Still-sinking A’s shut out by Phillies

O.CO COLISEUM — Just when the A’s looked to be gaining some momentum, even against a bad team, the mood soured and Oakland’s playoff hopes grew dimmer.

The A’s (84-70) lost 3-0 to the visiting Phillies Saturday in a game that was almost as ugly as Philadelphia’s record (71-84).

Oakland starter Drew Pomeranz (ND, 1 H, 0 ER, 6 K) was masterful over five innings and looked about as good as he’s ever been. But the damage was done after he stepped off the mound.

Dan Otero (L, 8-2, 2.40 ERA) started the seventh inning, but allowed a home run to infielder Freddy Galvis, who is hitting only .161 on the season. Third baseman Cody Asche — who had doubled — scored also to make it 2-0 Philadelphia.


Photos by Godofredo Vasquez/SFBay

A’s skipper Bob Melvin summarized the A’s woes as of late:

“We’ve been struggling for a while. And this is a guy who we’ve had really good numbers off of. Most of our guys had really good numbers off of. Other than the first inning, we didn’t really get many opportunities where we could do some damage.”

The Phillies’ eighth inning pretty much summed up the afternoon — and Oakland’s second half of the season.

With nobody on base, 35-year-old second baseman Chase Utley doubled on a bloop hit to shallow right field. Doubled. The next Philadelphia batter went down swinging, but the inning wasn’t over.

37-year-old outfielder Marlon Byrd stepped up, singled, and knocked in Utley for the third run of the ball game. The A’s were beat by a team of old men, whose record was well under .500, not long after looking all but invincible.

Otero, who has been one of the most effective middle relievers in baseball this season, wasn’t happy. He threw a fastball inside to Galvis on the home run, but it tailed over the middle of the plate and didn’t carry the desired sink. Galvis took full advantage.

In June, a home run being allowed by an A’s reliever wouldn’t have been that big of a deal. The A’s were rolling over just about everyone, and in about every conceivable way.

But now, the tables are turned. When asked why, Melvin said he’s still trying to figure it all out:

“I don’t have an answer for that. The production across the board from everybody was better over the first four months or so and hasn’t been since. When you continually struggle, sometimes it affects your confidence. But it’s not an excuse. We should have confidence based on the amount of runs we scored earlier in the season. You look at right now, and we’re still third or fourth in the league in runs scored. And we’re in as deep of a drought as we’ve had. That’s the question, why is it so severe.”

The clubhouse is never gleeful after a loss. Not by a longshot. But the A’s clubhouse carried a tune that resembled a funeral much more than a team still battling for a playoff seed.

Oakland, despite the loss, is still in contention for a wild card spot. They’re still first up for it. And even though the slide continues to feel more treacherous, their season will likely come down to the last series.

And while Oakland’s starting rotation is laden with All-Stars, they’ll need to find an answer at the plate. Melvin said:

“When you start thinking about one pitch it means that you’re not doing enough offensively to help out on the other end. That’s what it’s been lately. It’s magnifying one or two pitches in the game because we’re not getting enough support.”

Oakland completes the weekend series with Philadelphia Saturday afternoon at 1:05 p.m., with the A’s Scott Kazmir (14-9, 3.44 ERA) scheduled to start against A.J. Burnett (8-17, 4.40 ERA).

Notes

The Oakland Athletics have lost seven of the last ten game and are now 12-26 dating back to August 10 when they had a four-game lead in the West with an 11-game lead in Wild Card and were a season-high 28 games over .500. … Josh Donaldson (0-for-4) is batting .200 (15-for-75) in September after hitting .313 in August. … Brandon Moss (0-for-3, strikeout) is batting .195 at home (43-for-221). … Derek Norris (0-for-3) was batting .303 at the conclusion of play on August 2 but is hitting .215 (31-for-144) in 41 games since then.


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