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Oakland Athletics Week 20 Review

In which the A's fall out of first place.

Atlanta's lefties got battered by Freiman.
Atlanta's lefties got battered by Freiman.
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

I'm going to keep this short, for two reasons. First, I was without Internet for a large percentage of this week due to a local power outage and so this is simply out of date now. And second, the Oakland Athletics saw their power go out as well, in a way, as they struggled to a 1-6 record in their series against the Kansas City Royals and the Atlanta Braves. Honestly, I just don't really want to talk about it.

The offense was led by nobody, basically. The A's won their only game of the week by an 11-3 score on the strength of 20 hits, and in that contest they got two homers (and a third hit) by Josh Donaldson, four hits by Brandon Moss, three hits by Sam Fuld and Josh Reddick, and a generally huge offensive day against a pitcher (Jeremy Guthrie) who owned them in their previous meeting. Otherwise, in the six losses, they scored a total of 13 runs. Granted, that came against a lot of good pitchers -- Yordano Ventura, James Shields, Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, and the Royals' dominant bullpen (plus Craig Kimbrel of Atlanta). But at some point you have to hit good pitching, and the A's didn't for most of the week. You should never, ever get shut out by Jason Vargas, but that happened. The lone bright spot was Nate Freiman, who hit three homers in two days in Atlanta but saw them squandered in a pair of losses. Stephen Vogt is hitting again, but that's about all of the good news I can report on this front.

The pitchers didn't do much better. Or maybe it just seems that way because of the lack of offense; there were only two games last week in which the A's allowed more than four runs, and that means there were five winnable contests. It doesn't help that their opponents scored in the first inning in two games and drew first blood five out of seven times. Or that the Royals' all-singles offense suddenly worked for the first time all year right when Oakland played them seven times over two weeks, or that the Braves' power hitters just suddenly all found their strokes when the A's came to town. It's tough to know, sometimes, when to blame a guy for failing and when to just tip your cap to the other guy for succeeding. Both opponents scored in totally different ways, and the only constant was the A's lineup failing to follow suit. As much as it seems like the pitching has lost its edge, it might just be that every run they give up seems so much more important now. Looking back, Sonny Gray had one quality start and one shaky one, Jon Lester had one quality and one shaky, Scott Kazmir was quality, Jeff Samardzija was shaky, and only Jason Hammel was a disaster. Outside of one game-changing Ryan Cook meltdown against the Royals, the bullpen didn't allow an earned run all week. I'm more worried about the offense than I am about the pitching.

Here are the main stories from the last week.

Nate the Great

Nate Freiman hasn't done much in Oakland this year, partly because he hasn't gotten a lot of playing time. He made the most of his two starts in Atlanta, though.

Six-Eight Nate is now slugging .574 in 50 plate appearances this season (.340 isolated slugging). So, that's neat. Perhaps he's truly found that power stroke after all, the one we all assumed he had based on his physical frame.

Happy Thoughts

The A's five-game losing streak was their longest of the season (don't worry, it was snapped on Tuesday of Week 21). They've had one more streak of four losses, and three more instances of three straight defeats. (The four-game streak was the sweep by Toronto plus a loss to the Rays in May; the three-gamers were a sweep by the Rangers in April, a sweep by the Tigers in June/July, and the first three of a four-game set against the Mariners in May.) It was a bummer that it happened, but it's nice to know that it's the worst thing the A's have experienced all season.

OK, that paragraph still wasn't very happy. So, here's the recap of Oakland's 11-3 victory:

There, that feels better. Slightly.

The Hot Corner

Just your weekly reminder that Josh Donaldson is a wizard with the glove. He can do it in the air:

... and he can do it on the ground, too.

OK, that was pretty much all of the things that happened last week that I want to talk about. Everything else was terrible and you should just forget about it, either because it was a blip on the season's radar or because it was the beginning of the end of the A's being World Series favorites. Almost certainly the former, but either way. The new week has begun, and it already includes a win. Let's move on, just like the team has.