Bullpen Blues: Relief effort spoils another strong outing by Rodon in 4-3 Giants loss to the Braves

By Morris Phillips

Nothing typifies the Giants these days like a close game. They play a lot of them–36 of 68 so far this season–and they’re used to being in close games, winning close games.

Just hasn’t quite been their thing yet this season, and definitely not on this road trip. The Giants fell to 17-19 in games decided by two runs or less on Wednesday, allowing a three-run, bottom of the ninth rally by the host Braves in a 4-3 loss.

Jake McGee was given an opportunity to reignite his closer duties, and he belied his recent successes and got hit hard. The 35-year old gave up a leadoff home run to Darby Swanson, two more hits and was relieved by Trevor Rogers who allowed the game-winning base hit to Adam Duvall. Camilio Doval wasn’t available, he pitched in nine of the previous 12 games and was given a night to rest.

“We want to win every game, but at the end of the day, these are going to happen,” said McGee, who hadn’t allowed a run since May 10, a stretch of 10 appearances. “That’s why they’ve been really hot lately and they’ve been swinging the bat well. So you’ve just got to tip your cap sometimes.”

The Giants also tipped their cap on Monday when Camilo Doval failed to get through the ninth in a 2-1 loss. Last season’s 107-win campaign included a 31-17 record in one-run games, and the Giants locked in big moments offensively. This year, the record in two-run games is another reminder that the team’s offense has struggled. The bullpen–in spots–as well. But the subject arises in a series–not yet completed–where a team’s two best starters sprinkle magic dust for seven innings, only to see their work squandered in the game’s final inning.

“I’m not one to say one loss was better or worse than others. It’s just not my style,” said Kapler, who just doesn’t show raw emotion in postgame pressers.

Rodon was on point, capping a three-start stretch in which he allowed one run in 21 innings. He struck out 10, and walked one in his first appearance against the Braves. Matt Olson’s seventh inning, RBI double broke up Rodon’s scoreless stretch.

Darin Ruf and Mike Yastrzemski homered to back Rodon, and Tommy LaStella’s RBI single in the ninth provided insurance, giving the Giants a 3-1 lead.

And the news wasn’t bad off the diamond, as Brandon Crawford found out he suffered no structural damage to his knee, and he’s a candidate to start Thursday’s series finale.

Luis Gonzales would have been a viable, pinch-hit option on Wednesday after being declared out with back tightness, but that wasn’t all that he needed. The Braves followed right-handed starter Charlie Morton with two left-handed relievers, leaving Kapler with better options. Kapler said Gonzales should be okay, his back issues are considered serious.

Alex Wood and Atlanta’s Kyle Wright are the announced starters for the series finale at 12:20pm EST.

Tense, Tight: Giants-Braves opener has playoff feel, Arcia propels Atlanta to a 2-1 win

By Morris Phillips

Supposedly there have been a bunch of lopsided results between the Giants and Braves over the last ten seasons, just not one on Monday night.

The opener of the four-game series at Truist Park was a pitcher’s duel with the Braves sneaking past the Giants with Orlando Arcia’s game-winning RBI single in the ninth. Max Fried and Logan Webb were brilliant, allowing just one run each, but neither was around when Arcia’s hard-hit, ground ball to the left side of the infield saw daylight.

The Giants had a pair of opportunities late to knock in a go-ahead run with a runner at third and just one out, but failed both times. Wilmer Flores struck out with the bases loaded in the eighth, and Thairo Estrada struck out facing Kenley Jansen in the ninth with runners at second and third.

With less than 70 games played this season, the Giants and Braves have already eyeballed each other with both trying to at least take advantage of the new postseason format and finish with the best record among non-division winners and gain homefield advantage in the opening round. Currently, both teams are looking up at the first place teams in their division, the Mets in the NL East and the Dodgers in the West.

Camilo Doval walked Matt Olson to leadoff the ninth on four pitches. The only free pass issued by the Giants all evening would be their undoing Marcell Ozuna singled to move Olson up, ahead of Arcia’s base hit with two outs.

