The A’s, looking for their 77th win of the season, faced off with the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on Thursday evening. Currently one-game back in the division after their loss to the Texas Rangers on Sunday, the A’s had hoped to right the ship and keep the Houston Astros’ within easy reach.
Cahill on the Road and the A’s bullpen
But it was not to be for the A’s on Thursday. Even with Cahill on the mound, coming of off of one of the best performances in his career against Texas in which he pitched seven innings of one-hit, shutout baseball and struck out eight batters, the team still ended up taking the loss.
Cahill has seemed to have a lot more trouble pitching on the road than in the Coliseum. The difference in his numbers are really quite striking. When pitching at home in Oakland, Cahill has averaged close to seven innings per outing and has posted a 0.85 ERA. When pitching on the road, however, he has averaged just under five innings an outing and posted a 6.92 ERA. That’s a seriously huge difference. Hopefully in the future the A’s will use this information when he starts on the road. Perhaps removing him from the game if he gives up a run or even appears to be a position to allow a run.
That is why they built the bullpen after all. On a bad day any one of the Oakland starters can be replaced by a reliever in even the second inning. The A’s bullpen can simply take it from there. With the recent additions of Jeurys Familia, Shawn Kelley and Fernando Rodney, added to an already strong crew of Yusmeiro Petit, Emilio Pagan, Lou Trivino and All-Star closer Blake Treinen, many of whom can pitch multiple innings, they A’s bullpen could technically be used to play an entire game. Of course this isn’t something you could do everyday, as the relievers in the bullpen need their days off too, but it’s something to think about with Cahill on the mound while on the road.
However this loss was not all on Cahill. The A’s just couldn’t get the big hit, leaving nine men on base over the course of the game. The A’s left a man on in the top of the second, two in the third, another two in the fourth, fifth and eighth innings, which, to be honest is pretty ridiculous. In the fifth Matt Olson almost made it home on a Marcus Semien single to left but was called out the plate. A’s skipper Bob Melvin did decide to challenge the play at the plate, but on a second look Twins’ catcher Bobby Wilson had tagged Olson on the head for the final out of the inning.
Significant Home Runs
The loss wasn’t all bad as a couple of significant home runs were hit by some A’s players and some milestones were made.
To lead off the top of the second inning Khris Davis took Twins’ rookie starter Khol Stewart deep to right center for his 39th home run of the season. That home run not broke his tie with the Boston Red Sox JD Martinez as each of them were leading all of Major League Baseball in home runs with 38, it made him the sole leader in that category and put him just one home run away from becoming just the second Athletic in franchise history since Jimmie Fox accomplished the feat from 1932-1943 to ever hit 40 or more home runs in three consecutive seasons. It was also Davis’ 103 RBI on the year. He still trails Martinez in that category by having by five RBI with Martinez leading the league with 108 RBI. It’s entirely possible that Davis could end the season leading both categories.
The A’s really need to hurry up and give him an extension. Since coming to Oakland making just over the league minimum Davis’ salary has sky rocketed. In 2016 he made just over $5 million and in 2017 he got another $5 million added onto that salary through arbitration. If there is a single player on the team that the Athletics absolutely need give an extension to it is absolutely, without a doubt Khris Davis. Not only is Davis one of, if not the best hitter that the A’s have had - perhaps this entire century - he has publicly stated on numerous occasions his love for The Town, the fans and his desire to remain playing in Oakland. That’s honestly not something many players often say and the A’s need to take advantage and keep an amazing hitter who actually wants an extension to remain with the organization. He likely deserves a longer contract but earlier in the year both myself and the fans in the community thought that - worst case scenario - the A’s could at least offer Davis two years with an option for a third season. So far there has been no official word on Davis’ status with the ball club after the 2019 season.
Jed Lowrie set a major milestone for a guy who is usually known for hitting doubles. In 2017 he broke the A’s single-season doubles record with 49. He already has added on another 32 in 2018. However, Jed hasn’t just been hitting doubles this season, he’s slugging for even more power as well. Lowrie has already passed his career high for home runs in a season, which was 16. Thursday night, however, in the bottom of the ninth inning Lowrie hit a solo homer to put a run on the board making the score 6-4, it would end up being the final as Davis then popped out to end the game. That solos shot to right field by Lowrie though was a milestone home run. It was his 20th of the season and it was the first time for the 34-year-old to have a 20 home run season. That’s at least pretty special, as was Davis’ home run.
So all in all, taking a loss is never fun, but there were at least a couple of bright spots for the A’s. They are still just a half game behind the Houston Astros in the division and if they can turn things back around they can still win this four-game series with the Twins. After all, isn’t that the real goal here? You can’t sweep every team but if the A’s can keep winning series for the remainder of the year they will have a pretty good chance of over taking the Astros to win the AL West.
Tomorrow Sean Manaea will take on Twins’ starter Jake Ordorizzi. Let’s hope the A’s can get to him, score some runs, stop stranding runners and get a nice outing from Manaea - as is the A’s usual way - and get the win. Let’s Go Oakland!