The Oakland A’s have now lost 10 straight games to the Mariners and have heartbreakingly lost control of the AL West for good (even with the Houston sweep). The tension between Cole Irvin and literally the entire Mariner’s clubhouse is clear, but Irvin’s shoddy performance giving up isn’t where all the blame should go.
The Athletics now sit 3.5 games behind in the Wild Card.
There’s some analysis that needs to be done, but not just to figure out why the Mariners have clobbered the A’s all season. But why have they boomeranged between powerhouse and silence since early September (and why this has flown under the radar)?
I remember gearing up for another AL West title for 2021.
Does good pitching beat good hitting?
I feel like this is something your grandpa might mutter at the TV when he’s angry about his team. But, I have to admit that for the Athletics, this is true. Just look at this first game in the series against Seattle with Irvin giving up 5 runs in just over 3 innings.
While his stats against Seattle are abysmal (the highest ERA against the Mariners), his overall season performance has been mediocre at best. Since coming to Oakland, he’s 10-15, an ERA of 4.18, and a WAR just over 1. It’s not just the Mariners getting to him.
And let’s not forget about the consistent implosion of relief since August. In the first game of this series with Seattle, Guerra inherited a few runs but gave up a massive 3-run HR to Haniger. Kaprielian stopped the bleeding for the rest of the inning, he also saw another huge Haniger HR in the 6th.
Looking at the last few weeks, the A’s have seen over 10 blown saves against teams that never even had postseason hopes. Leads of all kinds are being lost – whether it’s 1 run or 6 runs. And when you have to plug in key starters for relief, something needs to change.
Where is the Oakland A’s hitting?
Hitting has slowed down too. The Mariners scored 13 unanswered runs, indicative of A’s silent bats in general. In the last series against the Mariners – when the A’s got swept – they scored a total of 8 runs against Seattle’s 15.
And the series against Houston? They only won by more than one run in the first game with a flukey 14-2 victory.
Just look at Matt Chapman with his 199 strikeouts to break the Athletics single-season record. Even if you believe the strikeout rate of a power hitter doesn’t show a lack of hitting, it’s indicative that there is no spark.
Where is the early season spark?
We were all hopeful at the beginning of the season, but too many pieces began to crumble at a very crucial time – the September push. If they drop this series with Seattle and miss the postseason, there are going to be serious considerations into the offseason. It’s clearly not just a Mariners problem.