It must be frustrating to be Bob Melvin right now, because his team looks both physically and mentally tired and there is literally nothing he can do to help. At a time when the A's desperately needed a day off, instead they got "time-and-a-half" last night and a loss to boot -- pardon the expression, given some of the defense this week.
However, help is on the way.
The A's must grind out one more game, and unfortunately it's a relatively big one in that it represents a 2-game swing against the team chasing them, with Oakland trying to avoid a series sweep. And then they have what will surely feel like nirvana.
Oakland not only has an off-day Thursday, but it is kind of the platinum "off days of off days". Their flight is all of an hour long, they return home, they have all of Thursday off and then their next game is not until Friday night. It is really more like two days off, and you can bet that the weary A's will come to the ballpark Friday with a few extra bounces in their steps.
How much of the current fatigue relates to playing 22 games in 23 days, how much relates to Oakland's "high frequent flier miles" travel schedule, and how much relates to the events in Baltimore, is anybody's guess. What's clear is that Jed Lowrie's swing looks as sluggish as his throwing arm, Josh Donaldson is a mess, Brandon Moss has struck out in 15 of his last 32 plate appearances ("ladies and gentlemen, your 2-3-4 hitters!!!"), Alberto Callaspo's hits these days coincide roughly with Halley's comet, and the team has been prone to making mental mistakes that make Little Leaguers clap their hand to their forehead: "Our coach just went over this!"
It's not their fault and it's not the fault of Melvin and his coaching staff. It's fatigue, be it physical, mental, or both, and the only cure is a day away. And it's coming in a big way, but not until tomorrow. My suggestion would be to go with the following "split squad lineup" against Jered Weaver:
Crisp - CF
Jaso - DH
Lowrie - SS
Moss - RF
Cespedes - LF
Vogt - C
Blanks - 1B
Punto - 3B
Sogard - 2B
(Editor's Note: I had Callaspo not available thinking he was starting his 3-day paternity leave today, but it turns out he will leave after tonight's game and miss the Yankees' series.)
The bullpen isn't actually in terrible shape for tonight's game, especially knowing there is a day off Thursday. Sean Doolittle, after throwing just 28 pitches in 2 IP, is probably ok to close. Luke Gregerson (24 pitches) should be good for an inning if needed. Fernando Abad got yesterday off as did Jim Johnson, who becomes your long reliever.
Try to grind out a win tonight but also realize that you're in the catbird seat either way. You will leave Anaheim in first place, and you will finally get the R & R for which there is simply no substitute. You will come out Friday night either 1.5 or 3.5 games up, and more importantly you will come out with guns blazing. The calendar is your bitter enemy right now and in about 12 hours it will be your only savior. You just have to get there.