Last night we saw how good the Oakland A’s look when everything goes right. Thursday brought a reminder of how bad any team can look when everything falls apart at once.
No part of the A’s roster found any success this afternoon, as they dropped a 8-3 decision to the Texas Rangers to wrap up a series loss at the Coliseum against the last-place club in their division.
Oakland has gotten superb starting pitching lately, from all five members of their rotation including Sean Manaea. Especially Manaea, in fact, as he posted a 1.13 ERA in five June starts. But today the calendar flipped to July and that hot streak hit a bump, as the lefty never quite settled in against the Rangers.
Texas put the barrel on the ball pretty much every inning against Manaea, including a pair of sharp hits in the 1st for a run, and a solo homer in the 4th, and a two-run dinger in the 5th. That second long ball was off the bat of Joey Gallo, his fourth of the series.
- Manaea: 5 ip, 4 runs, 6 Ks, 1 BB, 2 HR, 9 hits, 94 pitches, 86.5 mph EV
He didn’t actually allow that much hard contact, but the handful of hard ones were destroyed and two of them cleared the fence so plenty of damage was done. It ranks as his third-worst outing of the season, which is almost a compliment since it wasn’t any kind of disaster start and he still finished five frames and limited the walks. Everyone has a bad day now and then.
After Manaea’s departure, the bullpen threw gas on the fire. Domingo Acevedo served up a homer for his second straight appearance, this time to a backup catcher. Deolis Guerra was tagged for a two-run blast, the second of the day for Nate Lowe. And Burch Smith kept the ball in the park but still allowed a run. That was all enough to put the game well out of reach.
No clutch hits
Meanwhile, the A’s lineup couldn’t figure anything out for the first seven innings. They tried everything they could think of to score except crossing the plate, and in fact they even tried that but the ump wiped it off the board and made him go back to third base.
In the 2nd inning, with runners on second and third and one out, the Rangers appeared to bounce a wild pitch to let lead runner Ramon Laureano score. However, it turned out the ball had hit batter Seth Brown’s foot and that’s why it had skipped away, so Laureano was called back out from the dugout and sent back to third, and Brown was awarded first base. The next two batters were retired and everybody was stranded, including Laureano.
Seth Brown shoulda played this one cool pic.twitter.com/kvzE0TZHjy— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) July 1, 2021
Brown has been struggling mightily, entering the day 5-for-51 (.098) since late-May, and while he didn’t do anything wrong here it still felt as exasperating as a negative-RBI. Even if Brown had astutely won an Oscar for acting like he hadn’t been pegged, the Rangers would have noticed and found a way to get this fixed; the umps didn’t even use replay to correct it, and they did make the right call. But, argh.
In Brown’s defense, here’s some nice defense about 10 minutes after that HBP.
Seth Brown gets down for this one pic.twitter.com/OfBrGbJ5ZF— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) July 1, 2021
In the 3rd inning, Oakland put their first two runners on base but then grounded into a double play. In the 4th they got a leadoff double but stranded him. In the 6th, their first two batters flew out to the warning track. Argh.
In the 8th they once again put their first two runners on base, and Frank Schwindel came up to pinch-hit against a lefty reliever. Frank The Tank launched almost exactly the monster dinger he hit last night in his debut, but on this cursed day it hooked just foul. Argh.
Frank Schwindel almost had a carbon copy of his dinger last night but it went foul this time pic.twitter.com/OKHNYH7HGp— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) July 1, 2021
Instead, Schwindel hit a comebacker to the mound, a tailor-made double play grounder. However, it turned out the A’s had been through enough torture for one day, so the pitcher threw the ball into center field and a run finally, mercifully, touched home plate. It was unearned, but this time it stayed on the board.
Frank Schwindel = Instant offense pic.twitter.com/vfMMAzPvlC— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) July 1, 2021
Next up was Chad Pinder, and Oakland finally got an honest highlight with a double down the line. The two runs made no difference in the result, but it’s still a nice way to finish up a bummer recap.
Pinder's double made it 8-2 pic.twitter.com/ns91yFlNFh— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) July 1, 2021
The A’s went 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position, with the one hit being Pinder’s. They left eight runners on base. But remember that entering the day they ranked sixth in MLB with a .267 average w/RISP, and second in the majors in sac flies, and they strike out less often in the clutch and also way less than league-average. They haven’t been finding those key hits lately, but overall it’s something they’ve been good at this year.
this bat broke hella much pic.twitter.com/fg4SkQQHlA— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) July 1, 2021
The wave taketh
The A’s just lost two out of three at home to the last-place team in their division. But the first-place Astros just got swept at home by an even worse last-place team from another division. It’s a long season, and nobody looks good the whole six months.
This too shall pass. Probably.
The 1-7 start easily still qualifies as the most frustrating portion of this A’s season.— Brodie Brazil (@BrodieNBCS) July 1, 2021
But this last little stretch of 12 games is undoubtedly runner-up.