A real kick in the pants
You know that feeling after a tough defeat, that if you were to go on and miss the playoffs by one game then this would be the loss that made the difference? Oakland A’s fans won’t have that problem this year, because the team has thrown away so many winnable games that it would be impossible to single out just one to blame if they don’t reach October.
It happened again Saturday. The A’s took a lead in the 1st inning, stayed in control all afternoon, and then yadda yadda yadda they lost 6-5 to the San Francisco Giants at the Coliseum.
Oakland had this game in the bag. They scored in the 1st, 3rd, and 4th innings, each time by building a rally and then successfully cashing in on it. By the end of the 4th, they were leading 5-2 and had knocked out the opponent’s All-Star starting pitcher. You simply have to finish off that victory.
But the A’s own starter suddenly fell apart and couldn’t make it out of the 5th, and their lineup went quiet for five frames instead of building on their lead to put the game away, and then their bullpen served up three homers in the final three innings. When the dust settled it was a one-run loss. Two of the Giants’ runs were walks that immediately preceded homers.
Dating back to mid-June, Oakland is 6-14 in one-run games.
There wasn’t anything specifically damning about this loss. Bullpens blow saves sometimes, and overall the A’s pen has been average or better at holding leads. The lineup did a decent job getting on base and then hustling on the paths, and they notched a couple hits with runners in scoring position. Sean Manaea had a shaky start, but we already knew he was in a slump lately, and his velocity is still normal.
The frustrating part is how often this keeps happening during a tight postseason race, playing most of a good game but coming up just barely short. The extra agonizing part is having it happen in an emotional matchup against the local Bay Area rivals. And the truly deflating part is seeing it in a statement series against the team with MLB’s best record, where the A’s could have been showcasing their ability to beat the kind of top opponents they hope to see in October.
Everything is still fine. Oakland is still in or around Wild Card position, and within reach of the AL West division, and one loss today didn’t end any hopes or dreams. But at some point they’re gonna need to stop leaving so many opportunities on the table, and start turning more of their good days into actual victories. Do it tomorrow and they can still win the series.
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