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Game #53: Make It Eight Straight

If Boston loses tonight, Oakland will officially be back in the playoff picture.

Seattle Mariners v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

There wasn’t a single hero today. With two of the A’s best hitters out — Khris Davis and Stephen Piscotty — the lineup, from top to bottom, stepped up to power the team to a 6-5 win over the severely slumping Mariners.

The only A’s batter who didn’t reach base today was Robbie Grossman, who was filling in for a sick Piscotty. The rest, time after time, came through with numerous clutch hits. And they weren’t just homers, as the A’s are used to. Besides Chappy’s solo dinger in the bottom of the 1st, the team’s next four runs were scored via single or double with runners on base. This is what the A’s offense looks like at their best: long at-bats, runners constantly on base, clutch base hits and sac flies, and, of course, some homers mixed in.

*** Game Thread #1 | Game Thread #2 ***

They weren’t going up against a slouch, either. Yusei Kikuchi entered this outing carrying a 2.03 ERA in May, with almost all of his numbers having improved since April. All indications point to him reaching his true talent level as he adjusts to major league hitting. However, this wasn’t his night. He allowed 10 hits, 5 runs (4 earned), and couldn’t get out of the 4th. Although he threw a lot of strikes, the A’s remained patient, making him work until they got their pitch.

Our guy, Mike Fiers, had a fairly classic Mike Fiers start. He gave up two homers and only struck out three — classic Mike! But he also didn’t walk anyone and didn’t let the M’s hitters have any easy at-bats. Ultimately, he kept us in the game for six innings and that’s exactly what the A’s need from him for the rest of the season.

On the downside, Blake Treinen is still not looking quite like himself. Following a long and stressful inning last night, in which he allowed three batters to reach base, Blake’s struggles got even worse today. He came in with a three-run lead but, two doubles and a home run later, he left with just one run to spare. If it weren’t for an incredible sliding catch from Robbie Grossman in foul territory to secure the second out, the A’s might still be trying to steal the lead back right now.

I don’t know if there’s been any period this season in which Blake has looked dominant multiple nights in a row. After today’s game, he’s allowed more earned runs than he did all of last season. Obviously, 7 earned runs over 162 games is a high bar to live up to, but it is only May. The most worrying sign is that his peripherals think he’s actually been fortunate to still carry just a 3.20 ERA. With the high number of baserunners and flyballs he’s allowed, he’ll really need to fix something before things get out of hand.

Fortunately for the A’s, Lou Trivino and Ryan Buchter came out hot tonight. Each struck out a pair and didn’t allow any trouble on the bases. Buchter’s outing, especially, is an encouraging sign given that he was one of the team’s top setup guys last year but started this year with a demotion to Triple-A. If he can fill the Fernando-Rodney-sized hole currently plaguing the team’s bullpen, the A’s may not need 2018 Blake Treinen to get back to October.

A great all-around win to keep the A’s rolling. As noted above, the team could end the day tied with the Red Sox for the second AL Wild Card, which would be the first time this year that the A’s have been in line for a playoff spot. With the way the team’s playing, they may even end up challenging for home-field advantage in the Wild Card game. Or, cross your fingers, the AL West division title? I know, that’s a long ways away, but that’s how good the A’s look right now.