Fried went seven innings, striking out eight and walking two. He was saddled with a no-decision when the Giants pushed a run across in the eighth. Fried has yet to lose to the Giants after five starts and one relief appearance.

Webb also pitched seven innings and allowed a run, while striking out seven and walking none. Travis D’Arnaud’s second inning homer was the only blemish for Webb, who has allowed six home runs this season–all on the road.

Joc Pederson received his World Series ring before the game, he was a late season acquisition by the Braves last year that contributed to their run to the title despite getting limited at-bats in the World Series. Pederson, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford were all absent from the Giants’ starting lineup, but all three got pinch-hitting assignments.

The Giants will activate Anthony DeSclafani for a start in Tuesday’s game, his first action since being injured in April. Spencer Strider will get the start for the Braves, who have won 16 of 18.

This Time, Almost Everything Runs Smoothly: A’s break through with 4-0 win over the Royals

By Morris Phillips

OAKLAND–Jared Koenig, a 28-year old pitcher who’s never been anything special according to scouting reports, was just that on Sunday afternoon.

Koenig, who’s seemingly toiled professionally everywhere except the Major Leagues until now, pitched into the sixth inning, allowing two hits and no runs to pick up his initial big league win in front of friends and his father, Greg, up from Aptos, CA.

“He didn’t strike anyone out but he got through 5 2/3 with a lot of contact and a good defense behind him,” manager Mark Kotsay said of Koenig. “For him, his journey through independent ball, through Australia, through the minor leagues, it’s a great reward for him.”

“It’s a great feeling to know that I’m able to be successful out here,” Koenig said with a big smile on his face. “Today was awesome.”

Good news couldn’t come any sooner for Koenig, who lost his first two Oakland starts, and the A’s, who had lost 25 of 32, and the first two games of their series with the Royals. But on Sunday, with 14,341 in attendance at the Coliseum, the defense was staunch, the pitching stingy and Seth Brown and Sean Murphy supplied big home runs to end an eight-game slide at home.

The Royals ended a week in the Bay Area with little noise. They managed rallies in the third off Koenig, and the sixth but both were quelled with Domingo Acevedo coming on to retire Michael Taylor Jr. to end the sixth. Kansas City had won three straight, but starter Brady Singer allowed the home run to Seth Brown and he set the table in the sixth, prior to Murphy’s home run off Jose Cuas that put the A’s up four runs.

“Cuas has been really good,” manager Mike Matheny said. “He did a great job of getting that first out. Made a really good pitch to get that pop-up, then unfortunately got too much of the middle of the plate against Murphy and it cost us three runs.”

The A’s have won just 3 of their last 18, but they avoided getting swept by the Royals, who have the second worst record in the American League but looked “noticeably worse” in comparison according to local journalist Ben Ross, who covered Friday’s game.

The A’s afternoon had its moment when Tony Kemp, running hard from first base looked to take advantage of a base hit that was booted by centerfielder Taylor enough to keep Kemp churning to home plate. But after a beautiful slide eluded Salvador Perez, replay showed that Kemp’s back pocket, turned inside out and flapping was tagged by Perez, something only replay could catch. Kemp, on review, was called out.

“The most 2022 Oakland A’s play ever…” Kemp termed it.

The A’s are off on Monday and open a three-game set with the Mariners on Tuesday. James Kaprelian will face Marco Gonzales of Seattle in the opener.

Giant Strides: SF looks to gain ground in the NL West race with favorable pre-All Star break sked

By Morris Phillips

A week ago the Giants were frustrating themselves and their fans. A week later, things are much brighter. Winning games in bunches, and beating the preferred opponent makes a difference.

Prior to facing the Dodgers and Royals, the Giants had lost 21 of 38, a step back for a club that got off to a roaring start to their 2022 season (13-5 through the first 18 games). Injuries to starters Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood and position players Evan Longoria, Brandon Belt and Lamonte Wade Jr. were a major part of a team didn’t measure up to other playoff worthy teams, and/or saw its offense disappear one too many times/or saw the bullpen blow a couple of leads.

