The Heartbreak Continues: A’s Shutout by Phillies

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Fans haven’t given up on the A’s but it seems like the players have. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

A new tradition has started around the A’s since mid-August. After each victory, A’s reporters, fans and radio hosts spend a great deal of time talking about how that night’s win was a turn-around win and how it was finally time for the A’s to salvage what was left of their season. After each of those discussions, the A’s lose.

Following yesterday’s victory Swingin’ A’s’ own Jason Burke talked about what he liked from the game, countless people called in to the radio post game, and Shooty and Brodie talked about how badly the boys needed this win. In keeping with tradition, the A’s lost today. Today wasn’t a clever loss, as many have been, but another heartbreaking loss. The A’s were shutout for the fifth time since August 1, beating their four shutouts from the four months prior, and again had bases loaded with no runs to show for it.

Drew Pomeranz pitched a solid 5 innings after having a rough, but scoreless, first with no runs, one hit and six strike outs. Pitching outings like that aren’t rare for the A’s and in the first four months of the season were an all but guaranteed win. The only men to hit today were Josh Reddick, twice with singles, Jed Lowrie and Adam Dunn. With bases loaded in the second inning and with one out on the board, Derek Norris swung at ball four (or ball five depending on who you ask) and grounded into an inning ending double play.

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Never, in the history of baseball, has the best strategy for a team been to load up the bases with one or fewer outs but it seems, in the case of the A’s, that that’s the best way to get out of an inning. In the past month, the A’s have loaded the bases 18 times a game, it seems, and have nothing to show for it. Over the course of the season, A’s batters have ground into double plays 10% of the times when it was possible. Having the platoon advantage for 72% of their at-bats, they should be the last team to have a 10% GIDP rate, 15% rate of bringing runners home, and a 21% pinch hit success rate.

The A’s are simply playing abysmal baseball. By the way, if those numbers above look pretty good to you, consider that it includes the first four months when the A’s were scoring machines. It has truly become a joke among fans and commentators and if the A’s want any chance at success in the post season, or even getting there for that matter, they need to find a way to bring in some of those runners.

Going in to this game the Phillies were 70-84 having lost 23 games since August 1, compared to Oakland’s 28. This, like the Rangers series prior, was supposed to be a cake-walk, run ’em out of town series that the A’s would use to secure their spot at the top of the division. Then, when that dream died, it was the series that was going to secure their wildcard spot. They were swept in the first one and are playing a rubber match for tomorrow’s game. With three against the Angels and four against the Rangers, who clearly want us out of the post season, do the A’s have what it takes to maintain what little chance they have left? The hard answer to give is that they may not.

Don’t get me wrong. I want them to win. I don’t want my post season tickets to go unused. But I just don’t see a scenario where the A’s, playing as they have for the past six weeks, can remain in the hunt and I really can’t see a scenario, short of every starting pitcher for every other team going down with Tommy John surgery tomorrow, where the A’s can be competitive in the post season if they are lucky enough to make it in.

At this point, the A’s need luck. Through this slide they have held on to post season relevance solely on the strength of their first four months. Had they been a .545 team in the first four months, they’d be hanging out with the Astros at this point, sub .500 and wondering why they didn’t bring up Daric Barton sooner. I want this team to win but they have only had a 2 game streak five times (one of those was a three game streak) since July 9. If you want to win in the post, you need to get 3 of 5 or 4 of 7 and that’s hard to do when the your wins are, on average, 2.4 days apart from each other.

Let’s go Oakland! Seriously, LET’S GO!!!

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