It’s July 1 now, and the 2015 Oakland Athletics have played 80 games in their 162-game regular season. With a mediocre 35-45 record that sadly doesn’t reflect the true abilities of this team, the A’s really need to put it behind them and start playing baseball like they know they can. Otherwise, in 30 days or so, many of these players are going to find themselves plying their professional trade elsewhere.
The A’s lost another one-run ball game at home last night, 2-1, mostly because they couldn’t score with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth inning—and because a relief pitcher let an extra run score for the Colorado Rockies with a wild pitch in the seventh inning. That scoring swing right there cost Oakland the game, and it’s been typical of why this talented team is just 6-20 in games decided by one run this year: They just can’t do the right thing in close games.
The clichés and excuses are getting old now, as the season reaches its halfway point with today’s matinee against the Rockies (34-43). The A’s are 1-4 on this home stand, with five games to go. They were doing very well last week, only to flounder again because of the same old problems. A season-best, five-game winning streak is now a memory as Oakland has won just one of its last five—losing two more one-run games in the process.
Basically, the A’s have pissed away half the season, and now they either need to put up or shut up. A Baseball-Reference.com metric says Oakland is the sixth-best team in baseball, based on its schedule strength and run differential. They should be 45-35, but they’ve had terrible “luck” in the form of dropping so many one-run ball games, which are basically coin tosses. When you only get 23% of your coin tosses right, however, instead of the expected 50%, then you’re unlucky.
However, luck is often the result of design, right? Something about preparation meeting opportunity? We know Manager Bob Melvin is good, but this team is failing him miserably with its continued failure to take advantage of opportunities in one-run games. Remember the 2012 Baltimore Orioles? They posted a ridiculous 29-9 record in one-run games to make the American League playoffs. That was luck working the other way for a team. The following season, the Orioles went a more pedestrian 20-31 in one-run games and missed the playoffs. Surprise.
Perhaps that’s what is happening to the A’s now: a correction of luck from 2012, 2013 and most of 2014. In winning two straight AL West division titles in 2012-13, Oakland posted a 55-38 mark in one-run games. Last year, the A’s fell to 21-28 in one-run games—including a disastrous 4-14 mark from August 9 on when the team went from 72-44 to 88-74 in the blink of an eye.
Let’s break this down: From the beginning of 2012 to August 9, 2014, Oakland posted a 72-52 mark in one-run games—good and hardly abnormally lucky. From August 9, 2014 to June 30, 2015, however, the A’s have reversed course entirely, posting a 10-34 mark in one-run games. That’s actually a huge over-correction of luck in the negative for Oakland, so maybe it’s time for good fortune to find its way back to Melvin’s clubhouse.
Today would be a good day to start, as the A’s find themselves 11 games out of first place in the AL West, 7.5 games out of the wild-card spot in the AL and a half game behind the Chicago White Sox for the worst record in the league. That’s just ridiculous for a team with the fourth-best run differential (+45) in the American League. Heck, the Seattle Mariners are -46 in run differential, but they’re 1.5 games ahead of the A’s in the standings. Go figure.
Jesse Hahn (5-6, 3.47 ERA) gets the ball for Oakland today, facing Colorado’s Chad Bettis (4-2, 3.56 ERA). Game time is 12:35 p.m., although the clock will strike midnight for this A’s roster very soon if they don’t start playing something called “good baseball” right away.