Ok… take a breath. We are only four games in. Yes, the Angels are most A’s fan’s least favorite team in the league and losing 3 out of four is never easy, but there are a few positives to take away.
At least we won opening day right? No but seriously, that was awful and all hope is lost already. Don’t get me wrong, I will still watch every game, but there is no excuse for the mental errors and shoddy play on both sides of the ball at this level of competition. I still firmly believe that 2018 is going to be a huge coming out year for Matt Olsen, Matt Chapman, Sean Manea, and Franklin Barreto, but my spring dream of a wildcard spot is fading quickly.
After about 30 spring training games in Arizona, there is no excuse for the defensive mistakes, especially in the outfield that cost the A’s big in this series. Khris Davis, for all of his offensive output, has started to look like a real liability in left. Yeah the sun is tough in Oakland and the “skies are high”, whatever that means, but this is the big leagues and you just HAVE to catch the ball.
There were a handful of plays, not just the fault of Khrush that lead to runs that were unearned in my book, even if they went down as hits in the box score. In my opinion, all three outfielders need to be assertive when the ball goes up during a day game. I get that Boog Powell is a young guy and might generally defer to a veteran like Jed Lowrie when he’s calling for the ball, but as a centerfielder, you have to have the confidence to take charge in the outfield. Same thing goes for Piscotty. He wasn’t acquired for his defense, but he can’t leave Matt Olsen out on an island when someone skies a popup like he did in game four of the series.
That’s it. Negativity over. Now to the great performances of this series:
If you didn’t know that Sean Manea has the potential to be an ace in this league, you do now. His biggest issue has always been stringing consistent starts together, which has still yet to be seen, but his 7.2 IP on 4 hits, no walks, and 7 strikeouts against a solid Angels lineup was impressive. His accuracy stuck out to me most, as he walked no one, allowing him to stay into the later innings of the game and keep pressure off of our haphazard bullpen.
Despite my criticism, I would say that in general, I was pleasantly surprised with the bullpen. Buchter looks to have been a steal, Casilla must have gone to Bartolo Cologne’s witch doctor to regain his youth, and Yusmeiro Petit was the model of consistency in each of his appearances. Others were harmed by a combination of bad luck on infield bounces and the fly ball mishaps I mentioned earlier.
Looking forward to this next series against the Rangers, I think the offense is going to wake up and put up big numbers. I can see Jonathan Lucroy, who got off to a bit of a slow start, coming to life against his old club from Texas. I predict a 2-2 split at home before we head to Los Angeles to kick off our first road trip of the year. Keep an eye out for the shifts that the A’s employ against the powerful lefties Gallo, Mazara, and Odor on the rangers. Houston, the analytical mavericks that they are (something they love to remind everyone about), threw out four outfielders agains Gallo to neutralize his power to the gaps.
I’ll end by saying that the season is long. I still have hope and so should you.