Late To The Party: A’s stymied through six innings, lose 6-3 to the Astros

By Morris Phillips

On Sunday, the A’s didn’t throw up, they threw their hands up.

The visitors’ weekend visit to Houston highlighted how competitive they’ve been with the division leaders in splitting the first 12 meetings. That thin veneer of big league equality got wiped out at Minute Maid Park as the Astros completed a three-game sweep on Sunday, winning 6-3.

Cristian Javier had gone since July 1 without a win, recording an 0-5 record over six starts. His issue–including a loss to the A’s in Oakland on July 27–was allowing walks (12) and home runs (8) in numbers too inflated to give himself a chance to win. That wasn’t the case on Sunday however. Javier allowed one hit, no runs and three walks that alone didn’t harm him.

Consequently, the A’s had to wait their turn… the one that materialized after manager Dusty Baker lifted his starter after six innings.

“Once he came out of the game, we had some good at-bats and put some hits together and gave (ourselves) a chance,” manager Mark Kotsay said of the A’s offense.

The A’s are challenged offensively, everyone with a bean counter knows that. But they’re also battlers and gamers, a testament to the atmosphere Kotsay has instilled in his clubhouse. So given an opportunity to rally, they did, it just came too little, too late to interrupt their eighth, consecutive loss.

Nick Allen homered in the eighth, and Noah Bride contributed an RBI groundout in the ninth in front of Tony Kemp’s run-scoring single that cut a 6-0 deficit to 6-3. Reliever Rafael Montero’s task was to finish the game, and give closer Ryan Pressly a day off, but that plan failed when he walked Cal Stevenson, forcing Baker to summon Pressly.

With two on and one out, and the A’s trailing 6-2, Pressly allowed Kemp’s RBI single but retired Vimael Machin to end the game, picking up his 22nd save.

Cole Irvin’s been fantastic as the top starter for a team on pace to lose 100 games that doesn’t hit much, but he’s shown wear in his last three starts, culminating on Sunday. Irvin’s lost all three, and allowed a home run in each. Besides Bregman’s blast, Jose Altuve’s two-run double stung the most, leaving Irvin in a 4-0 hole after two innings.

“Sometimes you tip your cap, a combination of just some good hitting and maybe some bad luck with placement of the balls,” Kotsay said of Irvin’s outing.

On Saturday, Skye Bolt went viral with his upset stomach and the resulting projectile celebration. Amazingly, he stayed in the game. On Sunday, a Ramon Laureano swing caused an ache, and the outfielder did depart in the fourth inning with soreness in his ribcage area. Both are day-to-day and any negative change would require a roster move to address a shortage of outfielders.

The A’s travel to North Texas and will meet the struggling Rangers on Monday. James Kaprelian will start opposed by the Rangers’ Glenn Otto. Texas has lost 14 of 22 since the All-Star break.

Rengifo’s first inning homer stands up for Halos; A’s Irvin pitches gem in 1-0 loss Monday

Oakland A’s starter Cole Irvin was dealing against the Los Angeles Angels at the Oakland Coliseum on Mon Aug 8, 2022 to open a three game series (@Athletics photo)

Los Angeles ((47-63). 1. 5. 0

Oakland (41-69). 0. 2. 0

Monday, August 8, 2022

By Lewis Rubman

OAKLAND–After having been swept by the slumping Giants in a two game series over the weekend, the Athletics continued their slide, losing to their fellows in misery from southern California, the Los Angeles Angels, another once proud franchise that recently has been shopping around for a new home. It was, however, a beautiful game.

Oakland chose as their starter Cole Irvin, who at 6-8 ,3.04 at game time, arguably is the best pitcher in their rotation. Frankie Montás, erstwhile candidate for that honor, got hammered in his first appearance as a Yankee, yielding six runs in three innings to the Cardinals. Paul Blackburn, another contender for the title, Paul Blackburn, seems to have been hit by the Curse of the All Star Selection.

In spite of a brief hitch in the opening frame, Irvin was magnificent for eight innings tonight. He allowed but one run on five hits, striking out six without issuing a walk. He threw 94 pitches, 69 for strikes. The loss left him 6-9 ,2.92.

On the mound for the Halos in tonight’s battle of the lefties was José Suárez, carrying a record of 3-4, 4.55 and the nickname of El demente with him.

That sobriquet means just what it sounds like. The madman was crazy like a fox, dominating the host team’s batters over seven frames. His record now is 4-4, 4.04. Keep on reading to appreciate the statistical details of his achievement.

