Athletics

Bob Melvin: Managing against Mike Scioscia made me 'get better'

Bob Melvin: Managing against Mike Scioscia made me 'get better'

ANAHEIM — A's manager Bob Melvin and Angels skipper Mike Scioscia have had dozens of battles over the years, but there is a deep underlying respect between the AL West rivals.

After Sunday's season finale, Scioscia held an emotional press conference announcing he would step down as manager of the Angels.

“I've had an incredible 19 years,” he told reporters. “It's been just awesome.”

Scioscia, 59, was the longest-tenured manager in Major League Baseball, joining the Angels in 2000 and leading them to their first-ever World Series title in 2002. Melvin has gone up against Scioscia since 2003 as manager of the Mariners, Diamondbacks and now the A's.

“I know from managing against him as long as I have, he's made me work hard and prepare harder, and I would say get better,” Melvin said. “When you manage against Mike Scioscia, you better be ready for just about anything.”

Scioscia went 1,650-1,428 in his 19 seasons with the Angels. But Melvin isn't convinced Scioscia is done managing.

“To me, he's one of those guys who I think would go to his grave managing,” Melvin said. “I can't imagine him not doing something somewhere else. He's terrific at it -- it seems like he loves it. He's into it every inning, every game, even in a spring training game. He's one of the elite managers in the league. I have a hard time believing this is going to be his last day managing.”

Scioscia said he was open to the possibility if it came along.

“I have a deep passion for this game," he said. "I love it. I love managing. But in this game, you never know if, where or when an opportunity comes. And I'm fine with that. If something comes and I get another chance, great. If not, believe me, I'm going to take the great experience I had here and just move forward with it. It's been terrific.”

A's starters are struggling vs. elite teams, and it could cost them

A's starters are struggling vs. elite teams, and it could cost them

Through all the injuries, suspensions, and question marks, the A's starting rotation has actually performed relatively well this season.

Oakland's starters have compiled a 4.17 ERA, 12th-best in the majors and sixth in the American League. Mike Fiers, Brett Anderson, and Chris Bassitt all own earned run averages under four, while Daniel Mengden's is under five.

Those numbers would suggest that the unit is, at the very least, serviceable. However, that hasn't been the case against the league's better teams.

Just look at Mengden and Homer Bailey's last two starts. Mengden limited the last-place Mariners to one run on four hits in seven innings last Tuesday. But in his next start, the first-place Twins knocked him around for four earned runs on six hits in just 3 1/3 innings.

Bailey's Oakland debut also came against the Mariners, and it went well. The right-hander allowed just two runs in six innings, earning the victory. On Monday night in Houston, however, Bailey surrendered nine runs in two innings.

For the season, Bailey is 4-1 with a 3.91 ERA when facing opponents under .500. Against teams that are .500 or better, he is just 4-6 with a 6.75 ERA. Mengden's numbers are similar. Against sub-.500 clubs, the right-hander is 3-0 with a sparkling 2.31 ERA. However, against winning squads, Mengden is 1-2 with a 6.67 ERA.

Bassitt has experienced the same type of success against losing teams, posting a 3.28 ERA. But against plus-.500 opponents, his ERA shoots up to 4.81.

Fiers and Anderson have been the exceptions in the A's rotation. Not surprisingly, they have been Oakland's only two consistent starters throughout the season, not including the suspended Frankie Montas.

Fiers is 4-2 with a 3.52 ERA against losing teams and 5-1 with a 3.74 ERA against winning squads. Anderson is 5-3 with a 3.88 ERA against sub-.500 opponents and 4-2 with a 3.77 ERA against plus-.500 clubs.

[RELATED: Houston makes statement with 11-1 win]

Over the next month, the A's will face an extremely challenging schedule. Including the current series against Houston, nine of Oakland's next 10 opponents currently own a record of .500 or better.

Fiers and Anderson have proven capable of succeeding against the league's best. Now it's Bassitt, Mengden, and Bailey's turn to step up against tougher competition.
 

Astros issue statement in rout vs. A's that AL West belongs to Houston

Astros issue statement in rout vs. A's that AL West belongs to Houston

Just five days ago, the A's pulled within 4 1/2 games of the Astros for first place in the AL West. All of a sudden, there were murmurs around the league of a legitimate pennant race out west.

Houston sure silenced those talks in a hurry. The Astros won their sixth game in a row Monday night, obliterating the A's, 11-1, to push their division lead back to 7 1/2 games.

This was more than just a victory. It was a statement. The Astros pulled out their megaphones and declared to the world that the AL West still runs through Houston, as it has the past two seasons.

Houston is now 8-1 against Oakland this season, with a run differential of 53-21. The A's have made plenty of strides the last two years, but clearly, they're not yet in the same class as the Astros.

The most glaring difference between the two clubs is obviously pitching. Despite losing Charlie Morton to free agency and Lance McCullers Jr. to injury, the Astros' starting rotation is far superior to Oakland's.

Houston features two legitimate aces in Justin Verlander and Monday's winning pitcher Gerrit Cole, as well as a strong number three starter in Wade Miley. The A's, on the other hand, have had to piece together a rotation which is comprised of too many inconsistent arms.

On Monday, Oakland's newest starter Homer Bailey got absolutely rocked, allowing nine runs in just two innings of work. That followed a subpar outing Sunday from Daniel Mengden, who only lasted 3 1/3 innings in Minnesota, giving up four runs.

Houston has multiple starters who can go out and win a game without much run support. The A's have to rely solely on their offense in many cases, simply asking their starters to keep them close.

[RELATED: Report: A's have inquired on trades for Stroman, Minor]

The Astros' bullpen has also been more effective than Oakland's this year, with Ryan Pressly, Will Harris, and Roberto Osuna all maintaining ERAs under 2.40. As good as Liam Hendriks has been for the A's this season, he and Yusmeiro Petit have really been the only reliable relievers in Oakland's bullpen. With Blake Treinen, Lou Trivino, and Joakim Soria all having down-years, the A's pen has not been the strength they expected it to be.

Despite the A's mammoth struggles against the Astros this season, they still find themselves in great position to earn a wild-card bid for the second straight year. That's where the focus should be right now. Forget about the division -- that belongs to Houston.