13-16

Somehow the A’s are just three games under .500 at 13-16, as it feels like they should be 3-26. What started out has a promising homestand ended with a loud thud, capped by a demoralizing 9-8 loss to the Mariners on Wednesday afternoon. They got swept by the first place M’s and are now riding a four-game losing streak into another east coast road trip that begins tonight in Baltimore.

727x0The A’s had beaten Felix Hernandez already once this season, which is a rare feat in itself, but had a really great chance to do it again, knocking Seattle’s ace around for eight runs (four earned) in four innings pitched. They took an 8-4 lead into the 6th inning, but the bullpen that had been so steady the first couple weeks of the season decided to be shaky all on the same day, and they blew the lead to lose the game 9-8. They knocked Felix out of the game in the fifth inning and couldn’t manage to win it. That had to be the most frustrating loss of the season yet.

Houston+Astros+v+Oakland+Athletics+r_LegLRd5TmlThen things got even worse on the off day yesterday as it was announced that Chris Bassitt would need Tommy John surgery. We won’t see him until next season if even that. That sucks big time as Bassitt had a really nice start to the season. The A’s do have Jesse Hahn back in the bigs though, and he was dazzling in his 2016 debut, throwing 6 2/3 of shutout ball in the A’s win against the Astros on Saturday. It’s nice to have depth, as it often gets tested.

One other positive thing on the homestand was watching Yonder Alonso finally deliver a big hit in a big situation, as he hit a three-run walkoff home run on Friday night. He hadn’t provided much of anything offensively up until that point, but now is 5-for-19 (.263) with three runs scored in the past seven days, so maybe things are starting to look up for him. We have to hope so, because it’s really hard to win many games when your first baseman is slugging .250.

So another east coast trip begins tonight. The A’s will take on the Orioles this weekend, where they have the hottest hitter in baseball in Manny Machado waiting for them. It’s going to be a tough weekend, that’s for sure. Surprise me, A’s.

11-12

Road trips are hard, especially long, east coast road trips. So a 5-5 road trip really isn’t that bad. But it sure feels bad considering the A’s started the trip winning four in a row and then proceeded to go 1-5 the rest of the way, including dropping three out of four in the most recent four-game series in Detroit. And though the A’s usually have strong starting pitching, it was the starting pitching that mostly failed them in this series.

bassittFirst, on Monday, Kendall Graveman allowed six earned runs and 10 hits in just 4 2/3 innings pitched. Then on Wednesday, Sonny Gray had the shortest outing of his career, going just two innings and giving up four earned runs. Then on Thursday, Chris Bassitt gave us seven earned runs in 3 2/3 innings pitched. Rich Hill was the only starter to turn in a quality performance this series, as he had another stellar showing on Tuesday night with seven shutout innings and eight strikeouts. The veteran lefty saved the A’s from being swept out of Detroit.

Graveman and Gray’s outings are not worrisome, appear to just be blips on the radar, but Bassitt’s rough game – his second in a row – was apparently a sign of larger problems as the A’s placed him on the 15-day disabled list today with a strained elbow. That doesn’t sound good when we know what elbow issues can lead to. I hope that we see him back soon, but in the meantime, the A’s have reinforcements.

Sean_Manaea_d0k07v16_7wxpr5aoThe first of the reinforcements is the man we’re all excited about, top prospect Sean Manaea, who will get the start tonight against Houston, making his major league debut. Manaea looks to take the fifth starter job from the recently demoted Eric Surkamp. The 24-year-old lefty has a 1.50 ERA through three starts at Triple-A Nashville and is clearly ready for the bigs. It’s hard not to be overly optimistic about a big prospect, and I’m sure he’ll have his ups and downs, but I’m really looking forward to watching him pitch every fifth day.

We also got word that Jesse Hahn will be back up to start Saturday’s game. Hahn will effectively take Bassitt’s spot in the rotation, pushing Graveman, Hill, and Gray all back a day. A little extra rest is always nice when you can get it. And Hahn has been very solid in Nashville as well, posting a 2.04 ERA in four starts.

So the rotation gets revamped a little and the A’s are back home after a long road trip, ready to take on the surprisingly scuffling Houston Astros. The rest of the A.L. West is hovering around .500 while the Astros occupy the cellar at an A.L. worst 7-15. Hopefully they don’t find what they’ve been missing until after this weekend. The A’s, on the other hand, are just 3-7 at home, so something is going to give. Go A’s…

10-9

There is only so much a team can do against an offense like the Blue Jays have. Even with the A’s going into the series with one of the best pitching staffs in baseball (statistically speaking), it is hard to keep this team from scoring lots of runs, especially in the friendly confines of Rogers Centre. So even though the A’s winning streak was snapped and they lost a series this season, I’m glad they managed to at least get one game and still have a 4-2 record on the current road trip.

crop_exact_523309292Friday night’s game saw the A’s jump out to a 6-1 lead by the fifth inning, highlighted by a Chris Coghlan three-run HR, and they chased starter Aaron Sanchez after just 4 1/3 innings. Normally a 6-1 lead in the hands of Sonny Gray would feel pretty safe, but no lead is safe at Rogers Centre and against this offense. Sonny battled through seven innings, allowing three runs and six hits and striking out seven. By the time the A’s bullpen came into the game, it was 6-3, and, after Ryan Dull got the first two outs but then allowed a couple of baserunners, Sean Doolittle allowed a two-out single to Kevin Pillar that scored a pair and the lead it was a nail-biting 6-5 lead. These were the first two inherited runners that the A’s bullpen has allowed to score all season. That’s how good they’ve been. Doolittle did manage to get Ryan Goins to ground out to end the threat and go into the 9th with the lead still barely intact.

Jose+Bautista+Oakland+Athletics+v+Toronto+GuK_KAOb3rvlWe certainly did not want to go into the 9th with only a one-run lead, not with Josh Donaldson due up third in the inning and the other big boppers looming behind him. And Khris Davis apparently got the memo. Wanting to make sure we know he is definitely over his slump, Davis drove in a pair of runs with a 2-RBI single in the top of the 9th to give the A’s a little bit of breathing room. Ryan Madson pitched a 1-2-3 9th for the save and the A’s won 8-5.

Saturday and Sunday’s games both felt over early. Both starters – Chris Bassitt on Saturday and Eric Surkamp on Sunday – got pretty roughed up early, as Bassitt allowed six earned runs in five innings pitched and gave up two HR, while Surkamp got through just 4 2/3 with six earned runs allowed and also two HR. There was never much of a sense that the A’s could catch up to that kind of offense producing, and they didn’t.

So the A’s get out of Toronto, allowing 20 runs overall to the Blue Jays on the weekend, and managing to win one of the games. I guess I will take it. It’ll be nice to not have to see that lineup for awhile though. Next it’s off to Detroit to finish up the road trip with four games against our old 2012-13 playoff nemesis. Go A’s…