If the 2013 Oakland Athletics end up looking back on this regular season with regret, they will have to look no further than this disaster of a home stand they just completed at the O.co Coliseum: nine games, five losses and a lot of missed opportunities.
With today's come-from-behind loss to the Seattle Mariners, the A's finished the home stand with a 4-5 record, which included four losses to two teams that are a combined 41.5 games behind them in the standings.
First, it was losing two games to the Houston Astros (41-84) last Monday and Tuesday that started the nine-game "staycation" at the Coliseum off very wrong. Lastly, it's losing Tuesday and Wednesday to the Seattle Mariners (59-67) in games where Oakland led in the latter half of each contest.
Now, the A's face a nasty stretch of games against very good teams, and as covered in this space a few weeks ago, they really needed to take advantage of the few respites the upcoming schedule afforded them.
And they did not -- they punted away games in alarming fashion: errors on defense and the base paths, not advancing runners in fundamental situations, walking too many batters, giving up too many home runs, etc.
Basically, the A's couldn't have played too much worse in the last few weeks.
Yes, Oakland (71-55) still controls its own destiny, etc., and yes, the A's are still in a playoff position right now.
But the season doesn't end today, and the way Oakland is playing? They won't be in the postseason if it continues: the A's are just 15-16 since the All-Star break more than a month ago, and now they get to go on the following schedule gauntlet for the next 13 games:
- At Baltimore, August 23-25, to face the Orioles (67-58) three times, including a nationally-televised game on Saturday (FOX) against Chris Tillman, who is 14-4 this year;
- At Detroit, August 26-29, where they will face the Tigers (73-52) for four games, including a matchup against playoff nemesis Justin Verlander on Tuesday, August 27;
- Home against Tampa Bay (72-52) over Labor Day Weekend for three games, August 30 through September 1, as the Rays close in on the American League East division lead;
- Home against the Texas Rangers (73-53), for three games on September 2-4, and the A's now trail the Rangers by two games in the AL West division race.
These 13 games literally could knock Oakland out of the postseason chase if they continue playing as poorly as they have been since the All-Star break, and they have to know it.
So it comes to this: the A's will either play to the best of their potential and secure the chance to pursue the organization's 10th World Series title in October, or they will continue to stink and fail to improve on their 2012 postseason efforts.
Manager Bob Melvin usually makes the most of what he has, but perhaps it's time to consider that maybe this roster just isn't good enough as is to repeat as AL West division champions.
Only time will tell now, but the team needs to win at least seven of these next 13 games to have a good shot at the postseason in 2013.