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Game #146: A's go down meekly to Chris Sale, lose 1-0

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Gosh, whatever, A's.

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Welp, that was a thing.

This is really a game the A’s should have lost. Chris Sale, the best lefty in baseball, versus the A’s, who are completely confounded by left-handed pitchers? This was pretty much a foregone conclusion. That doesn’t make it hurt any less, though. Going 1-3 against the White Sox is just absolutely incredible.

The worst thing about this series is, we could have easily gone 3-1. All of our three losses were one-run contests, with two coming via epic late inning collapses. That’s the worst. If the A’s had just gotten blown out like a normal bad team, this would have been easier to stomach. But the A’s keep coming tantalizingly close to pulling out a win every night, standing at the edge of finally, finally, finally, looking and feeling like a contender again. And it just seems like they can’t go through that wide-open door.

No, no, no, the worst thing about this series was the pitching. The pitching was absolutely masterful. Jeff Samardjiza, Sonny Gray, and Scott Kazmir combined to give up 4 runs in 22 IP. The A’s lost all three starts.

Kazmir was the best of the bunch, turning in his second greatest performance of the year. Everything was on for Scott tonight, and he made exactly one mistake in the 8 innings he pitched. Unfortunately, that mistake was hit out, and Kazmir took the hardest luck loss possible. Man, there’s nothing worse than complete game losses. Jeez.

I really didn’t expect much from the offense, given recent trends and the fact that Chris Sale is really, really good. The A’s put together some valiant teAses in the 8th and 9th inning, but yeah, they still managed to get shut out. Because A’s.

There’s just not a lot to say about this game. In another world, this would have been an incredible and entertaining pitchers’ duel, like Anibal Sanchez versus Kazmir earlier this year. In this world, where the A’s have somehow become terrible, it was just a miserable trudge towards the inevitable. At least it was over quickly, ending in just over two hours.

What I do have to say is a bit of hope: the A’s aren’t doomed because of a bad ending to the season. I’d like to bring you back to the 2006 Cardinals, who absolutely backed into the playoffs on virtue of a terribly weak NL Central.

While going 48-39 and looking like a legitimate contender in the first half of the season, the wheels absolutely fell off in the second half. They went 35 - 39 the rest of the way, including a miserable 13-15 August and an even more miserable 12-17 September. They managed to cling to a playoff spot through a fantastic first half, even though they looked nothing like a contender come playoff time.

Sound familiar?

After all that, after all the misery and the angst and the hopelessness, the Cardinals went 11-5 in the playoffs en route to a dominating World Series victory. If the A’s can just manage to cling to a playoff spot, anything can happen.

That’s why I think the fire Beane talk is ridiculous, the fire Melvin talk is more ridiculous, and the "blow the team up and trade Donaldson" talk is the most ridiculous of all. It doesn’t feel like the A’s are contenders right now, but they are. They’re in it, and they can still win it.

Earlier this year, I thought that the 2014 A’s were the single greatest team Beane had ever constructed, including the Moneyball teams. That team is still in there somewhere, and they could break out at any moment. Just keep waiting. And waiting. And waiting…