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Game #58: Bullpen Costs A’s Third Straight

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MLB: Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that was a disappointing (and costly) start to a promising weekend. The A’s best chance (at least on paper) of a win in this series looked to be tonight, with Brad Peacock on the mound. Not that he’s not a good pitcher in his own right, but he also isn’t a Justin Verlander (especially against the A’s) or a Garret Cole; see Saturday and Sunday.

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

I’m not saying that two runs should have been enough to beat the Astros. But tonight it could have been; the A’s 2-0 lead thanks to Matt Chapman’s home run in the third (his 15th of the year) held all the way into the seventh inning when Fiers finally gave up a run as he exited the game and Lou Trivino picked right where he left off with the disastrous five runs on Wednesday by allowing the tying run in the seventh and the go-ahead in the eighth.

This game was a huge swing in the standings as well; with a win, the A’s close the gap to 6.5 game back, and now they’re waving from 8.5. As has been the case for the last three games coming off the epic win streak, the endings have truly ruined some terrific baseball games.

Tonight was no exception; especially jarring from last year, where all the A’s starters had to do was get into the seventh inning to win the game; right now nothing at all is certain with this bullpen and one of the A’s most dependable pitchers has quite certainly cost them the last two games. I mean, sure, get a runner home from third with one out, and score more than two runs, but make no mistake; this loss is again hung on the ‘pen.

Mike Fiers pitched six scoreless innings and two outs into the seventh before getting in trouble tonight, and he deserved more than the no decision he got. He wasn’t lights-out; he definitely was a shaky sort of good, but he allowed just four hits in the game (and three walks).

It’s not that the A’s offense didn’t have the chances in the game; they did. Peacock issued two two-out walks in the first inning before Stephen Piscotty flew out to end the inning, and the first two reached in the second (a Mark Canha single and a Jurickson Profar walk) before Ramon Laureano grounded out into a rare double play. The only runs the A’s managed to score in the game came in the third after a Robbie Grossman single; Matt Chapman homered to give the A’s the 2-0 lead.

And then, it all fell apart in the seventh. With one out, Josh Reddick homered to cut the lead to 2-1, and with two outs, Fiers issued what could have been a harmless walk and promptly exited the game in favor of Lou Trivino. Who promptly gave up a game-tying, two-out double. And then, to add insult to injury, gave up a leadoff home run to Derek Fisher in the eighth to lose the game for the A’s.

To be fair, the A’s should have had their third in their own seventh, as a double by Laureano opened the inning and moved to third on a sac bunt by Josh Phegley (!!). And then the A’s failed to score the run on an amazing play by the shortstop on Marcus Semien’s ground out and that was it. They meekly went into the good night in the eighth and ninth, leaving all of us wanting something different.

Here’s to hoping tomorrow’s better. Same time, same place. Brett Anderson and the A’s offense takes on Justin Verlander at 7:07. We’ll see you back here to see if the A’s can start a new streak (perhaps with Khris Davis?)