Struggling A’s tumble into MLB basement


More seventh innings, more problems. That’s the A’s rendition of the 90s classic, but this record is stuck on repeat, and it’s not nearly as good as Biggie.

Oakland entered the seventh inning with the score tied at 2-2 but finished the frame needing to plate at least two runs in their next six outs. Again.

And they didn’t get them. Again.

Oakland lost to the Chicago White Sox Saturday night — again by a score of 4-3 — after starter Jesse Chavez pitched six pretty solid innings, including three strikeouts and two earned runs on eight hits and two walks.

The A’s only lead came after designated hitter Billy Butler homered to the deepest part of right field, scoring shortstop Marcus Semien.

With the score tied at two apiece, outfielder Adam Eaton bunted safely, and reliever Fernando Rodriguez tried to throw to first baseman Mark Canha, but instead threw the ball closer to the stands.

Eaton, a speedy player, made it to third on the error. Manager Bob Melvin described what happened next:

“It’s typically a play or two late in games. We have two out and nobody on. Bunt right back to the pitcher, all we gotta do is throw it to first and then the inning got away from us. That was probably the key in the game.”

Outfielder Melky Cabrera singled on the next at bat, scoring Eaton, and first baseman Jose Abreu followed suit with a hard double, which scored Cabrera.

Instead of Biggie, the A’s are playing more like Yanni — unless you’re into that sort of thing. The A’s scored two runs through the first seven innings — not nearly enough to win in the American League — and have been losing on defense like nobody’s business.

Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay

Oakland committed their 13th error in 13 games, and with 37 total, lead the league by a sizable margin. Milwaukee and Washington are tied for second with 30 errors, illustrating just how bad it’s been.

Rodriguez said:

“It just makes it easier for the hitters. … It seems to be (the seventh) inning is the one that goes against us.”

The A’s have also been allowing high numbers of baserunners — 16 on Saturday — and it’s surprising Oakland allowed only four runs.

The A’s fell to an MLB-worst 13-25 with the loss, and will need to win more than 62 percent of the remaining 124 games in order to reach 90 wins, about what they’ll need to reach the postseason.

They hold the worst record in baseball, and have the worst home record in franchise history since 1994, with only five home wins in 18 games.

Oakland’s error streak is also the worst since 1983, something the team doesn’t look primed to fix. Of course, the season isn’t over. They’re fighting to stay alive, and have a few guys coming back from injury with impact potential.

One is reliever Sean Doolittle, who can push Edward Mujica back into the seventh with Tyler Clippard the favorite for the eighth inning.

Starter A.J. Griffin could return in the next few weeks, filling a hole, and utility man Ben Zobrist is also nearing a return from the disabled list.

Doolittle should be the first to return, and will likely push Evan Scribner out of the bullpen and down to Triple-A.

The healthy talent should be a big boost to a team looking desperately for a win streak. And a clean final third.

Melvin has continually expressed his frustration, as have other key faces in the A’s clubhouse, but it’s been fruitless labor over the last few weeks.

Oakland has won only one of five games on the recent six-game homestand, and will face a pitcher very familiar to them Sunday.

Jeff Samardzija, for whom the A’s traded last July 4, will go against lefty Scott Kazmir. Samardzija was sent to Chicago in the offseason for shortstop Marcus Semien, arguably the most productive player on the A’s roster.

Semien is hitting .303 this season and is 7-for-17 over the last four games.

But the A’s have been reminded of Murphy’s Law more often than not, and can’t continue this way for much longer before they will be playing for pride only, especially in one-run games.

Melvin said:

“You expect to win more of them. We just haven’t.”

Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Athletics.

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