BY RYAN LEONG
The 2017 Oakland Athletics are not a playoff team.
If you like home runs, they’ll provide plenty of offense. Unfortunately they don’t offer much in the way of pitching and are terrible defensively.
Wednesday’s homestand finale provided a sample of what the team offers. They got a home run from Trevor Plouffe but lost 7-5 to the Toronto Blue Jays because hard throwing Frankie Montas coughed up two home runs in the 10th inning. He gave up a tie-breaking two run shot to former Athletic Josh Donaldson followed by another blast from Justin Smoak.
“He left some balls up in the middle of the zone,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of Montas after the loss. “The second one (to Smoak) was a breaking ball, he may have just sped him up with two strikes. He’s got a good fastball, he’s proud of his heater but when you get it in the middle of the plate at the big league level against some good hitters they’re going to turn it around as you saw.”
The A’s record when hitting a home run is 24-23 which is an indication that they’re not doing enough to hold leads.
While they did win the first two against the Blue Jays but couldn’t get the three game sweep, the biggest disappointment of the home stand had to be on Sunday. A 1-0 game after five innings against the Nationals ended as an 11-10 slugfest. Oakland pitching allowed three runs in the sixth and eighth and a staggering five runs in the top of the ninth. The Nationals have one of the best offenses in baseball but giving up 11 runs in three innings is simply not going to win you games.
The A’s have still done well at home at 19-12 but are terrible on the road. Their 8-20 away record is the worst in baseball. Thankfully they didn’t commit an error on Wednesday but they’ve still recorded 59 miscues in 59 games.
Andrew Triggs and Sean Manaea share the team lead with five wins apiece. Unfortunately the rest of the staff has a losing or .500 record but Jesse Hahn and Kendall Graveman are also sporting sub 4.00 ERA’s which is a good sign.
Even with a new team president, the A’s aren’t able to draw more at the gate. They’re averaging 17,000 fans a game through their first 31 dates. Even big name teams like the Red Sox couldn’t draw 25,000 for home attendance.
The A’s head back out on the road for a five game Florida road trip beginning with a weekend series at Tampa Bay on Friday followed by a two-game interleague series vs. the Marlins in Miami on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Triggs (5-5, 3.36) gets the ball in the series opener vs. Tampa Bay’s Alex Cobb (4-5, 4.52).
Ryan Leong is a San Francisco native and covers all Bay Area sports teams as a correspondent for ESPN radio and wire services. He is a former sports anchor for KCBS and has reported on over 3,600 live games since 1998.