Plus, when your coming off a 107-win season and the retirement of Buster Posey, the biggest name in local baseball over the last 15 years, the microscope gets a longer look. But overall, the Giants have held up without looking good throughout. Now with the team’s health improving and the schedule easing considerably, the Giants can–hopefully–look more like themselves.

The biggest thing that needs to change? And road baseball could enhance the chances of it happening? The Giants need more base hits, doubles and triples, anything that improves a .239 team batting average that’s a culprit when the team has scoring droughts.

The pitching’s been good not great with an ERA of 3.92, just ahead of the league average. But the numbers have swelled in recent weeks, suggesting a tweak or additional arm could lower that number. Even more encouraging, the Giants continue to be rough on opposing home run hitters, by allowing a MLB-least 48 homers thus far.

Power hitting could set the Giants apart as the season progresses, with health being the biggest factor. Of the guys who’ve missed time, Brandon Belt has returned to the lineup and hit his fifth home run of the season on Wednesday. Evan Longoria’s return has reached 28 games, but he hasn’t hit a home run outside of a five-homer-in-six-games stretch in late May. Longoria’s gotten fewer at-bats within games as well in June, that could continue when Lamonte Wade Jr. returns.

Darin Ruf, Brandon Crawford, Austin Slater, Belt and Longoria are all hitting below the .239 mark, and are the biggest candidates to pick up their offense. Wade enters this mix as well when he returns in the coming weeks. So far, Wade’s appeared in only ten games.

Twelve of the 28 games remaining before the All-Star break are against the Braves, Brewers and Padres and critical to playoff momentum and seeding. Starting this postseason, the top wild card holds home-field advantage in a short, opening round series. The other 16 games are against teams the Giants internally will be happy to see with the first six of 19 games against Arizona topping the list. The Giants also see the currently under .500 quartet: Reds, Pirates, Tigers and White Sox.

The schedule’s balanced: 15 of the 28 games remaining are at home, 13 on the road, but the Giants have winning records home and away.

The Giants have announced Carlos Rodon as their Friday night starter against the Pirates, who will be pressed to field a formidable lineup against him. The Pirates ranked 6th worst in strikeouts (562 through 62 games) and have a paltry .220 team batting average. Rodon just went more than a month without a victory before he shut down the Dodgers for six innings in his last start.

Bumgarner-like Relief: Kansas City bullpen shuts down the Giants in 3-2 win to avoid a sweep

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–In 2014, Madison Bumgarner threw five innings of scoreless relief to propel the Giants to a victory in Kansas City in Game 7 of the World Series. You may have heard about it.

On Wednesday, the Royals provided their answer–on a much, smaller stage–with five innings of scoreless relief from four relievers to lead Kansas City past the Giants, 3-2. The win snapped the Giants five-game win streak, and sends the host club on the road to Pittsburgh in hopes of continuing their improved play.

“One of the things we know leads to big things for us (is) a couple of walks, a double, a base hit, and all of a sudden we’ve scored three runs in an inning,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “I think that’s been one of our calling cards over the course of the last few years. It’s not always going to be in the cards.”

With the Giants attempting to go 10 games over .500 for the first time in 2022–and the struggling Royals trying to avoid a 13th loss in their last 17 games–things appeared to be going to form as early as the fourth inning when Brandon Belt homered, and Curt Casali added a run-scoring sacrifice fly to tie the game at two. That brought the game to a stage where four relievers for the Royals, and five for the Giants would attempt to avoid a decisive mistake in a game that saw just one more run scored.

Royals manager Mike Matheny liked his chances after the fifth when Amir Garrett successfully relieved starter Jonathan Heasley, who was taxed, throwing 92 pitches in just the first four innings.

“Amir coming in and kind of forcing their hand in those situations, what are they going to do,” Matheny said. “The (Giants have) shown early that they’re going to go to their bench. We need him to come in and throw strikes, pound the zone, get his lefties out. He ended up getting us through that inning.”

Taylor Clarke followed, getting four outs and avoiding trouble by stranding a pair of Giants. Then Jose Cuas came on in the seventh and got three outs that would eventually translate to his first major league win after toiling in the minor leagues for six seasons. Neither Clarke or Cuas were likely to shut down a hot club given their track records, but they got it done. For Cuas, the experience was unforgettable.

