On Saturday night, the Oakland Athletics were officially eliminated from playoff contention with a 10-6 loss to the Houston Astros.
The A’s may have been realistically out of contention for the better part of the season, however, it wasn’t until last week that they were mathematically eliminated from the division. On Saturday, the same became true of the Wild Card race.
Oakland has certainly known for a while that they weren’t going to be playing beyond the final day of the regular season. At 64-85, their .430 winning percentage is the worst in the American League. Surprisingly, there are five teams in the National League – the Reds, Rockies, Brewers, Braves and Phillies – with a worse record. The Miami Marlins are also tied with the A’s at .430.
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The A’s looked like they might hang on to their all-but-impossible chance for one more day, as they had a 6-3 lead heading into the sixth inning, but Houston had other ideas. Colby Rasmus hit a leadoff double, scoring when Luis Valbuena singled. That was the end of the night for Sonny Gray, who has struggled heavily over his last two starts. Drew Pomeranz gave up a two-out RBI double, but escaped with the lead intact.
Fernando Rodriguez’s struggles persisted in the seventh inning, when he allowed a single to Carlos Correa and a two-out walk to Rasmus. Evan Gattis smashed a three-run home run to put Houston on top 8-6. A’s reliever Dan Otero pitched the eighth inning, allowing a lead-off solo home run and a pair of singles before allowing the ‘Stros to take a 10-6 lead with a sacrifice fly off of the bat of George Springer.
It was a rough night for the Athletics’ bullpen, which has seemed to do better as of late.
However, Oakland’s biggest concern should not be their persistent struggles in relief or even their mathematical elimination. The more important question is what, exactly, is wrong with Sonny Gray, and how should the A’s handle him going forward? The A’s might not be headed to October, but they do have two more weeks of the season left, and they will need to make a decision as to what risks they’re willing to take with Gray’s arm during the final starts of the season.