After winning the first two games at US Cellular Field, the A’s lost the final two to go home with a series split.
Saturday saw the A’s take a 1-0 lead on a Josh Donaldson RBI single, but then the offense went flat. Chicago tied the game on an Adam Dunn home run, then the White Sox plated three more in the eighth capped off by a Paul Konerko two-run home run. Chicago won that game 4-1.
On Sunday it was more of the same. The A’s got a solo homer from Coco Crisp to jump out to a 1-0 lead. But that lead was short-lived as Tyler Flowers launched a home run to tie the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the third. The Pale Hose tacked on three more on a Conor Gillaspie sacrifice fly, a Gordon Beckham RBI double and an Alex Rios home run. Oakland would plate a run on an errant throw by Matt Thornton, but couldn’t get anything else going offensively.
So rather than harp on the two losses or bask in the two wins, here’s a look at some of the positives and negatives from the A’s four-game series in the South Side of Chicago.
– Despite dropping a couple to end the series, the A’s have still won 18 of their last 23 games. That’s pretty good. Furthermore, Oakland is just a half game back of Texas for first in the division. Also pretty good, considering the fact the A’s were eight games back in the middle of May.
– The last two games of the White Sox series also capped off a run of 17 consecutive games without a day off for the A’s. In those 17 games Oakland went 13-4. Losing two in the Windy City certainly is not the end of the world.
– Jerry Blevins and Grant Balfour continued their very good years out of the bullpen. Blevins picked up the win on Thursday by pitching an inning and surrendering just one hit. On Sunday, he issued nothing more than a two-out walk. The lanky left-hander hasn’t allowed an earned run since May 12. Grant Balfour notched saves in each A’s win in the series giving up just one hit in two innings of work. Balfour has now converted 33 straight save opportunities.
– Oakland had back-to-back comebacks from 3-0 deficits in the first two games of the series. There’s a ton of fight in this team and not only did they climb their way back into those contests, but eventually pulled out victories. The A’s continually win games in different ways and seem to be growing as a ball club right before our eyes. Winning those kind of games will benefit them as the season wears on and potentially into the postseason.
– The A’s have a day off on Monday. A 162-game season is a grind both physically and mentally. That’s where some of the rough at-bats the A’s had came from later in the series. Swinging at bad pitches and not having a great approach is not indicative of this squad at the plate. A day off to rest the bodies and minds will benefit Oakland greatly before beginning a six-game home stand.
– Oakland still hasn’t lost a series since losing two-of-three to Texas May 13-15.
– Thanks to a go-ahead grand slam and a couple of near White Sox home runs, fans got some pure gold from White Sox Broadcaster Hawk Harrelson. Donaldson’s slam initiated a period of silence before Hawk muttered dejectedly, “I love this game.”
– Sean Doolittle’s struggles continued. While he did have a nice outing in Oakland’s 5-4 win in game one of the series, his next outing wasn’t so smooth. In the A’s 4-1 loss on Saturday, Doolittle took the loss when he gave up three runs on three hits in just a third of an inning. Those rough outings have become an all too familiar sight for fans of the Green and Gold. In Doolittle’s last five appearances he’s given up 10 runs on 13 hits in just three-and-two-thirds innings. That equates to an ERA of 24.55, with opponents hitting a blistering .565 against the A’s lefty.
– The offense went dormant. After scoring single runs in five of the first 10 innings in the series, the A’s went on to score in just four of the final 27. All four of their runs in their 4-3 win on Friday came in one inning. Then on Saturday they scored just once, and Sunday they scored twice — once in third and once in the seventh. The A’s bats had been scorching hot, but were cooled considerably by the White Sox pitching staff over the final couple games of the series.
– The A’s did manage a series split, and got some good pitching. However, crooked numbers were an issue beginning with Dan Straily on Thursday. Straily pitched well, but surrendered three runs in the third inning on four hits. Friday saw Jarrod Parker give up just one run in three consecutive innings. Doolittle gave up three runs in the eighth inning on the way to an A’s loss on Saturday. On Sunday AJ Griffin pitched well, but he gave up a pair of runs on three hits with a walk in the fourth. While these numbers aren’t particularly dreadful, they were really put under a microscope due to the fact Oakland’s offense had a tough time pushing a crooked number of their own across.
– Jed Lowrie had one hit in 16 trips to the plate in the series. Ouch. Lowrie’s .319 batting average fell to .302.
– Harrelson’s smug face as he interviewed Conor Gillaspie after Sunday’s ChiSox win was enough to make even the people with the strongest stomachs vomit. What a piece of work that guy is. You can put it on the board.
The best thing for the A’s is that their first back-to-back losses since May 14-15 will be followed by a much-needed day off. Over the span of 17 straight games Oakland, as a team, hit .263 and had an ERA of 2.95. If that keeps up, they’ll win plenty more games this season.
The Green and Gold return home to the Coliseum on Tuesday to begin a three-game set with the New York Yankees. The Yankees will look to avenge the four-game sweep they suffered at the hands of the A’s at O.Co Coliseum last season. Bartolo Colon will face off against C.C. Sabathia in game one of that series. (I don’t have numbers to back this up, but that has to be the heaviest starting pitching matchup in Major League Baseball this season. The two hurlers weight in at a combined 556 pounds.)