“It’s more than I’ve ever dreamed of,” Cuas said. “I can’t really tell you I’ve dreamed of this moment because I didn’t get this far in my dream. It’s amazing. I’m soaking every second of it I can and every day for me is just a dream come true.”

The reward for Cuas: a dousing of ketchup, shaving cream and other substances in the visiting clubhouse by teammates enthused by the rookie’s first mark in the big leagues. Cuas didn’t mention that aspect in recounting his dream.

Cuas’ outing turned victorious in the eighth when the Royals broke through against John Brebbia with a run-scoring, sacrifice fly from Whit Merrifield. The go-ahead run was set up by Andrew Benintendi’s pinch-hit double to start the inning.

For the Giants, the good news was limited to Belt’s return after missing 30 games with injury and a bout with COVID. The bad news started with Brandon Crawford’s first inning fielding error that opened the door for two Royals’ runs to start the game. Crawford was playing in his 1,500 game with the Giants.

“We depend on Craw for his ability on defense and expect it every time out,” Kapler said of the botched play. “I think that ball just kind of jumped up on him a little bit. It’s part of the game. it happens.”

After a 6-3 home stand the Giants travel to Pittsburgh where they will see Pirates’ starter Zach Thompson on Friday night. The Giants have not announced a starter for that game as of yet.

Giants Stay Hot, Roast the Royals 6-2 at Oracle Park

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–Buoyed by all their success gathered in a sweep of the Dodgers, the Giants kept their momentum going Monday night by breaking open a close game, and beating the Royals 6-2.

Alex Wood stood out, pitching six innings and allowing just four hits. He threw an economical 80 pitches and retired the last ten batters he faced, which was enough for manager Gabe Kapler, who turned to his bullpen to protect a 3-2 lead. Wood pitched with base traffic in the first three innings, but managed to keep the visitors from cashing in outside of a two-run third.

Brady Singer started for Kansas City, and Amir Garrett relieved him in the fifth, and neither seemed comfortable with Singer issuing five walks, and Garrett one to Austin Slater, who advanced to second on a wild pitch, and scored on Thairo Estrada’s base hit that gave the Giants a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Singer issued four consecutive walks in the third, allowing the Giants to tie the game with free passes issued to Darin Ruf and Joc Pederson coming with the bases loaded, forcing in a pair of runs.

In all Giants’ batters drew nine walks, likely infuriating former catcher and Royals manager Mike Matheny. The walks in combination with the Giants five hits–four of them doubles–put the Giants in position to add on with two runs in the seventh and one in the eighth.

Relievers Mauricio Llovera, Jake McGee and Camilo Doval each pitched a scoreless inning after Wood departed with Doval picking up the save. Llovera was a gameday callup from AAA Sacramento as Heliot Ramos was sent out after another short stint with the big club.

The Giants have won four in a row, impressive in that it brings them within three games of the Dodgers and the division lead, and somehow has kept them in front of the Atlanta Braves in the wild card stack, despite the Braves winning a 12th straight on Monday. The Giants hold the lead wild card spot, significant this season in the expanded playoff field which will see that lead team host an opening round series in the postseason.

On Tuesday, the Giants and Royals play game two of a three-game set with Logan Webb, coming off arguably his most impressive start of the season facing Kris Bubic, who has an unsightly 0-3 record with a 9.13 ERA.

Early Start Equates To Early Offense: A’s fall behind and lose to the Guardians 6-3

By Morris Phillips

Right now, a matchup between baseball’s most productive hitter and the game’s least effective offense is a mismatch. That’s more bad news for the struggling A’s.

The A’s got their final look at the Cleveland Guardians and it didn’t do much to change the current state of affairs. The Guardians–winners on Sunday by a 6-3 score–are heating up, and the A’s continue to struggle, losing for the 32nd time in their last 43 games, despite ending a lengthy losing streak on Saturday. The Guardians have won 11 of 15 to plant themselves firmly in the race for the AL Central crown.

