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Oakland A’s fan confidence dips after some tough losses

The bullpen continues to be a problem.

Welcome to SB Nation FanPulse, a survey of fans across MLB. Each week, we send 30 polls to plugged in fans from each team. A’s fans, click HERE to learn more and join FanPulse.

A’s fans were asked last week if they have confidence in the direction of the team, and the result was one of the least positive of the season. The final tally was 71% approval, which is down 16 points from last week and marks the fifth-lowest tally this year out of 24 weeks so far.

When this survey was taken on Monday, they A’s were coming off two devastating, heartbreaking losses to the Yankees. Both times Oakland held the lead in the 8th inning, and both times New York came back for walk-off victories. In the Saturday game, the A’s led 3-2 until Aaron Judge homered off Joakim Soria in the 8th, followed by a D.J. LeMahieu dinger in the 11th. On Sunday a 4-0 lead became 4-3 in the 8th, and then, in the 9th, All-Star closer Liam Hendriks served up back-to-back long balls to Brett Gardner and Mike Ford to shock the green-and-gold faithful.

Things have gone better since then, with a 4-1 record against the Angels and Tigers, but the one loss came via yet another bullpen meltdown against a Detroit team with the worst record in the bigs. Oakland’s last six losses have been charged to relievers, and the group leads MLB with 28 blown saves.

However, it’s still a valid question to wonder whether this confusing bullpen is as bad as that blown save total suggests. They rank well in just about every major category — except actually holding close leads. For now, fans are deservedly pessimistic about the leaky crew, especially with a couple nasty blowups fresh in their memories.

Fortunately, the rest of the team is playing well. The rotation keeps tossing quality starts, and the offense ranks fifth in the majors in scoring over the last 30 days. There’s still the possibility of more help on the way, too, as top prospect Jesus Luzardo pitched another good game in Triple-A on Friday, this time in the Pacific Coast League playoffs.

In the meantime, the A’s fan approval dropped to 16th place among the 30 teams. That’s much worse than the team they’re chasing in the Wild Card standings (Rays, 97%), but slightly better than the team that’s chasing Oakland for the second WC spot (Indians, 66%). The Braves (99%) and AL West-leading Astros (98%) lead the way, while the Pirates (5%) and Rockies (9%) remain deep on the wrong end of the spectrum.

In the other weekly question, manager Bob Melvin continued his enormous fan support, though it did dip slightly after the bullpen’s whoopsies. He notched a 90% approval rating, which is down three points from last time but marks his 11th straight week at 90 or above. Only Houston’s A.J. Hinch has a longer streak of 90+% ratings.

As for the national question, it was about brawls. Fans are more OK with them than not.