Shohei Ohtani wasn’t in the Angels’ starting lineup, but it did include two on time Athletics catchers, Kurt Suzuki and Max Stassi. The latter just barely qualifies because he never played a regular season game for the Athletics, but he was a standout at Stockton.

Earlier in the day, the A’s announced that they had optioned yesterday’s losing pitcher, Adrián Martínez, to Las Vegas and recalled fellow right handed pitcher Domingo Tapia from the Aviators.

Irvin started out strong, retiring the first two Angels he faced on seven pitches. He threw a 93 mph sinker for his eighth offering. Luis Rengifo gave it a lift.. The ball travelled 434 feet into the left field seats for the Halos’ second sacker’s sixth home run of the year and a 1-0 Los Angeles lead.

Both pitchers were on the ball after that. The score still was 1-0 at the seventh inning stretch, and Irvin had thrown an economical 82 pitches and allowed a total of five hits including Rengifo’s two safties, his round tripper and a double to lead off the fourth.

Not to be outdone, Suárez held Oakland to a pair of singles, one of them of the infield variety, over his first seven frames.

The tension rose among the 5,440 faithful who showed up for the contest as the teams moved inexorably towards the ninth episode of the evening´s drama. Irvin set the Angels down in order in the top of the eighth. Aaron Loup relieved Súarez and set the Athletics down in order.

Zach Jackson came on to try to hold the A’s deficit to one run in the top of the ninth. He succeded, throwing a perfect inning.

Ryan Tepera toed the rubber in the top of the ninth, looking for his second save in six opportunities. The A’s sent Tony Kemp to pinch hit for Pinder to lead off. He flew out to deep left center, bringing up Murphy, who grounded to shortstop Fletcher’s right.

Fletcher made a fine backhand grab and threw Oakland’s catcher out at first. It now was up to Laureano, who flew out to left to end an exciting, albeit frustrating battle.

Shohei Ohtani will be in action tomorrow as the Angels’ starting pitcher. He comes with a record of 9-7, 2.83. James Kaprielian (3-5, 4.32) will oppose him for the green and gold. Game time is 6:40 pm PDT.

Quiet Baseball: A’s offense missing in 6-1 loss to the Astros

By Morris Phillips

OAKLAND–Two things are cropping up with the A’s these days: the losses and the length in time of the losses.

Add it up, not good, and neither was the 6-1 loss to the Astros in which they barely registered offensively. Only three A’s came to bat with a runner in scoring position, and they drew just one walk, and left four men on base.

Vimael Machin’s first Major League home run in the eighth was the highlight, and the whole thing was a rap in two hours, 39 minutes as the A’s saw a steady diet of strikes from three Houston pitchers and did little with them. The A’s have dropped nine of 13, and they haven’t exactly extended themselves in a majority of the losses.

But that’s A’s baseball these days, including the steady performance of their starters. Cole Irvin pitched six innings, allowing five hits and no walks, which looked good and was good, it just came without assistance, outside catcher Stephen Vogt.

“Little bit more curveball usage than I’ve had all season,” Irvin said of his afternoon. “Made my fastball look a little bit harder. Didn’t have good command of it early but it got better. I really wasn’t thinking too much out there. Vogter was calling a great game.”

In the absence of Yordan Alvarez, the impressive home run hitting first baseman for the Astros, who was both named to the All-Star team and placed on the injured list on Sunday, Kory Lee did his thing with three hits and three RBI. Lee, a 2019 first round pick from Cal, was feeling it, not so much from friends in attendance, but the Coliseum’s reputation for zaniness. Not a linear connection, but it worked as Lee put the Astros up 2-0 in the fifth, and doubled home two runs in the seventh for a 4-0 lead.

It’s crazy, being in Oakland,” Lee said. “The people here, the fans are really special so it was nice to get a little taste of home and do my thing here. It was a good day.”

It was a good day for Dusty Baker, who saw his club increase its AL West lead to 12 games and get five All-Star roster spots. And he didn’t get kicked out. In fact, Baker did little besides adjust his wristbands in the dugout, as opposed to getting ejected arguing calls as he did on Saturday.

“We got some timely hitting from some guys who played pretty good fundamental ball. Got ‘em over and got ’em in,” Baker said. “Korey Lee had a big day in front of all his folks. He put on a good display.”

