday, 2-1.
You can’t make this stuff up, and after a disastrous week at Chicago, and at home for Bay Bridge Series, the A’s have to wonder if their playoff hopes are in peril.
Maybe the biggest surprise Sunday was the A’s manager Bob Melvin followed Frankie Montas’ seven, scoreless innings with a relief appearance from inexperienced A.J. Puk. But his regular guys, Yusmeiro Petit and Andrew Chafin needed a day after some heavy lifting over the previous games. That put Puk in a big situation, and he appeared up to it, after he retired Wilmer Flores and Darin Ruf, the first two batters he faced.
But Puk then walked Austin Slater, and Solano took him out over the left field wall on the next pitch.
“He gets two out and nobody on,” Melvin said. “But two-out walks, a lot of times, end up hurting you.”
Offensively, the A’s struggled with five singles, and three doubles, but no key hits. The A’s finished 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position, and Starling Marte’s sixth inning base hit made contact with Canha running off second base, and produced an out–not a two-run lead.
After a 2-5 week, the A’s are 70-55, tied with the Red Sox for the second wild card spot, and looking at the Mariners, who have climbed within three games of Boston and Oakland for the second spot. The A’s see the Mariners at the Coliseum on Monday for the first of two games.
The A’s did have some bright spots. Montas was spectacular for seven innings, and showed that he may be ready to give the club what they’ll be missing with Chris Bassitt on the injured list. Also, Starling Marte had three more hits, and stayed as hot as possible, as he clearly is the most productive trade deadline acquisition anywhere in MLB.
Paul Blackburn will be called up to start Monday’s game in place of Bassitt in a matchup with Seattle’s Marco Gonzales.