Three errors led to three unearned runs, as Sonny Gray took the loss for the Oakland Athletics tonight in Baltimore. The A’s lost, 4-2, to finish a seven-game road trip with an 0-7 record—their longest of the season. Five of the losses were by one or two runs, continuing the laughable pattern this team established earlier in the season: an inability to win close games because of a bad bullpen and bad defense.
The fielding hadn’t been in the spotlight lately, however, so it was ugly to see errors by first baseman Mark Canha, second baseman Eric Sogard and shortstop Marcus Semien contribute to three freebies for the Orioles. Gray tossed 97 pitches in less than six innings, striking out five. But he gave up seven hits and two walks, pitching much longer than he had to due to the defensive miscues behind him.
Offensively, Oakland received solo home runs from Canha and Danny Valencia, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the ugly fielding problems. On a positive note, three relievers—Drew Pomeranz, Evan Scribner and Pat Venditte—tossed 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief to keep the Orioles in check. But the defense—already having committed 96 errors coming into the game—let everyone down this time.
With a 51-69 record, the A’s keep sinking deeper into the American League West basement. The season is lost, and observers have to wonder if the team has just given up, in general. Playing two AL playoff-contending squads from the AL East didn’t help on this road trip, either, but Oakland isn’t that bad of a team despite its record and terrible play at times.
Meanwhile, Gray’s only start on the road trip actually lowered his AL-best ERA to 2.04 on the season, while his won-loss record dropped to 12-5. He has a significant edge on every other AL starter in ERA, WHIP and WAR right now, and Gray has thrown enough innings to qualify for the ERA title (167 1/3 so far). Could the Cy Young Award be in his future, despite the A’s atrocious record? Of course, in this day and age when advanced statistics have seen the award go to starters on mediocre teams (see Tim Lincecum, 2008, and Felix Hernandez, 2010).
That’s a conversation for another day, however. Right now, the A’s need to figure out how to right the ship as they head home for a short five-game home stand against the Los Angeles Dodgers (two games) and the Tampa Bay Rays (three games). They get a day off Thursday in between. After the weekend series against the Rays, Oakland heads to Seattle and Arizona for three games each.