Is Pitching Enough to Pull Oakland Through?

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Sep 25, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher

Jason Hammel

(40) throws a pitch in the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Oakland Athletics pitching staff is one to be envied. They boast the American League’s second best ERA at 3.24 and shored up their starting rotation by trading for powerhouse pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jon Lester mid-season. While many fans have come around to the fact that these trades were good for the team from a statistical stand point, we are still left to wonder if it will be enough to get the A’s through the playoffs, that is if they make it there.

What’s definitely not enviable is the plight A’s pitchers have found themselves in as of late. Athletics starting pitching has had the toughest job in baseball throughout this second half of the season. This past week has been a case in point building. On Tuesday night, Sonny Gray had a career performance, striking out his most ever , 12, and the most for the A’s as a club since 2006. Sonny only gave up three hits in seven innings and one earned run. Another run scored due to an error, an all too common theme for the Oakland A’s these days. So despite such a solid start, Gray would take the loss with zero run support.

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Another sad example came in yesterday’s loss to the Texas Rangers. Jason Hammel had what A’s commentators called his best start of the season for the Athletics, yet he too had nothing to show for it. Hammel allowed only one run in his six commanding innings, striking out five and walking none. The A’s were only able to bring one runner home although they had many opportunities for more, leaving ten on base, another common theme in this dismal half of the season. The pressed bullpen gave up the winning run in the bottom of the ninth, giving Texas its first (and hopefully only) walk-off homerun of the season.

Such has been the tragic story for the once highly favored Oakland Athletics. Their pitching has still been top-notch but with little to no run support it is impossible to win, no matter how good the guy on the mound is. Yes, it is widely held that pitching wins games, but it seems the A’s are finding a way to prove that wrong.

We can only hope that a different ending is written for tonight’s game and Scott Kazmir can get the support he needs for a win and inch Oakland closer to its third consecutive post-season appearance.

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