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…

9-7

When the A’s run off a string of wins like they’re doing right now, I often wonder if the A’s are good or if the team they just played is bad. After taking two out of three at home from the Royals, they headed to the Bronx and swept the three-game series with the Yankees. We know the defending world champion Royals are good – they were 8-2 going into the weekend with the A’s – but what about the Yankees?

dt.common.streams.StreamServer.clsThe Yankees haven’t been the dominant force for a few years, but they still boast the A.L.’s highest payroll and every time you see guys like Jacoby Ellsbury and Mark Teixeira, you’re reminded of those big free agent contracts that are so very Yankees. But the fear just isn’t there like it used to be. And these Yankees seem to be modeling themselves after the Royals – dominant arms in the bullpen and timely hitting – but both of those factors failed the Yankees in this series.

Both teams’ bullpens were on full display in Tuesday night’s game, as Eric Surkamp and Michael Pineda dueled to a 2-2 tie through six innings. We got to see the Yankees’ best – Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller – mow down the A’s for a couple of innings, but the A’s followed suit and this one went to extras. I was watching as A’s fans opined on Twitter that the Yankees had the advantage in the battle of the bullpens, but it was the A’s that broke through in the 11th inning, as Mark Canha singled with a runner at third and two outs, and Ryan Madson picked up the save for another one-run win for the 2016 A’s.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Seattle MarinersWednesday night was another close game but the A’s were able to get the cushion they needed to avoid another battle of the bullpens. With the A’s already up 3-1 in the 8th, Khris Davis, who had been struggling to make his presence known in the lineup up until this point, finally came through with a big hit, singling with the bases loaded to drive in a pair. Carlos Beltran would add an inconsequential solo homer in the 8th off Ryan Dull, but the A’s cruised to the 5-2 win.

And Davis wasn’t satisfied with just a single on Thursday night. The A’s traded for him for his power and he finally got ahold of one, launching his first home run as an A over the center field wall at Yankee Stadium. Then immediately after Davis’ bomb, Coco Crisp crushed one to left to go back-to-back. Four A’s in all homered on Thursday, as Chris Coghlan and Canha also went deep and the A’s won 7-3, completing the sweep and putting the Yankees in the cellar in the A.L. East at 5-9.

So the Yankees’ plan of dominant bullpen (6.55 bullpen ERA this series) and timely hitting (4-for-22 with RISP this series) did not work out and the A’s have now reeled off five wins in a row and are 6-0 on the road. The Yankees may be struggling, but sweeping any team on the road is pretty tough, considering the A’s didn’t even have Sonny Gray and Chris Bassitt pitching in this series. We’ll see those two in Toronto, as the A’s head north of the border for a weekend series against a really scary offense. Let’s see if they can keep it going and pad that road record. Go A’s…

6-7

Coming into a three-game series against the defending World Series champion Royals, especially right after getting swept at home by the Angels, I wasn’t expecting much from the A’s this weekend. So I’m pretty surprised to be sitting here writing a blog post about how the A’s are 6-7 and not 5-8 or 4-9. But that’s just what I’m doing!

Friday’s game went about how I expect all games against the Royals to go. They jumped ahead early and then score just enough to hand the ball over to their lights out bullpen in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings. You better be ahead after six innings or it’s goodnight, Charlie. And it was that way for the A’s on Friday as they lost 4-2.

reddick480_dxg9tq6m_rm0t179fSaturday, however, the A’s were able to turn the tables, jumping ahead in the 1st inning thanks to a three-run homer by Josh Reddick. Untimely errors by Jed Lowrie at second base and a shaky 9th inning from Ryan Madson nearly cost the A’s this one, but the A’s hung on to win it 5-3.

Then came Sunday. This was a game that, early on, felt very much like the games in the Angels series. The Royals again scored early, taking a 2-0 lead after three innings, and the A’s offense just muddled along, hitting popup after popup and grounder after grounder, their bats looking incapable of doing anything resembling scoring runs. Scoring opportunities were wiped out by a Billy Butler double play and then a Butler strikeout looking. In fact the A’s first run came on a strikeout with a passed ball with a runner at third. I certainly expected the late inning Royals bullpen to nail this one down.

And that bullpen had their chance. The Royals had a 2-1 lead going into the 7th and after starter Kris Medlen allowed a ground rule double to Chris Coghlan, they handed the ball to that lights out bullpen. But Jed Lowrie, pinch hitting for Butler, singled to right field on Kelvin Herrera to tie the game up at 2-2. And the in the 8th, Billy Burns got to the Royals 8th inning man, Joakim Soria, leading off the inning with a triple and Reddick provided the sac fly to put the A’s up 3-2 and the A’s would hang on to win by that score after another Madson save.

Pretty impressive, all things considered. I don’t think this is a game that the 2015 A’s would have won. Maybe things are really different this year! These 2016 A’s are now 4-2 in one-run games.

Now the A’s head on their first long road trip of the year – 10 games against east coast teams. That’s good for me because that means the games are all on at a reasonable time for me to be able to watch them live, but I know teams don’t love long road trips like that. If the A’s can pull off 5-5, I will certainly take that. First stop – the Bronx and a three-game series with the Yankees. Go A’s…