After this weekend’s tough three-game sweep by the Kansas City Royals, some A’s fans may be thinking that Oakland will not be able to get back into the playoff race because they can’t compete with good teams. Yes, they were a bit exposed by an experienced group with the best record in the American League, taking advantage of every little mistake.
Game One: Ike Davis’ throwing error in the third inning cost Oakland two runs
Game Two: Unable to score with two runners on and no outs in the eighth inning
Game Three: Max Muncy overthrew Stephen Vogt on a play at the plate in the third inning, allowing a run to score and essentially giftwrapping two more.
While the mistakes in Game Two were more collective than the others, all three of these very may well have been the difference between a Green and Gold sweep instead of a Royal Blue one. However, just being a couple of plays away – three days in a row – to defeating the defending American League champions is also a sign that Oakland can hang with the best of them.
However the real problem, as the Athletics approach the end of June, is they just haven’t been able to hang with the worst of them.
Oakland is 5-14 against teams below .500, second worst in the majors. If you discount the recent 3-1 interleague series against the San Diego Padres, it gets even uglier. Here are the A’s head-to-head splits against the Boston Red Sox (35-43), Chicago White Sox (32-42), and Seattle Mariners (34-42):
|TEAM||W||L||RS||RA||WP (According to Baseball-Reference.com)|
These are the games that should make your heart sink, (especially the L’s to a Mariners team who Oakland has outscored) not the close losses to ‘top-tier’ ball clubs. In fact, the Athletics are 29-30 against teams over .500, which is above the MLB average and a better mark than 40-win squads such as the Pittsburg Pirates (13-17) or the Los Angeles Dodgers (8-19).
You may have also noticed that both of these playoff-caliber clubs haven’t played nearly as many games against .500+ teams as the green and gold have. Well, that’s because no one has – the closest team being the New York Yankees (30-26). This means the A’s schedule through the first half of the season was extremely frontloaded and thus, will likely normalize to lesser competition in the second half.
However, in order take advantage in the hopes of a late playoff push, Oakland MUST reverse their poor play against the bottom feeders.
It’s go hard or go home the rest of the way.