Athletics

A's starters showing true colors, getting lit up away from Coliseum

A's starters showing true colors, getting lit up away from Coliseum

It seems like just yesterday the A's starting rotation was mowing down hitters left and right.

On their season-opening eight-game homestand, Oakland's starters allowed just six earned runs in 46 2/3 innings for a sparkling 1.16 ERA.

That stellar pitching has not carried onto the road, where A's starters have allowed 19 earned runs in just 15 2/3 innings over the last four games. That translates to an ERA of 10.91.

Add in the A's two games in Tokyo to start the season and Oakland starters have allowed 27 earned runs in 23 2/3 innings away from the Coliseum, an ERA of 10.27.

"Sometimes these trips can get to you," Marco Estrada told reporters. "We've been facing tough teams. The Astros came out swinging. So did we. They ended up winning all the games out there. These things are going to happen. I think tomorrow we'll be just fine. We'll get things going again. We'll get on a roll and hopefully start a long winning streak."

A's manager Bob Melvin isn't concerned about the early road struggles: "I don't think these guys worry about playing on the road too much. We had some success last year ... These guys aren't afraid to play on the road."

Estrada was the latest A's starter to struggle, allowing six earned runs in just four innings Monday night in a 12-4 loss to the Orioles.

"I just wasn't making pitches," Estrada said. "They were aggressive and wasting the good pitches I made. The bad ones, they hit, and they hit them hard."

"They just got on him early," Melvin added. "They didn't let him settle in. There were some deep pitch at-bats from the beginning of the game. They just made him work really hard and throw a lot of pitches. He ended up throwing close to 100 pitches when he came out."

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It appears the Coliseum may have masked some of the pitching issues many feared the A's might have. Deep fly ball outs in Oakland turn into home runs in places like Houston and Baltimore.

During this four-game losing streak, A's starters have surrendered six home runs, after allowing just three during the previous eight-game homestand. But the players remain confident they will turn things around.

"This team is really good," Estrada said. "We're going to score a lot of runs. We're going to pitch well. We just have to put it together and hopefully it starts tomorrow."

Bob Melvin supports Buster Posey's decision to opt out of 2020 season

Bob Melvin supports Buster Posey's decision to opt out of 2020 season

Buster Posey took several days of Giants training camp to deal with what was termed a personal issue. It turns out he spent that time weighing whether to play baseball this season during an ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Posey announced Friday that he would opt out and explained exactly why. Turns out he has a damn good reason.

His family adopted two twin girls born July 3 at just 32 weeks. They are in the NICU now and Posey said they will be in a particularly vulnerable state for at least four months. That’s more than the entire 2020 MLB season, even if everything goes right.

Posey made an easy decision, the right one.

That’s clear to most, including A’s manager Bob Melvin.

“In his case, I don’t know why you would want to play with what’s going on there,” Melvin said in a Friday video conference. “Each guy looks at it a little differently, so I’m not surprised that some have opted out. I’m certainly not surprised about Buster, now knowing the whole story.”

While most are supportive of easy choices like Posey’s or the less straightforward, detractors have proven vocal even in a decided minority.

A’s relief pitcher Jake Diekman has a higher risk for complications if he contracts COVID-19 due to a pre-existing condition but chose to play the season. The team is cognizant of that while strictly adhering to health and safety protocols during training camp.

[RELATED: Zaidi, Kapler support Posey's decision]

Whether someone chooses to play or not, Melvin says, that player will receive backing from around the sport.

“Whoever decides to opt out will be fully supported,” Melvin said. “There’s a lot at stake right now. It’s easy once you’re out on the field and it feels great again and everyone likes playing, but the underlying factor and issues are still there. If there’s somebody who has reservations, whether it’s Jake, who says he doesn’t have any, will be fully supported and I don’t think they’ll be criticized by the baseball community.”

A's Matt Chapman adjusts personal goals in shortened 2020 MLB season

A's Matt Chapman adjusts personal goals in shortened 2020 MLB season

Matt Chapman’s always one to raise the bar. His personal and team goals continue to elevate, even after the A’s won 97 games, he hit 36 home runs and added another platinum glove.

Those achievements are awesome in a vacuum, though losing in the A.L. wild-card game (again) and a late-season offensive slump shows room for improvement for the stacked A’s and their All-Star third baseman.

Putting it all together could mean a World Series title and an MVP award, or an offensive season for the ages at the very least.

That last part, of course, assumes a 162-game season. Numbers don’t mean the same thing in a 60-game season. Chapman, therefore, has to look at his stat line differently.

“The main goal is to stay healthy, stay on the field and then just take good at bats and do my part,” Chapman said. “I’m not going to put too much stress on the season because two months is such a small sample size. If you don’t start well, your numbers are never going to be what you want them to be. I’m hopefully not going to dig into that too much. I know that’s easy to say now, but I want to focus on the team and keep guys healthy. Hopefully we can do that and just win. Our focus should be health and making the playoffs.”

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Collectively, the A’s are focusing on winning as many games as possible in a condensed season where every game is magnified.

“I think that, from a team standpoint, the goals are still the same: win as much as we can and stress getting off to a good start,” Chapman said. “That’s extremely important now. That was our focus coming out of the spring training beforehand, but that especially key now. You can win and lose a season in two weeks it seems like, in this short schedule. You can’t fall too far behind. On the other side of it, you could also jump out to a good lead. It’s exciting because it seems like every game is going to be a playoff game.”

Chapman doesn’t have much time to ramp for this condensed 60-game season, which is now two weeks away. He has voiced displeasure over the A’s inability to start workouts at the earliest possible date, but is now focused on maximizing opportunities he has. That doesn’t mean he’s working too hard, as he and the A’s position players might have when they were finally allowed to start camp.

[RELATED: Why Chapman could win AL MVP]

It’s about working smarter in the time allotted.

“The biggest thing for me is getting quality reps and not worrying about the quantity so much and trying to play catch-up,” Chapman said. “I don’t need a million swings to get ready. I need quality swings and to avoid tiring yourself out because, when it does start, it’ll be a sprint. You can’t jam a ton into every day. We have to be smart and, right around that two-week mark [of camp], we’ll be in a good spot.”