Marcus Semien has rare distinction in explosive fifth inning

The Oakland A’s dormant offense woke up in the fifth inning on Monday, except for Marcus Semien.

On Monday, the Oakland A’s took out their frustrations on the Mariners pitching staff. After failing to score more than three runs in seven of their first nine games, they scored eight runs in the fifth inning, more than their total in any game to that point in 2020. With the 11-1 victory, the hope is that the A’s dormant offense has finally shaken off the rust and is ready to be the explosive unit they are expected to be.

At least, that inning could be a springboard for everyone except Marcus Semien. He twice came to the plate with the bases loaded, and both times was unable to deliver. In doing so, he became the first player since Jameson Taillon in 2017 to make two outs in the same inning in separate plate appearances with the bases loaded.

One can understand a pitcher coming up in those instances and making outs. With rare exceptions, the idea of a pitcher hitting is a bit of an oxymoron. For a position player, we have to go back just over 11 years to J.J. Hardy to find a position player who had the same level of futility.

Hardy, like Semien, was also coming off of a career year prior to his brush with infamy. His 115 OPS+ was the best of his career, as Hardy had emerged as a young power hitting shortstop with an excellent glove. At 26 years old heading into 2009, he appeared ready to emerge as a star for the Brewers.

Instead, his power and hitting had disappeared that season. After hitting 24 homers and 31 doubles in 2008, Hardy mustered only 11 homers and 16 doubles the following year. His 75 OPS+ was the worst of his career over a full season until his disastrous 2015 campaign. Those failures with the bases loaded on July 31 were symbolic of a lost season.

At this point, the A’s have to hope that is where the similarities end. Semien is also struggling after a career year, albeit under different circumstances. He had established himself as a roughly league average player before his breakthrough campaign in 2019, so even if he does not replicate last year’s success, there is enough of a track record to hope for some sort of rebound.

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The Oakland A’s bats came alive in the fifth inning last night, but for Marcus Semien, it was an inning to forget.