12 wins, 17 loses. 4 game AL West lead to a 6 game deficit.
That was the month of August for the Oakland A’s. They were the best in baseball for 4 months of the season and then all of a sudden, the bats went silent.
Not even a peep.
They traded away their clean up hitter Yoenis Cespedes to Boston for Jon Lester in a deadline blockbuster deal that was supposed to help the A’s. To be frank, it really hasn’t done much so far.
The Oakland offense has been awful; about as bad as you can get. In August, they hit an AL worst .224 and had the least amount of hits by a difference of 12 to the next best team. To go along with that, Oakland was shut out 4 times.
Oakland has lost one of their biggest producers on offense and I think this has hurt them more than it has helped.
This has not come out of nowhere by any stretch of the imagination. In the month of August, the defense was brutal, the offense was non existent, and the pitching was less than stellar.
Billy Beane, A’s GM, came to the conclusion that pitching was what the A’s were missing in the Postseason the past few years. To go up against the Tigers and beat them in a series, you definitely have to out pitch them. Beane addressed this need and it cost him and the ball club their middle of the order power bat. Only time will tell whether he made the right decision.
With Sonny Gray, Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel, Scott Kazmir, and Jesse Chavez as your 5-man rotation going into the playoffs, you should expect that that should be enough to finally get through the ALDS. It obviously wasn’t in the eyes of Billy Beane.
Adding Lester gives this rotation another boost and they now have a bonafide, experienced ace type pitcher in Jon Lester.
Getting swept by the Angels really didn’t help matters at all. They went into the series in Anaheim after winning 2 straight series vs. Houston and the Angels, but it just wasn’t their weekend. They were shut out twice, and went 26 straight innings scoreless as well. The pitching wasn’t terrible (except Kazmir), but the hitting and defense were absolutely awful and and that was too much to overcome.
Committing 5 errors in 4 games isn’t going to cut it when you’re in a playoff race against the best team in the league. Manager Bob Melvin called it ‘embarrassing.’
Back when the A’s were really playing like they are capable of playing, no one thought they were going to be stopped. Well, they have at least been slowing down.
I wouldn’t say they have totally collapsed by any stretch, but if September is anything like August, the A’s might be watching the playoffs from their couches.
After losing a home series to the Mariners, the A’s are still searching for answers. They have won only 1 of their past 7 games and just can’t seem to get everything to click at once. If this continues, more questions will be asked.
Injuries have also played a bit of a factor. Closer Sean Doolittle is on the 15 day DL along with shortstop Jed Lowrie (just returned) and Coco Crisp who is battling a neck issue. To try to boost the lineup, they acquired power hitting DH Adam Dunn from the White Sox, which seems like it can only help. Dunn ended up homering in his first AB against Seattle.
At this point, I would say, the Angels have a very strong hold on the AL West and barring a collapse, I see them finishing in the top spot. The A’s, if they don’t turn things around, could be in a fight for a wild card spot. They now only lead the Mariners in the Wild Card by 2.5 games.
In the end, Billy Beane might prove us all wrong by going with pitching. But at the moment, he may not be the most popular guy in the East Bay. As I see it now the A’s should still be in the playoffs, but if they don’t turn it around pretty soon, it might be a long, long month of September in Oakland. But, if the rest of September is anything like their play to start September, it might be a long month in O-Town.
Seattle sports fan and MLB writer for International Sports Hub