The A’s seventh straight win was not to be on Thursday in Baltimore. Much like the A’s recent sweep of the the Texas Rangers, this was supposed to be an easy win for the green and gold. It was, after all, the only O’s 42nd win of the season — whereas if the Athletics had won it would have been their 90th win. Instead they are stuck with 89 and they fell to the O’s by the score of 5-3. That’s how it goes a lot of the time, however. It’s not uncommon for a strong team, especially one that has already won their previous six games, to lose to a team that is the lowest of the low, but in any sport — especially baseball — sometimes losses like the one the Athletics suffered Thursday are just inevitable.
In this case the A’s couldn’t have picked a more perfect day to lose. It would have also been just as a perfect a day to win, with neither the Astros nor the Yankees on the schedule Thursday. The A’s loss only put them another half game back of both teams, one and a half back of the Yankees in the Wild Card standings and three and half back of the Astros in the division. This loss was almost meant to be as it snapped a six-game losing streak for the Orioles and halted the A’s six-game win streak.
The A’s could have very easily defeated the Orioles Thursday. They just could not seem push runners across the plate. Sure they scored three runs, one each in the second, fifth and eighth innings, but they had so many more chances. The A’s were 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position at Camden Yards.
It even appeared that they may have some of their usual late-inning comeback magic up their sleeves in their often eighth inning. After loading the bases on singles by Ramon Laureano and Matt Chapman and a one-out walk from Khris Davis, they were only able to push across one run in the inning. It was on a second straight walk from Orioles reliever Miguel Castro to Matt Olson with the bases loaded, allowing Laureano to score and cutting the Orioles’ lead down to just one run. With one out and the bases still loaded the A’s left all three runners stranded as Stephen Piscotty struck out swinging and Marcus Semien hit a fly ball straight to O’s right fielder Joey Rickard to put an end to the inning. The Orioles scored their fifth run in the bottom of the eighth to regain their 2-1 lead over the Atheltics.
The eighth inning may have been the A’s biggest missed opportunity as they stranded three runners but they also left a runner on in third, two in the sixth and another in the ninth. In his post game conversation with the press, A’s skipper Bob Melvin explained that in most cases the A’s would have come through with runners on, especially in the team’s normally magical eighth inning, saying,
“We give ourselves opportunities a lot, and typically we do come through. So it was another game where we had a chance -- especially in the eighth inning, which is a big inning for us -- and we just didn’t come through.”
Sometimes that’s just the way it is in this game, however — you really just can’t win them all.
A’s pitching woes continue as the rotation took yet another blow — or two?
Starting pitcher Brett Anderson, fresh off of his second DL stint of the season, allowed seven singles and four runs to the Orioles’ hitters in just three and a third innings. He lasted all of an hour in the game, before an unsurprising visit to the oft-injured pitcher from the A’s training staff. Anderson remained in the game but allowed a single to the next batter he faced, O’s second baseman Breyvic Valera, which ended his night. Anderson allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out two in his brief outing.
With Anderson’s long history of injuries (and it really is absurdly long) the visit from the trainer is a bit concerning but after the game Anderson seemed to be feeling fine, calling his outing a “small victory” because his body “felt good.” And apparently, in his mind at least, his “stuff was fine,” adding,
“Today was about as frustrating as you can get, because every ground ball seemed to find a hole. Whenever I got weak contact, it was too soft to get him out, so it was just one of those days where it was extremely frustrating.”
The A’s — sort of — dodged one bullet in this crazy season with Anderson being alright, despite taking the loss Thursday. However their already completely depleted pitching staff took yet another hit when it was announced that veteran right-hander Trevor Cahill had been dealing with a strained rhomboid muscle in his back and was being sent back to Oakland for an MRI. With his next start scheduled for Saturday in St. Petersberg against the Tampa Bay Rays, the A’s will most likely be “bullpenning” it again, with Liam Hendriks as the most likely candidate to serve as the team’s “opener.” The team has had to use an astounding 14 different starting pitchers so far in 2018, and the season isn’t over yet.
Even though Piscotty’s homer in the second inning extended his hitting streak to 14 games, Nick Martini was the offensive star of the show for the A’s on Thursday. In Wednesday’s contest he had two hits in the A’s ten-run third inning. On Thursday he added on three more, plus a walk and RBI number 14, to his relatively brief resume. Since making his MLB debut on June 6, Martini has appeared in 42 games for the A’s. He reached base in all four at-bats Thursday, and the rookie on-base machine upped his OBP too a whopping .400 on the year. His batting average is now at .294. And to top off those insanely good numbers, the game was Martini’s 10th multi-hit game of the season.
Even losing ground with Thursday’s loss, the A’s really aren’t in that much worse of a position with 15 games left to play in the regular season. At this point it’s mainly about obtaining home field advantage against the Yankees which would be great, yet at the same time the A’s have been great on the road this season so maybe playing in the Bronx wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
The season continues tomorrow as Edwin Jackson and the A’s take on the Tampa Bay Rays Friday at 4:10 PDT.