Jose Ramirez knocked in three runs for Cleveland, the first two to give the hosts a first inning lead after the A’s got a home run from Ramon Laureano. The Guardians went on to score three in the first, two in the sixth and one in the seventh to build a 6-1 lead. Ramirez leads all big league hitters with 59 RBI.

The A’s staged a late rally in the eighth with back-to-back home runs from Christian Bethancourt and Seth Brown. Sean Murphy then drew a walk, but Cleveland reliever Trevor Stephan settled down and got Elvis Andrus to fly out to end the inning.

The A’s hit the road this week after a 1-9 home stand hoping to reverse their fortunes. But through the first two stops on the roadie, they’re 1-5. The A’s have the lowest team batting average at .211 and despite hitting three home runs for only the third time this season on Sunday, they’ve hit the second fewest in baseball at 44.

“I think guys are getting more confident, taking better at-bats,” manager Mark Kotsay said. “We’ve known the power is in there for the guys that hit the home runs.”

As the A’s issues have persisted, those issues have multiplied. The team’s pitching has deteriorated with the team ERA above 5 1/2 runs over the last 28 games. Cole Irvin, Sunday’s starter allowed at least six hits in a start for the sixth, consecutive start despite settling down considerably after a rocky first inning.

However, the defense contributed to Sunday’s poor start as Andrus misplaced a ground ball hit by leadoff hitter Myles Straw. That was the A’s 41st error on the season.

Winning pitcher Cal Quantrill went six innings, allowing four hits and a run, his fifth win of the season. Emmanuel Clase pitched the ninth and struck out Matt Davidson and Tony Kemp with Chad Pinder on second base to end the game and earn his 11th save.

The A’s travel to Boston and face the Red Sox starting Tuesday with Jared Koenig the team’s scheduled starting pitcher.

Rockies Rise Up: After a string of poor results in SF, Colorado gets the best of the Giants with series-clinching 4-2 win

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–The best case scenario for the up-and-down Giants was to use the Rockies’ visit as a confidence-building spring board into their big series with the division-leading Dodgers over the weekend.

That wasn’t how the last three days played out.

The Giants squandered a win-worthy pitching performance from Logan Webb, going the final seven innings scoreless in a 4-2 loss to Colorado on Thursday afternoon. Four errors, two in the same inning by second baseman Thairo Estrada, didn’t help Webb or the Giants.

“I don’t think we played our best defense,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “It’s a really tough league when you’re not converting ground balls into outs. I think we’ve seen consistently a better brand of defense than we’ve played today.”

The Giants appeared to be doing their thing, scoring early with two runs in the second, and then turning to Webb to shut down an opponent that’s experienced very little success at Oracle Park over the last three seasons. Then a sloppy fourth inning turned that strategy to mush, as the Rockies struck for three runs, the product of three singles and three Giants’ errors. In that mix, Estrada first dropped a fly ball, then booted a ground ball when baserunner C.J. Cron apparently distracted him as he ran to second base.

All the upheaval definitely threw Webb off his game. The Giants’ pop-up ace was in sights of a 18th, consecutive start punctuated by a win at home, and he was pitching accordingly. Instead he was lifted in the sixth, trailing, after allowing six singles and a double to Charlie Blackmon. Webb struck out three, walked one and pitched efficiently, starting 20 of the 26 batters he faced with a strike.

Webb also got a great deal of support from Austin Wynns, the Giants’ newly acquired catcher in a trade with Philadelphia, who picked up a pair of hits, a run batted in, and almost immediately appeared locked into the program behind the plate.

He was awesome,” Webb said of Wynns. “He came up to me before the game … and he was like, ‘I watched your last four outings. You do this and this and this. I’m like, you know more about what I do than I’m actually thinking about doing.”

But none of the good stuff added up, not with the Giants’ offense absent after the second inning. In Monday’s loss to the Rockies, they did the same thing, scoring three runs in the first, and going the remaining eight innings scoreless. Austin Gomber, with six losses coming in and an ERA hoovering around six, made it work, throwing six innings to get the win. Manager Bud Black had kind words for Gomber and all his guys, who he noted didn’t give in to the prevailing story line of doom at Oracle Park, where they had lost 14 of 19.

