The once-dominant Oakland Athletics have let their American League West lead slip over the past week. Having lost six out of the past seven games, this decline cannot be pinned on the defense, offense, or the pitching because honestly, it’s a little bit of everything.
First, lets look at the offense. This is probably the area where the Athletics need the most help. Even though the A’s have the 2013 Home Run Derby Champion Yoenis Cespedes in their lineup, they’ve only averaged .222 in July, which is a record low for this team.
Right fielder Josh Reddick is having one of the worst seasons of his career and seems to be in a permanent slump with a .203 batting average. Additionally, Alberto Callaspo, who the Athletics just acquired from the Los Angeles Angels and was seen as a bonus for the Athletics lineup, was pulled from the game on Wednesday with a forearm injury which occurred while sliding into second.
Then we have the Athletics pitching. The A’s bullpen was reliable and diligent throughout the first half the season. However, since the All-Star break, the Athletics pitching has been quite shaky.
First, All-Star closer Grant Balfour blew his first save of the season. Then, Bartolo Colon, one of the A’s top starters, was taken out in the third inning on Wednesday, which is the earliest Colon has been taking out of a game this season. Hopefully this is just due to the recent stomach virus Colon came down with because the Athletics are going to need a solid starter to stay on top. Finally, left-hander Tommy Milone was sent to Triple-A after allowing six runs in 3 ⅔ innings on Friday. Milone had a 9-9 record with a 4.39 ERA.
Last is the defense. There is no one player who is not making those critical defensive plays. It is definitely a cumulative problem. With multiple errors occurring each game, they tend to add up quickly and they always seem to allow the opposing team to score more often than not. Oakland started out the second half of the season with five errors in seven games, and has continued this trend with four errors in the past five games.
The Oakland Athletics have held the AL West lead since July 2nd, but this steady and quick decline has lessened their lead to only half a game over the Texas Rangers. It was once predicted that the A’s had a viable chance of winning the AL West and going far in the postseason. Now, this rut is causing the Athletics a lot of issues, including their AL West lead.