GAME NOTES: The A’s have scored one run or no runs in 32 games thus far with little success (1-31). They entered Sunday’s game with a .209 batting average as a team and went 5 for 31 in the loss. The lowest team batting average over a full season since 1900 is .211 by the Chicago White Sox in 1910.

The A’s recalled Domingo Tapia from AAA Las Vegas and optioned Zach Logue, who started Saturday’s game.

The A’s open a three-game set in Arlington, Texas on Monday. Adrian Martinez and the Rangers’ Spencer Howard are the announced starters for Monday at 5:05pm.

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.

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary podcast: White Sox surprised Yanks Donaldson got just a one day suspension; Cardinals Molina out for bereavement after pitching Sunday

New York Yankees Josh Donaldson (left) and manager Aaron Boone (right) talk during the first inning against the Chicago White Sox at Guarantee Rate Field in Chicago on Sun May 22, 2022 (AP News)

On That’s Amaury News and Commentary podcast:

#1 MLB suspended New York Yankees Josh Donaldson one game for making a Jackie Robinson reference to Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson on Saturday. Donaldson after the game in New York made the Jackie Robinson reference and said he meant no disrespect but White Sox pitching coach Ethan Katz was surprised that he only got one day.

#2 The Jackie Robinson reference was an undertone a dog whistle to Anderson who is black and Donaldson is white player. Donaldson said that he was joking around in the past with Anderson about the Robinson reference when Anderson said he feels like today’s Jackie Robinson.

#3 Amaury, Sunday the St Louis Cardinals pitcher Yadier Molina who pitched in relief giving up two home runs and four runs after the Cardinals swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in four games at PNC Park. The Cardinals have placed Molina on the bereavement list the reason for the bereavement was not disclosed.

#4 The San Francisco Giants are coming off losing a three game sweep against the San Diego Padres at Oracle Park. The Giants also lost first baseman Brandon Belt to the 10 day IL for an inflamed right knee. Giants manager Gabe Kapler said the team is still in good shape.

#5 The Oakland A’s have lost seven of their last ten games and have lost two of three to the Los Angeles Angels over the weekend including Sunday’s 4-1 loss. A’s pitcher Cole Irvin lost the contest and the A’s are not getting any run support.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the lead Spanish play by play announcer for the Oakland A’s on flagship station Le Grande KIQI 1010 San Francisco and does News and Commentary at

One Run Or Fewer: A’s offense continues to struggle in 4-1 loss at Anaheim

By Morris Phillips

Look at the A’s schedule: they haven’t seen much AL West competition thus far, and with those teams that know them best up now, the obvious conclusion is that things could get worse.

Things got worse this weekend in Anaheim. For that, the A’s can point to Patrick Sandoval and Shohei Ohtani. We’ll call them the usual suspects.

Ohtani homered–as did Mike Trout–and the Angels cruised to a 4-1 win over the A’s as Sandoval deftly managed his effective offerings to reach the eighth inning. If the score and result looks familiar, it’s because it is. Last Sunday in Oakland, Sandoval cruised, and Ohtani homered in the first inning in the A’s 4-1 loss. This first round of AL West rival action clearly goes to Anaheim, winners of five of the first seven of 19 contests between the clubs.

The toothless A’s have dropped 20 of 29 after an encouraging 8-6 start to the season. And Sunday marked the 16th time the team has scored one run or fewer (1-15 in those games). Against Sandoval, the A’s managed three singles and Kevin Smith’s eighth inning double. Christian Pache, mired in a 1 for 23 stretch, knocked in Smith for the A’s only run.

“For my money, when he has fastball command, he should normally be pitching in the seventh, eighth, ninth inning,” manager Joe Maddon said of Sandoval. “The way his stuff is, they don’t get good swings at it. Don’t get good looks at it.”

Sandoval’s brilliance allowed the Angels’ bats to be patient with A’s starter Cole Irvin, who was returning from a stint on the injured list. The Angels got single runs in the first, second and fifth against Irvin. Trout homered off Justin Grimm in the seventh, a laser inside the left field foul pole.

The A’s are 2-5 in a stretch of games against divisional opponents that continues through June 1. Seattle is next, then Texas and Houston. The A’s will have to pick up their offense to compete. But their gutty starters have faltered as of late too. Irvin’s loss on Sunday drops the Oakland starters to 0-6 over the last 10 games.

But the issues don’t stop there: seven A’s errors over the last nine games have the defense showing wear. Thirty errors in 43 games ranks the team near the bottom of the American League.

