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A’s stumble toward postseason grave after four-game Seattle sweep

The A’s entered their crucial home series against Seattle on a five-game win streak with a two-game lead over the Mariners (84-69) in the AL Wild Card. But after four straight losses, including a disheartening 6-5 defeat Thursday afternoon, the A’s (82-71) find themselves on the mathematical brink of elimination from postseason play.

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The A’s are 4-12 against Seattle in 2021, and have lost not just the season series, but also just about any chance at playing in October. With nine games remaining, Oakland stands four games out of the Wild Card with both Toronto and Seattle above them.

Chris Bassitt made his first start in five weeks since taking a 100-mph line drive to the head in Chicago Aug. 17. Bassitt looked like he never left, despite being on a tight leash of just 45 pitches. After a J.P. Crawford single and a walk to open the game, Bassitt retired nine straight in 48 pitches. Bassitt seems likely to make two more starts in the final nine games of the season.

Bob Melvin said he though Bassitt sparked the team and the energy in the dugout was different. But he knows his team fell short, and addressed the team’s drop in the standings:

“To try to turn back a team that went from two down to start the series to two above us now and some other teams to pass so it was an important game for us, we just couldn’t finish it off … It was the middle innings today that hurt us. Just couldn’t put enough across, when you give up six, you score five you end up getting beat. Unfortunately that was the case.”

Bassitt said Oakland is far behind the eight ball in the standings, and he doesn’t know what the plan for the rest of the season will be:

“Obviously the last month has been terrible for us but it is what it is. I am proud to be an Oakland A, I am proud of this group even though we have absolutely sucked this month. It is what it is. We haven’t done a good enough job to win games but I am still happy as hell to be a part of this group.”

Melvin said this series was very disappointing:

“Four game sweeps are tough to do, we are at home too and we have a lot to play for. They got big hits when they had too and when a team that doesn’t score a ton of runs and you think when you score five you have a chance to win this game today and they got some big hits out of some guys that aren’t in the middle of their order, too.”

The A’s scored early but their bullpen once again let them down. Matt Chapman drew a leadoff walk in the second then Sean Murphy singled to put runners on the corners. Elvis Andrus sacrificed home the A’s first run when he lined out to center to give the A’s a 1-0 lead.

Seattle starter Yusei Kikuchi allowed three runs on three hits in his three innings. Matt Olson walked and scored from first when Yan Gomes doubled over Jarred Kelenic’s head in straight center to make it 2-0. Mark Canha followed with a line drive to diving Fraley in left field but the ball dropped and the A’s had an early 3-0 lead.

Yohan Ramirez relieved Kikuchi and could only record one out after Sean Murphy swung at Ramirez’s first pitch of the day and made it a solo shot (27) to right to extend the lead to 4-1. Anthony Misieqicz relieved Ramirez and struck out two straight to end the fourth inning.

The Mariners didn’t get on the board until James Kaprielian hit Kyle Seager with a 94-mph fastball to lead off the fourth. Two strikeouts followed, but Toro doubled on a line drive down the first base line to make it 4-1.

The Mariners added two more runs off Kaprielian when a single and Cal Raleigh two-run homer (2) closed the gap. The Mariners trailed 4-3 with no outs but Kaprielian was able to retire the next three batters.

Jake Diekman (L, 3-3, 3.84 ERA) gave up a solo homer to Mitch Haniger to lead off the sixth and tie it 4-4. Diekman walked Kelenic and picked up a strikeout for the first out of the inning but when Luis Torrens pinch hit for Fraley, he hit a two-run homer to give the Mariners a 6-4 lead.

Melvin said he didn’t think the pitch to Torrens was a bad pitch:

“He [Diekman] has been pitching great up to this point and obviously two long balls got him right there.”

Andrew Chafin and Lou Trivino pitched an inning each and kept the game at 6-4 but not even a solo homer from Olson in the bottom of the ninth with two outs could spark a walkoff win. Paul Sewald picked up a save despite the one hit-one homer ninth and the A’s fell short 6-5.

Series Wrap

Monday – Mariners 4, A’s 2: LHP Tyler Anderson faced the A’s for the first time of 2021 and his weird windup stumped the Oakalnd lineup for seven full innings. Back-to-back doubles from Chad Pinder and Khris Davis gave the A’s one of their two runs. Anderson allowed just one run on four hits, struck out seven and walked a single batter. Both bullpens kept batters quiet but Anderson picked up the win.

Tuesday – Mariners 5, A’s 2: Matt Olson hit a two-out, full count solo blast (37) to right field to put the A’s up 1-0 in the first. Starling Marte lead off the fourth with a solo homer (7) to give the A’s their second and final run of the evening. The Mariners scored three earned runs in the fourth and put an end to Paul Blackburn’s night after he allowed a leadoff triple which was originally called out at third but after review was ruled safe. It looked like another 4-2 loss until Sergio Romo pitched the ninth and gave up a solo blast to Crawford to end it it 5-2.

Wednesday: Mariners 4, A’s 1: Cole Irvin allowed three runs on seven hits and two of them were homers. Guerra allowed the Mariners fourth run of the night and the A’s could only pick up a Matt Chapman solo homer (27) for their one and only run. Chris Flexen threw seven innings of one run baseball.

Up Next

The A’s play their final three home games of 2021 starting Friday, hosting the Houston Astros in a three-game series. Frankie Montas is expected to make the start for fireworks night on Friday, with first pitch set for 6:40 p.m.

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