As impossible as it sounds, the Oakland Athletics (19-54) have lost two games in a row to the Philadelphia Phillies (37-34), four consecutive games in as many days, and all of that following an unpredictable and seemingly unattainable seven-game winning streak.
The A's lost a razor-thin, one-run matchup 3-2 to the visiting Phillies on Saturday in 12 innings. It took Philadelphia nearly three hours and a half to emerge victorious thanks to a ground-ball-scoring single by Kyle Schwarber that sent teammate (and former Athletic) Cristian Pache home in the final frame of the game.
The A's were the first team to flip a digit on the scoreboard, though, with Carlos Perez hitting a solo home run giving the club a 1-0 lead already into the fifth.
However, the Phillies fought back and made it all a tie quickly after that half-an-inning later in the top of the sixth when Trea Turner and Alec Bohm hit back-to-back singles for Bryson Stott to drive Turner in with two outs, knotting the score at one apiece.
Nothing else happened until we reached free-baseball time. Yes, it was more of a pitchers' duel than anything else, with the A's wasting ample opportunities to go up in the score but never truly capitalizing. So much so, that the numbers truly hurt.
Oakland hit just 1-of-19 on RISP situations. The Phillies weren't that much better, mind you, but they still went 2-of-12 on that front and ended up getting the W three extra periods into yesterday's affair.
The A's can really thank backup catcher Perez, actually, for keeping their collective head above water through the day: Perez hit three pitches, drove all (two) A's runs in, bagged a homer, and was the man putting Oakland both ahead in the fifth and tying the game in the bottom of the 11th.
Sadly, all other hitters donning white threads with green and gold accents couldn't hit a ball to save their lives.
Kudos go to Esteury Perez for stealing his 36th base this season and to JJ Bleday for getting his second theft of the year. That was a double-steal play, just in case, so at least one man would hit pay dirt. Turned out both reached a bag safely off the Cristopher Sanchez/J.T. Realmuto pairing.
Speaking of Sanchez, neither he nor James Kaprielian earned the win nor the loss as those tokens went the way of Andrew Vasquez (2-0) and Ken Waldichuk (1-5) respectively. The former allowed one hit and one run before giving way to Jeff Hoffman to clinch the save, his first this season.
Kaprielian had a nice outing, mind you, allowing five hits and one run through 5.1 innings pitched while striking out six batters and walking none at all. Sam Moll, Lucas Erceg, Sam Long, Trevor May, and Waldichuk followed Kap in successive relieving efforts after he left the game already into the sixth frame, and the five combined for 6.2 innings in which they allowed four hits, two runs, two walks, and a total six strikeouts.
The A's and the Phillies will face each other one last time this weekend on Sunday. Rookie Hogan Harris (2-0, 4.84 ERA) will start for Oakland unless Shintaro Fujinami takes on an opener role giving way to HH after the first inning, and Zack Wheeler (5-4, 3.73) is expected to take the mound first for Philadelphia.
Sunday's game will mark the final matchup between both franchises this season as the A's will try to at least snatch one game from Philly having lost back-to-back outings against them in the past two days.