The Oakland Athletics don’t have the offensive firepower (yet?) to really dominate competition in 2016, so if the pitching staff isn’t at its best, it’s hard for the A’s to win. That was clearly evident over the weekend in Toronto, as Oakland gave up 15 runs on Saturday and Sunday to the Blue Jays, losing a six-game win streak in the process. However, the team remains tied atop the American League West Division with the Texas Rangers, both squads with identical 10-9 records.
On Friday night, the A’s got that sixth-straight victory—longer than any successful stretch of the 2015 season—behind starting pitcher Sonny Gray. The Oakland ace delivered seven innings against one of the best lineups in Major League Baseball, giving up just three runs while striking out seven Toronto batters. Meanwhile, the A’s took a 4-0 lead on the strength of a three-run home run from Chris Coghlan, and the Oakland bullpen held despite giving up two runs in the eighth inning.
That 7-5 win was the highlight of the weekend for the A’s, as Saturday’s blowout loss to the Blue Jays was ugly. Starter Chris Bassitt gave up six runs in five innings, as Toronto won the game, 9-3. Despite taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Mark Canha’s solo home run, Oakland gave up five runs in the first two innings—and the rout was on. Bassitt is now just 1-9 in his A’s career, albeit with a 3.75 ERA.
Sunday’s 6-3 loss wasn’t as bad, but starter Eric Surkamp also gave up six runs before leaving the game before the fifth inning was over. Once again, the A’s took an early 1-0 lead but couldn’t hold on to it. Overall, the Oakland lineup managed just five hits, including Khris Davis’ second HR of the season. But the Toronto hitters were just too good for the mediocre A’s starters on Saturday and Sunday.
Surkamp is just 0-2 with a 5.59 ERA in four starts for Oakland in 2016, and it’s somewhat clear he shouldn’t be in the rotation. The A’s are waiting on Henderson Alvarez to get healthy, but giving away a chance at winning every time Surkamp starts isn’t a recipe for playoff success. Of course, Sean Manaea is lingering in the minor leagues, waiting for his chance to crack the rotation for good.
“We look at things after every series,” Oakland Manager Bob Melvin told the Associated Press after the loss. ”We’ll put our heads together and see what we think going into the next one.”
The next series is a four-game set in Detroit at Comerica Park against the 2012-13 playoff nemesis Tigers, starting this evening at 7:10 p.m. ET. The A’s send Kendall Graveman (1-1, 2.04 ERA) to the mound against Jordan Zimmermann (3-0, 0.00).