On Monday, the A’s open a three-game set against the Mariners in Seattle with Zach Logue facing Marco Gonzales.

A Lot From A Little: A’s avoid sweep, win 2-0, Irvin sharp for first, five innings

By Morris Phillips

OAKLAND–Don’t be surprised if you see A’s pitching star Cole Irvin on Monday… possibly on the back nine of your prized East Bay golf course seeking conditioning and relaxation.

Irvin was the biggest piece of the A’s lockout-tinged, shutout by committee which subdued the Rangers, 2-0 on Sunday afternoon at the Coliseum. Irvin’s one-hitter lasted just five innings and expended 87 pitches, but it was plenty effective. Irvin allowed a leadoff double, and three relievers consumed the final, four innings, scattering three Texas base hits.

The A’s avoided a sweep, winning the series finale despite scoring just three runs in three-game set.

This weekend was kind of tough offensively,” manager Mark Kotsay said. “We did a better job of being patient and working counts (in Sunday’s game).

A weekend absent of offense fits right in with the A’s quirky, but effective start of the season. They’ve impressed by scoring runs–they led the AL in runs scored at the start of this home stand–but 21 of those came in games 4 and 5 and not much more through 17 games now. While they haven’t frightened any opponents the team’s 9-8 start is encouraging.

Especially given that centerfielder Ramon Laureano is suspended, COVID absences marred the home stand, all the fans apparently didn’t get the memo to attend the games, and–don’t forget–a lot of talented players left town right before the season started.

Dizzying if you’re not a player, but for the A’s themselves, a bunch to digest. That and the first 17 games without a day off. Not surprisingly, Monday will be for mind and body rejuvenation for the team, with Irvin making his intentions clear in the clubhouse.

“I will be on the golf course,” Irvin said. “Taking my time, enjoying it. I’ve got to get on the links a little bit. Going to have some fun.”

Irvin’s already made four starts and he’s had some success. But he’s gearing up for the busiest of his four seasons at the big league level, and that was apparent in his post-game comments. Irvin’s making adjustments, developing characteristics and enjoying the process.

“I found some confidence in my slider grip and I figured out what I was doing to throw it more consistently,” Irvin said. “The cutter was moving like a slider but it was fun to throw, kept guys off balance. Fastball command was big, too.”

Relievers Zach Jackson, Kirby Snead and Dany Jimenez were unshakeable as the back end of Oakland’s inexperienced, but not youthful bullpen. Jackson cruised through the sixth and seventh, Snead retired Cory Seager after Marcus Semien doubled, and Jimenez survived an eventful ninth to earn the save.

I’m tipping my cap to Dany right now,” Kotsay said. “He’s done a tremendous job. He gets a little bit of traffic and still keeps his composure. Today, I still felt he threw quality pitches.”

“They’re pitching like they have experience,” said Stephen Piscotty of the relievers.

Piscotty’s home run in the fourth gave Oakland the lead and the only runs of the afternoon. The A’s homegrown outfielder doubled on Saturday, making his first two games back from the COVID-list eventful after he was hampered by injuries last season and saw his power disappear.

“I’m definitely trying to have more fun and it’s more fun when you’re healthy, no doubt about that,” Piscotty said. “I don’t know, just to get in there, get to play. It feels natural.”

The A’s visit Oracle Park and the Giants on Tuesday, the first of two by the Bay. Dalton Jeffries gets the start in the opener.

More of the Same: The A’s season finale mirrors their uneven season as a whole in a rough 7-6 loss to the Astros

By Morris Phillips

Hard to believe, and even harder to watch, the A’s finished their season in familiar fashion. Building three, one-run leads, squandering them, and ultimately falling short after a valiant, ninth inning comeback in a 7-6 loss to the Astros at Minute Maid Park.

In the complicated, nuanced vernacular unique to this sometimes confounding game of baseball, you can’t make this stuff up.

You can imagine what manager Bob Melvin said after the game. Really, in this case you could mimic his words as they were said.

“We came up just short, like we did this season, unfortunately,” Melvin said. “But I think next year, it just gives us a little bit more edge to get back to the postseason.”

The A’s finished the season 86-76, third in the AL West behind the Astros and the hard-luck Mariners, who missed the postseason for an on-going record within all of the four major U.S. sports of 20 consecutive seasons. The A’s opened the season with six losses, but followed that soon after with a 13-game win streak, and their 44-21 record that concluded on June 18 was the best run in Major League Baseball within that 65-game stretch.

