Ramon Laureano

A's can't explain disappearing offense as season again prematurely ends

A's can't explain disappearing offense as season again prematurely ends

OAKLAND -- All season long, the A's boasted one of the most powerful and productive offenses in all of baseball. Well, at least until the final week of the season.

Something strange happened a week and a half ago. Beginning last Sunday, Oakland's bats suddenly went silent.

In the final seven games of the regular season, the A's pushed across just 16 runs, an average of 2.3 per game, failing to surpass three runs in a single game.

Unfortunately, the offensive slump carried over into the Wild Card Game, where Oakland managed just one unearned run in its 5-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. After the game, the A's struggled to find an explanation for the sudden drought.

"Probably just bad timing," offered first baseman Matt Olson.

Suggested third baseman Matt Chapman: "I think just a coincidence."

Whatever the cause, it ended up costing the A's their season. Including the Wild Card Game, Oakland tallied just 17 runs in its last eight games, going 0 for its last 31 with runners in scoring position.

"It's just baseball," said outfielder Ramon Laureano. "We play 162 games. It's a roller-coaster. You're going to go up and down. It just happened that (in) the last week, we didn't score that many runs. It's that simple."

A's manager Bob Melvin rejected the idea that the team's sluggish finish to the regular season had any effect on Wednesday's performance, however.

"I think it's a clean slate," he said. "I don't think there's much carryover once you get to the postseason. They pitched really well. We got eight singles, couldn't do much with runners in scoring position. They did more damage on their hits than we did ours. I don't think anybody came into the game thinking about what we did offensively the last week of the season. We just couldn't string anything together."

Added Chapman: "Come playoff time, fresh stats, fresh attitude. Everybody was ready to go. I think we took good at-bats. It's just, they threw out some good arms. [Charlie] Morton started that game for a reason. They went out and got that guy because he's pitched in Game 7s. He's an ace. He knows what he's doing. When he had to make a pitch, he did, and he beat us."

The A's had their best chance in the very first inning when they were still down just 1-0. Oakland put two runners on base with one out, then loaded the bases with two outs. Jurickson Profar worked the count to 2-2 before flying out to right field to end the inning.

[RELATED: A's fan has best reaction to Rays homer in wild-card game]

"You know what, I felt like it was a successful first inning because we made (Morton) throw upwards of 30 pitches," Melvin said. "We made him work. He was walking some guys. Sometimes that kind of sets the tone for later on in the game, but he responded after that.

"We couldn't put together an inning like that where we had multiple guys on base. His back was (against) the wall and he made a big pitch to get out of the first and never got in a position like that again afterward."

So as the Rays move on to face Houston in the ALDS, the A's are once again left searching for answers as they prematurely head into the offseason.

A's outfielder Ramón Laureano eats pizza, fries ahead of wild-card game

A's outfielder Ramón Laureano eats pizza, fries ahead of wild-card game

Some very important information has come to our attention: A's outfielder Ramón Laureano puts jalapeños on his pizza. 

Hey, it could be worse -- it could be pineapple.

Laureano posted a photo of one of his recent meals Monday night in an Instagram story which was complete with a side of fries and a Red Bull.

The dinner of champions is the perfect way to kickoff the AL Wild Card Game. And if you've seen the way he makes catches in the outfield, you know he's not worried about the caloric intake.

The A's will host the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday for some postseason baseball and we can appreciate the carb loading. 

We know the Red Bulls always play a role in some of the A's success, but I think we can all agree no matter what the occasion, the answer is always "yes" when it comes to pizza. And ... it's the perfect food to pair with champagne.

See what I did there? 

[RELATED: A's offensive slump before playoffs of no concern]

Thank you for taking the time to read this as it was imperative knowledge.

A's vs. Angels lineups: Frankie Montas makes first start since suspension

montasusatsi.jpg
USATSI

A's vs. Angels lineups: Frankie Montas makes first start since suspension

Frankie Montas returns from his 80-game PED suspension Wednesday night, as the A's take on the Angels in a critical game in Anaheim.

Montas, 26, was having a career-year before his suspension, going 9-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 15 starts. The right-hander has been throwing simulated games every five days at the A's training complex in Arizona, throwing upwards of 100 pitches, but he hasn't pitched in a real game since June 20.

In order to make room for Montas on the 40-man roster, Oakland designated catcher Beau Taylor for assignment.

Left-hander Andrew Heaney will get the start for the Angels. The 28-year-old is 4-6 with a 5.10 ERA in 17 outings this season. In four September starts, Heaney is just 1-3 with a 9.31 ERA.

A's designated hitter Khris Davis is out with the stomach flu after launching his 23rd home run of the season in Tuesday's series opener. Jurickson Profar will serve as the DH and bat seventh in the order.

[RELATED: Khrush still slugging off lefties during his down season]

Ramón Laureano moves up to the second spot in the lineup and will handle right field, while Mark Canha starts in center and Chad Pinder in left.

Here are the full lineups for the A's-Angels game, which will be broadcast on NBC Sports California and the MyTeams app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. PT, with first pitch at 7:07.

Oakland A's (94-63)
SS Marcus Semien
RF Ramón Laureano
3B Matt Chapman
1B Matt Olson
CF Mark Canha
LF Chad Pinder
DH Jurickson Profar
2B Sheldon Neuse
C Josh Phegley

RHP Frankie Montas (9-2, 2.70 ERA)

Los Angeles Angels (71-86)
2B David Fletcher
CF Brian Goodwin
DH Albert Pujols
RF Kole Calhoun
SS Andrelton Simmons
1B Jared Walsh
LF Taylor Ward
3B Kaleb Cowart
C Anthony Bemboom

LHP Andrew Heaney (4-6, 5.10 ERA)