On Wednesday, the Oakland Athletics scored 11 runs in a win over the Texas Rangers that put the A's back into first place in the American League West division -- including five runs in five innings off All-Star Yu Darvish, who came into the game with a 2.73 ERA and who leads the AL with 240 strikeouts this season.
Thursday night, the same A's lost to the Houston Astros and Brad Peacock, a rookie who entered the game with a 5.98 ERA yet somehow struck out nine Oakland hitters in seven-plus innings while giving up only two runs in the eighth inning.
This kind of inconsistency is nothing new for the Oakland offense, but it's the kind of fatal flaw that isn't going to be a positive heading into the postseason. Sure, terrible offensive teams have won the World Series before (locally, think about the 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers beat the A's or the 2010 San Francisco Giants beating the Texas Rangers), but it's only because they get once-in-a-lifetime hot streaks at the right time -- not the kind of reliable strategy a club should count on in October.
The A's have three more games against the Astros at the O.co Coliseum this weekend, and they probably don't want a repeat of Thursday night's flail fest. With the loss, Oakland dropped back into second place in the AL West; however, they still lead the Tampa Bay Rays by 2.5 games for the top wild-card spot and the New York Yankees by five games for the second wild-card berth.
One-run losses at home to teams like Houston hurt, though -- the A's have 19 of their remaining 22 games against teams under .500, and they need to take advantage of that reality: Oakland also is just three losses behind the Boston Red Sox for the best record in the AL, and with a home record of 44-27 this season, the A's have one of the best "home-field" advantages in the league.
It'd be nice to secure that advantage for as long as possible in the playoffs, of course, but the offense has to generate more consistency in order that to even matter.
Actually, Oakland is tied for fifth in the majors overall this season in runs scored (628). However, that can be deceiving when the team scores one run on Tuesday in a loss, followed by 11 runs on Wednesday in a win -- only to return to a two-run effort in a loss last night.
Inconsistency, at its most frustrating, to be sure.
The A's will send A.J. Griffin (12-9, 3.84 ERA) to the mound tonight against the Astros and Dallas Keuchel (5-8, 4.77 ERA), but the Oakland lineup better be ready -- or else it's going to be another long weekend at the Coliseum for the A's and their fans.