“We strung some hits together,” Black said. “That was big as well. We stayed on the attack against a very tough pitcher. They helped us a little bit in the fourth defensively. But our guys kept battling.”

The Giants’ offense will get a boost from Brandon Belt and Lamonte Wade Jr., but neither slugger will be available for the Dodgers this weekend. The Giants are also down a starter with Alex Cobb on the shelf, meaning they’ll undoubtedly go the bullpen route in at least one of the last two games with the Dodgers giving the ball to Walker Buehler Friday and Julio Urias on Saturday.

Looking for the thrilling sequel to the 2021 NLDS series between the two clubs. Well, if so, the Giants are going to need to pick up their game under trying circumstances.

Jakob Junis gets his first appearance against the Dodgers in the Friday opener opposite Buehler at 7:15pm.

Personality-lacking Giants win games somewhat anonymously… As a fan, what more should you ask for?

By Morris Phillips

What distinguishes the 2022 Giants from the rest of the pack? Well, that’s a tough one.

Numerically, this version of SFG isn’t the record-breaking group of 2021 in terms of home runs hit or games won, but they’re pretty good. In baseball’s newly expanded postseason, the Giants are in–as of now–and that’s after more than a month of tough results and far too little encouraging news on the injury front. But that doesn’t make the team or its players–now without the iconic Buster Posey who hung up his cleats after 2021–particularly noticeable.

Looking for a Giant in baseball-reference.com‘s myriad of individual, statistical categories like WAR (wins above replacement), home runs or games started for pitchers, keep looking. Broken up into categories of pitching, hitting and fielding only one Giants’ name comes up… Thairo Estrada. Estrada is one of a group of seven base stealers that hasn’t been apprehended with eight steals in eight attempts. In fact, Estrada is perfect for his four-year, big league career with a modest 14 steals without being caught.

In the newly, expanding world of fielding statistics, perfect for a game dominated by defensive shifts and measured by defensive range, Estrada leads MLB as the most efficient second baseman having successfully handled 99.4 percent of his ball handling chances. But let Estrada botch one opportunity and he’ll likely fall back into a large group of defensively-proficient second basemen. That’s all it takes to return to anonymity.

Last season, the Giants set themselves apart by hitting home runs; their 241 in 162 games led the National League. Individually, “Late Night” Lamonte Wade Jr. led major league baseball in slugging percentage from the seventh inning on, a stat that more than anything earned him a bunch of dramatic highlights on ESPN’s SportsCenter. This season, there’s nothing rivaling either of those stats.

First of all, Wade may be the team’s biggest missing piece. Due to a pair of injuries, Wade’s appeared in just 10 games, has six hits and just one home run. With those paltry numbers, no one’s scouring the database to see which of those six hits came before or after the seventh inning. The home run story’s not so bleak: the Giants are still among the best teams in MLB in hitting them (66 in 53 games) and slugging percentage (.410). If anything, the pitching staff deserves credit for being stingy, and allowing just 44 round trippers, which is tied with the Braves for the fewest in the National League.

What’s apparent is anonymity is synonymous with success. The Kapler/Zaidi formula for platooning, and limiting pitcher’s pitch menu works. The Giants put their players in positions to succeed more often that not, by playing the percentages, and having them do what they do best. Nothing better illustrates that then right-handed hitting Donovan Walton’s grand slam off left-handed throwing Brad Garrett as the deciding blow in yesterday’s 5-1 Giants’ win in Miami. A tiring Garrett–pushed in that direction by patient Giants’ hitters elevating his pitch count–throwing his 13th pitch of the fourth inning, offered a less-than blazing 82 mph slider and Walton pounced. The situation needed to be just right, and it was. Walton, hitting ninth and playing shortstop, had never hit a grand slam in his career, pro or amateur.

