Athletics

A's in midst of historically bad stretch to begin season

Athletics
A's Frankie Montas

You’re right in thinking the A’s start to the season is bad. It’s historically bad.

First came an “ugly” and “embarrassing” four-game sweep from the divisional rival Houston Astros. Then came Monday night’s 10-3 drubbing from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The A’s are 0-5 and reeling to start the 2021 season, with their stretch of poor performances putting them in some rare company.

If you’re wondering, the 1995 White Sox finished 68-76 in a strike-shortened season, while the 1974 Padres went 60-72.

Not saying the 2021 A’s will do that, but it’s an ominous start, for sure. In all, Oakland has been outscored 45-12 in the five losses to begin the campaign. 

Sure the pitching is bad, but 2.4 runs per game and spotty defense won’t win you many ballgames, either.

“We haven’t done anything well,” Melvin told reporters in a postgame video conference. “... It seems like everything that could go wrong, has at this point.”

One turn through Oakland’s rotation and the pitching staff is sporting an 8.60 ERA, which is second-worst in baseball. The starters (9.82 ERA) have fared worse than the relievers (7.43 ERA) and no starting pitcher has gone more than Chris Bassitt’s 5 1/3 innings in the opener.

On Monday, Montas only last 2 2/3 innings, giving up seven earned runs on seven hits and three walks with four strikeouts. Montas was affected by a fingernail tear in his final two Cactus League starts but said he felt no ill effects Monday, saying the Dodgers did most of their damage on his breaking balls. 

 

“Finger was good, arm was good, my [velocity] was there,” Montas said after throwing 90 pitches. “Like I said, they were piling up a lot of fastballs and making me throw a lot of pitches.”

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Things could have been even worse if A.J. Puk didn’t come in and stop the bleeding. The A’s top pitching prospect was called up before the game and tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings in his 2021 debut.

With the losing streak and the injuries, it has been a nightmare first week for the A’s.

“Of course we’re a little down,” Montas said. “We’ve lost five games in a row. We’re a little down but we know we’re a good team. It’s just a little funk. As soon as we get out of this, we’ll be rolling.”

What they need Tuesday is a massive performance from Bassitt, their ace, in his matchup against Clayton Kershaw. He needs to be a stopper for momentum’s sake and also protect the bullpen that has been taxed this season and is playing musical chairs without closer Trevor Rosenthal to anchor the ninth and solidify everyone’s roles.

The offensive struggles are another story, but it’s hard to beat any team when you’re giving up at least eight runs every night.