Look at the A's box score from Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners, and it would appear the third inning tells the whole story.
The Mariners scored all four of their runs that inning, and all four came with two outs. A's starter Cole Irvin retired Dylan Moore and Jake Bauers to begin the bottom of the inning before it all spiraled out of control. Irvin wound up walking one, hitting a batter and giving up four singles in the third inning.
"Not getting the third out, that's what happened," Irvin said after the loss. "Just didn't execute pitches when I needed to, made some really bad pitches early in counts to where guys could get barrels on it. They know how to do damage and score runners when they're in position score.
"Really just didn't have it in that third inning. It was embarrassing, it was uncompetitive. They got me."
Irvin just lasted four innings on the day. It was his shortest outing of the season, and the first time he hasn't pitched at least five innings since May 25.
No matter how hard Irvin is on himself, the A's did fight back after trailing 4-2 following that fourth inning. Seth Brown's solo shot in the seventh inning made it a one-run ballgame, and Brown looked to be in place to play hero in the ninth. That is, until a game-changing play at third base.
With one out in the top of the ninth inning, Matt Chapman was hit by a pitch, putting the tying run at first base. Three pitches later, Chapman took off on a Mitch Moreland single to Bauers in left. That would bring Brown up to the plate with runners at first and second and just one out, right?
Chapman tested Bauers and tried to make it to third base. He was thrown out, and replay confirmed it was the right call.
From the outside, it looked like the wrong decision from Chapman. His manager feels otherwise.
"We put ourselves in decent position there in the ninth. Mitch gets a big hit, and they make a great play from the outfield," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "The way we've been scoring runs lately, we've got to take a chance, we've got to get a guy to third with less than two outs and they made a big play."
From the moment Chapman rounded second base, Melvin didn't second-guess the third baseman's decision.
"When he left, when he went, I was fine with it," Melvin said. "I want him to try to get to third with less than two outs. Now you have a left-handed hitter up, a hole open over at first, got to make a decision where to make a play.
"It was an aggressive play, and we needed an aggressive play."
Unfortunately for the A's, it wound up being an aggressive out. Brown popped out for the third and final out soon after.
The A's lost three straight one-run games to the Mariners to end their four-game series. They now are 5.5 games back of the Houston Astros in the AL West and 1.5 games ahead of the Mariners for the second AL wild-card spot.
As they leave Seattle for San Diego, the A's were on the wrong side of a game of inches and split decisions. However, Melvin likes the mindset, and wants Oakland to continue putting pressure on the opponents as his squad looks to get out of this mini slide in the standings.