Then things got disjointed, the team’s momentum stalled, and did so in a frustrating way in which the team’s offense and pitching took turns sputtering. The A’s finished the season with a 42-50 record in their last 92, With the postseason still within reach in the last three weeks season, the A’s lost 12 of 16.

That’s a long stretch to play poorly, and a more intense level of frustration followed the team in September. It was hard on the team, the management and the fans. But the A’s are clearly capable. When Melvin says they can bounce back in 2022, that’s almost a certainty given their track record. But this is Oakland, California, and these are the A’s: what happens this off-season is anyone’s guess.

But we do know this: Melvin’s correct, the 2022 A’s can bounce back, but as always they’re going to need the majority of their roster intact, and make some pricey decisions that more often than not have lead them to do something less than pricey. Just the decisions regarding retaining Ramon Laureano (80-game PED suspension) and Starling Marte (arguably the most effective trade deadline acquisition in MLB) will be fascinating.

But this division is anyone’s to control, even with the presence of the 2017 champion Astros. The Angels have spent the last six seasons issuing expensive contracts, but getting little to show for it. We’ve already mentioned the plight of Mariners. The Rangers are in rebuilding mode, although their new stadium and surprisingly, robust attendance could speed up a revival. And the Astros have been great, but nobody stays great forever, and the return or possible retirement of Dusty Baker as manager will be one of the postseason’s storylines.

Of course, the A’s have their own uncertainties to add to the mix. Despite the easing of COVID restrictions, their attendance was abysmal. And the Oakland-Las Vegas “where will they play?” saga is enough to cripple any franchise especially given the drama has reached its second decade.

So in summation: we’ll see what transpires.

On Sunday, the A’s scored single runs in the second and third, getting solo shots from Seth Brown and Tony Kemp. But the Astros matched, and the game was tied 2-2 in the fourth, when the A’s gained a third lead, 3-2, on Kemp’s sacrifice fly that scored Luis Barrera.

A’s starter Cole Irvin went six innings, allowing five hits and striking out four, but he departed trailing 4-3 after he was touched for a two-run homer courtesy of Kyle Tucker in the fifth.

Houston added insurance runs in the seventh and eighth and appeared to be headed to the playoffs gracefully, leading 6-3 headed to the ninth. The AL West champs will host the White Sox in a best-of-five starting Thursday.

But the A’s came up clutch in the ninth. Chad Pinder led off with a base hit, and Seth Brown brought the visitors within a run and nobody out with a two-run homer that was the seventh of eight hit in the game.

The eighth? With two outs, Khris Davis delivered, tying the game and bringing back memories of his best days in an Oakland uniform.

Melvin turned to Lou Trivino to handle the bottom of the ninth, and get the final game of the season to extras. But it didn’t happen.

Jason Castro led off with a single, and after Jose Altuve was retired, Trivino surrendered a double to Yordan Alvarez with Castro stopping at third. Two pitches later, the season ended with Mark Canha’s swiping concession of a base hit from Yuli Gurriel that landed less than 10 feet in front of the leftfielder.

“We didn’t finish off the game like we wanted, but to have the fight in the ninth inning to come back and tie the game like that, especially with Khris’ homer at the end, it was a really good feeling,” Melvin said.

A’s Swept in Toronto: Lose 8-0, fall further behind in the AL Wild Card chase

By Morris Phillips

Not the day to be north of the border with an important appointment with AL pitcher of the moment Robbie Ray.

For the A’s, not at all.

The last time–and only other time–they saw Ray, he was trying to string together victories for the first time this season and admittedly struggling with fastball command. Ray of May 4, 2021 allowed solo shots to Matt Chapman and Ramon Laureano, but didn’t falter much more than that in a six-inning stint that was slightly above pedestrian, but only nabbed him a no-decision.

Fast forward four months and Ray’s fastball-slider repertoire is top shelf, well known for fooling AL batters from coast-to-coast. On Sunday, he mesmerized the A’s without allowing a hit through five innings, and striking out 10 in before being lifted after 107 pitches in the seventh.

“He’s probably the best pitcher in baseball right now, from what I’ve seen,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said of Ray. “When he takes that mound, everybody feels he’s going to give you a chance.”

With Ray pinpointing mid-90’s fastballs on both sides of the plate, the Blue Jays cruised, winning 8-0, and sweeping the A’s in the process. Oakland’s struggling, to term it kindly, having lost 14 of 20, and probably consecutive losses away from being a footnote in the AL Wild Card chase that’s gotten away from them.