Want personality? Manager Gabe Kapler fills the bill. Baseball’s new-aged thinker was raised to question authority, and it shows again and again from his disdain for baseball’s unwritten rules to his outspoken views on the state of the country, gun control and racial inclusion. Winning games, and pushing the right buttons, and being forthright when he doesn’t sets Kapler apart as well. Sure, baseball fans want their teams to distinguish themselves on the field, not in the dugout, but through two plus seasons, Kapler’s making a difference.

So what should fans hope for to spice it up? That’s simple: the trade deadline. If the Giants stay in contention, they’ll make some spicy moves in August to keep things moving. They did it last season by dealing for Kris Bryant, and they kept the door open for future moves, by not retaining Bryant. At some point–you can almost count on it–Farhan Zaidi and the front office will make a big move on the trade front and get the Giants a star, someone who fits financially and schematically.

The Giants open a nine-game home stand on Tuesday against the Rockies with Carlos Rodon facing Colorado’s struggling German Marquez at 6:45pm.

A House Is Not a Home When There’s No One There.. A’s conclude dismal home stand with 5-2 loss to the Red Sox

By Morris Phillips

OAKLAND–In 1964, the Burt Bacharach/Dionne Warwick hit machine gave us a “House Is Not A Home.” Now 58 years later, the 2022 A’s seemed to be smothered by the song’s theme with little possibility for an escape.

On Sunday, with A’s fans outnumbered by Red Sox fans 3 to 1 according to the highly scientific measurements on Twitter, Oakland’s hometown team fell quietly to Boston, 5-2 to conclude a 1-9 “home” stand.

The woeful A’s are now 7-23 at the Coliseum, and in reach of a worst-ever record in 45-plus seasons at the Coliseum, with the forgettable 1979 season (31-50 at the Coliseum) the only competition. Offense continues to be the missing element as the A’s scored just four runs in the series with Boston. For the season, they’ve managed just 80 runs at home, which is less than 2.5 on average.

Quite simply, that just won’t do. The A’s are representative 13-13 on the road. So how much do the home performances, have to do with the empty seats, the lack of support, and love?

“We have played well on the road, but this home stand was tough in every way,” manager Mark Kotsay said. “A lot of guys in there are grinding. It’s definitely not for a lack of effort. It’s almost that we’re trying too hard right now. We know the importance of playing well at home. Hopefully when we get back here off this road trip we can change things.”

One of the grinders is Frankie Montas. In his 13th start of the season–and nine removed from his last win–he battled. After a rough first inning in which he allowed three hits and a run to the first three batters, he retired 14 of 15 Red Sox and had the A’s squarely in a competitive game, down 2-1 after five. But no offense came to his rescue, and then the dam broke.

Montas walked leadoff man Rafael Devers, then Kevin Smith botched a throw on a potential double play ball, and two batters later, Franchy Cordero left the yard, leaving Montas in a hole, despite allowing just one earned run. Furthering frustration Cordero’s blast came immediately after a conversation between manager and pitcher that was aimed at holding the fort.

“He just asked me if I wanted it and I said yes,” Montas said. “I just made a mistake. They’re really good hitters and when you make a mistake . . ”

The A’s managed to have seven guys in the lineup produce a hit, but none had more than one, and three extra-base hits had little impact outside Ramon Laureano’s RBI double in the first. By the time Tony Kemp knocked in Christian Bethancourt in the ninth, it was literally time for the fans to depart and the A’s to head to the airport. Too little, too late.

Boston’s rough season got a little less rough with them creeping back to .500 with the three-game sweep. But the reality is they’re fallible and no big league team should get swept by them at home. Or have manager Alex Cora get to say something veiled that basically says the same thing.

“We’ve been playing good baseball the last three weeks, just grinding and using everybody,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “We’ve still got holes, but on a daily basis we feel very good about ourselves.”

The good news? Nineteen of the A’s next 25 are on the road, and the reminders left by empty seats and distraught fans won’t follow them onto the various, road diamonds. Hopefully, that’s the tonic they need.

On Tuesday in Atlanta, the A’s open a two-game set against the World Champions with Cole Irvin slated to go against Kyle Wright in the opener. After that, the A’s travel to Cleveland and Boston.