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Game #82: One step forward, two steps back

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Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Hey! The A's got swept again.

I'm sure you could've seen this coming, given the course of this season. These A's can't seem to keep up any semblance of momentum whatsoever. They were 6-2 in their last eight, dominating the Angels and the Giants. Now, with their best three pitchers going, they can't manage a single win against the sub-.500 Pirates.

Or at least they were sub-.500, until they swept us. At least one fanbase is happy today.

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Here are some Fun Facts™ about this awful, awful series:

Did you know that every starting pitcher the A's faced this series had an ERA above 5.00?

Did you know that the A's scored first in every game of this series, and still somehow managed to get swept?

Did you know that baseball is awful and no one should ever watch it?

Did you know that life is fleeting, death comes for us all, and all joy will turn to ash your mouth?

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At least Daniel Mengden was fun. He was really spectacular for the first four innings -€” great command, four above-average pitches, hitters looking silly. He got into a little bit of trouble in the second inning, but got out of it totally unharmed. No big deal, Mengden is awesome.

The fifth inning is where it began to fall apart on him –€” his command left him and he starting leaving pitches all over the plate. A double and 5-pitch walk put two men on with nobody out, but Mengden made a really awesome play to get the lead runner at third.

Although -€” I don't know. Remember that scene in Moneyball where Billy Beane tells his players just to take the out at first when people bunt? It worked out, but I learned 90% of what I know about baseball from Moneyball, so I'm apprehensive about how smart an idea that is.

Either way, it didn't really work out. Gregory Polanco singled in the run anyway, and back-to-back strikeouts ended the inning.

Mengden's command totally left him in the sixth, resulting in two runs after a walk-triple-walk-fluky infield single sequence. Further damage was prevented when Liam Hendriks and Marc Rzepczynski got huge, bases loaded strikeouts.

And of course, he's totally allowed to fall apart like that once in a while, doesn't mean anything. Dude's a rookie who I expected to spend the year in AA. This stuff will happen. Mengden's 2016 is totally found money, it would be incredibly unreasonable to expect ace-like results, or the second coming of Sonny Gray's 2013. Dude's an incredibly awesome pitcher already, and that's crazy. But he doesn't have to be an ace yet.

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The A's offense was the real goat of this game, though.

It started out alright. Weirdly enough, Matt McBride and Billy Butler were the only really productive players today. Two runs scored in the second inning, driven in by a Butler double and a McBride broken-bat groundout. Another run scored in the fifth after a booming ground-rule double by McBride and an RBI single from Crisp. That's when the struggle started.

RISP situations were a bit of a struggle earlier in the season, but over the past few weeks, the issues were mostly solved. Not so today.

In the fifth, a ground-rule double from Marcus Semien (two ground-rule doubles in one inning is weird, right?) moved runners to second and third with one out. No one scored.

6th inning: two men on, one out, rocketed line drive double play, because the baseball gods hate us.

7th inning: two men on, nobody out, no runs scored.

Frustration. This game was pure frustration.

Oh, also, John Axford allowed a homer in the 8th inning, but that didn't matter, so whatever. And Fernando Rodriguez got injured, which seems fitting for a game like this. Other than that the bullpen was pretty great. Rzepcznski did his job, Hendriks looked good, Daniel Coulombe looked great.

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I don't want to say this loss ends any fantasy about getting back into the playoff race -€– one series can't do that, and that was a huge longshot to begin with. But man. I'm just getting excited about #trades at this point. Give me some prospects to be excited about. Let's see some games started by Nick Tepesch. Let's get weird.