The A’s managed just two hits on the afternoon, but tellingly, that wasn’t their low light. Starter Cole Irvin didn’t survive three innings–the shortest start of his career–and left trailing 7-0 after surrendering home runs to Marcus Semien and Alejandro Kirk. That early deficit left the A’s in an impossible spot, regardless of Ray’s presence, but did take the pressure off their leaky bullpen, which gained some confidence by pitching 5 2/3 innings and allowing just one run.

Coming in the A’s porous relievers had blown seven saves in the previous 13 games. A’s starters haven’t done their part to help that bullpen, having completed just five innings or fewer in 13 of the last 21 games. And the A’s offense has been okay lately, but they haven’t made a habit of striking first, and their herculean comeback efforts have come up short more often than not.

In times like this–with the A’s now four games behind the second Wild Card-seated Red Sox, and having Toronto and Seattle in front of them as well for the first time after Sunday’s results–it’s good to have an unwavering supporter. The A’s have that in manager Bob Melvin.

“I think the best part of our season is yet to come,” Melvin said. “I really do. I think we’re gonna get home and play our best stretch of baseball. We’re gonna get on a run before the season is over and have two teams we need to beat (Seattle and first place Houston) there at the end.”

Getting through the next two weeks comes first for Oakland, and the AL Central-leading White Sox come to the Coliseum on Tuesday to test their resolve. Step one for the A’s: gain traction at home against the Sox and Rangers over the weekend, and stop the bleeding.

And of course, avoid Robbie Ray types.

On Tuesday, the A’s have James Kaprelian in a starting role in a matchup with the White Sox’s starter, who has not been determined as of yet.

A’s drop another one in Seattle, have competition for 2nd wild card spot

By Morris Phillips

Only one major league club is neither currently holding a postseason spot or tethered to an uninspiring .500 won-loss record or below. Increasing the growing interest around that club: they haven’t made a postseason appearance since 2001. That only one club would hold this distinction so close to the trade deadline is unusual.

But thanks to the Oakland A’s and a string of three, consecutive one-run losses, the Seattle Mariners are picking up steam and notoriety.

“It’s been preached this rebuild so much, but I mean we’re right there on the edge of this thing,” Seattle’s Kyle Seager said. “Certainly you would like to have them make moves and get the team as good as we possibly can.”

The A’s came to Seattle looking to create space between themselves and the Mariners. Instead they won the opener, and spent an additional three days in the Emerald City being miserable.

“Last night stung,” said Sunday’s A’s starter Cole Irvin. “Anytime you lose a one-run game against a team in your division, and on top of that, fighting for the Wild Card spot in your possession, it’s not easy to swallow. We’re gonna have to bounce back here and collect ourselves.”

So for now, the AL West is a three-team battle, and that increases intrigue with the trade deadline approaching this week. The Mariners in particular have players that have tremendous value on the trade market, most notably slugger Mitch Haniger and resurgent, remade reliever Kendall Graveman. Now with the longest playoff drought in the game hanging over their heads, they’ll have no choice but to hang onto their assets, as well as look to add a couple of pieces.

“The teams that feel like they have a chance to go after a division title or a Wild Card berth, there’s going to be a lot of movement,” manager Scott Servais said. “I think it all comes down to the last 72 hours, and being a part of a lot of those discussions, in my past, I realize how that all works.”

Marco Gonzales pitched into the sixth inning for Seattle, and left with a 4-2 lead courtesy of a four-run, third inning that saddled Irvin with the loss. Kyle Seager, Luis Torrens and Tom Murphy came up with RBI hits in the inning, and the A’s found themselves unable to mount a suitable response. Seth Brown’s solo shot off Casey Sadler brought the A’s within 4-3 in the seventh, but that was all they could muster.

The Mariners improved to 23-8 in one-run ballgames, and pulled within a game-and-a-half of the A’s for the second wild card. Seattle started fast two seasons ago–the last time they were as many as eight games above .500–but then they went into the tank. By the All-Star break, their 2019 season had already fallen apart. Since 2001, Seattle has won 90 games twice and finished second in the AL West three times. In that same span, the A’s have made nine postseason appearances, but have advanced to the ALCS only once.

Now both teams are in each other’s cross hairs. It figures to be exciting.

“As tough as it’s been, we know we’re a team that can get hot or ride it out. We just need a big hit or a big game,” Matt Olson said. “Something to spark us a little bit and get rolling.”