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Game #162: It’s Time For October Baseball

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Game Thread

Thank goodness for the A’s. For millions of baseball fans everywhere, that daily comfort of watching their team give their all disappears today. The playoffs offer a means to stop a person from quitting baseball completely cold turkey, but they just aren’t nearly as satisfying if you don’t have any skin in the game. For all of the ups and downs of this franchise, the team has wound up playing October baseball more than 26 other teams over the last couple decades, and is the only “small market” team amongst its peers. That is a lot of bliss. It was all followed by a lot of heartbreak.

This 2019 squad is definitively and demonstrably superior than any of those other A’s teams entering the postseason in the decades before them, and one needs to look back to 1989 to find a team that has 2019 beat on raw talent. Perhaps, 30 years later, Oakland can find that same October magic again.

With the “B” lineup in place, today’s game saw the A’s continue to struggle to hit much of anything at all, but particularly the team’s struggled to do anything productive at the plate with runners in scoring position. A pitching staff that has been very bad all year long stymied the A’s hitters and kept the team scoreless in the final game. The A’s did have a couple of chances to score in the 3rd and 6th innings, but a poor approach from A’s hitters ensured no runs would score. The A’s went 0-25 with runners in scoring position this series. They went 2-18 at Anaheim the series before.

In the 9th, the A’s were gifted a rally on a leadoff walk that was followed by a wild pitch. The following batters manufactured the run without the benefit with a hit, preventing the A’s from getting shut out on their last day.

It seems as though the offense has splattered up against a cement wall and is trying to patch itself back together again without much success. With the large number of road games and few off days towards the end of the season, plus with the intensity and concentration needed to overcome a slight deficit and maintain a slight lead in a playoff race, it could very well be that R&R is all the offense needs to get back on track.

Facing the Rays and then the Astros won’t make things any easier for the offense, but the hitters looking lifeless the last week-plus shouldn’t have any sinister implications for the postseason at large. Probably.

Tanner Roark made his final start of the season, in preparation for the postseason. Roark’s last time out, he looked bad, giving up a personal worst four home runs, and in general he has labored a bit more in September than he ever did in August with the A’s. To instill some confidence going into October, it would have been nice to see Roark on his game today, but he didn’t look great today either. He only gave up one home run in this outing, but a lot of booming fly balls that the cavernous T-Mobile Park turned into deep fly outs would have been guaranteed to be goners in Houston and New York.

Roark could only last five innings, giving up three runs total, though arguably only two were really his fault, as one run scored as a result of a misplay by Skye Bolt in center field. Roark also struck out five and walked two today. In relief of Roark, the bullpen, via Buchter, Petit, Wendelken, and Bassitt, kept the Mariners at bay. While it has been such a volatile unit all season long, unlike the offense, the bullpen looks postseason ready. A few blown saves from Liam Hendriks aside, it looks like the additions of Puk and Luzardo has finally provided some stability to the bullpen.

Rest up, AN. It’s time for October baseball.