Athletics Week In Review: New Month, Same Problems

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I’m the irritating optimist who’s always sewing in silver linings. I speak of the full life a recently deceased person must have lived, I utter platitudes about lessons learned and ill winds blowing no good and all that other positivist nonsense. I can seemingly turn any awful situation on its head and find the one tiny bit of good in it. Frankly, I’m pretty surprised nobody’s punched me yet. I mention this because the Athletics recent run has been stretching even my interminable optimism. The Angels have a seven-game lead on the division and the Mariners and Tigers are only two and three games behind the Athletics in the wild card race. The A’s have only won two games in their last ten as the Angels have only lost two over the same stretch. It’s bad. How bad?

Actual thoughts that have crossed my mind this week:

"“Hey, maybe this a team that plays better from behind.”“Baseball is a beautiful game on its own merit, regardless of its outcome.”“At least this way I won’t have to decide between playoff games and rugby practice.”"

More from Oakland A's News

Something is clearly wrong with the Athletics right now. The exact cause is fodder for an analyst more talented than myself, but I’d bet it’s some combination of injuries, regression and the Angels/Mariners finally playing up to their potential. Billy pushed all-in and it looks like he might have busted. We can second guess any of his moves, but he seemed to add what he could where he could to make the team better. However, none of that matters for much if we’re twenty games away from another several years of heartbreak and obscurity. That said, there are still twenty games left and it ain’t over until it’s over…I’m too much of an optimist to give up hope just yet.

Seattle Mariners (Recaps: Game 1, Game 2, Game 3)

After being swept by the Angels in the previous series, the Athletics needed Monday night’s victory over the Mariners. They bounced Chris Young early, Jason Hammel pitched well and the A’s rolled to a 6-1 victory. However, on Tuesday, Sonny Gray struggled and gave up six runs over five innings. The Athletics bats rallied back in the last two innings, but came up one run short in the end as M’s closer Fernando Rodney gave up two runs while collecting his 40th save of the season.

Wednesday was the wild card play-in preview as Jon Lester faced off against King Felix. The two aces dueled brilliantly, pitching 8 innings each. The difference was in Lester surrendering back-to-back solo homers to Kyle Seager and Corey Hart to start the seventh, the only run the Athletics could muster against the King came on an Adam Dunn dinger in fourth inning. The A’s have now had five opportunities against Felix and have only managed to score more than two runs on him in just one of those games. In other news, Felix Hernandez is a pretty good pitcher.

Houston Astros (Recaps: Game 1, Game 2, Game 3)

What is it about the Astros? On Friday night, Chris Carter singled in a run and drove in two more on a sixth inning dinger. Combined with Jon Singleton‘s solo shot, the four runs given up by Jeff Samardzija were enough to outlast the Athletics 4-3. On Saturday, Jed Lowrie hit a walk-off single to complete a 3-run ninth inning comeback. However, during today’s game it was the ninth inning that unraveled everything for the Athletics, as Ryan Cook and Fernando Abad combined for five walks in the top of the final frame to give the Astros both the game and the series as the Athletics lost 4-3 yet again, losing again by a single run.

This week the Athletics hope to strike back with four games in Chicago against the White Sox and a weekend series in Seattle against the Mariners. Let’s hope it’s a better week than the last two and let’s go Oakland!

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