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Oakland A’s underwhelm vs. Mariners to open final homestand

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 20: Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sean Manaea #55 walks off the field in the first inning of their MLB game gainst the Seattle Mariners at the Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. OAKLAND — Win streaks must come to an end. But the loss that ended Oakland A’s five-game win streak was a gut punch. With just 12 games remaining in the regular season and the A’s on the outside looking into the wild card, every loss is a gut punch.

The A’s opened up their final, crucial homestand not with a bang, but a 4-2 loss whimper to the Seattle Mariners in the silence of a season-low crowd — in a post-COVID restriction crowd — of 4,068. With the loss, the A’s remain two games back of the second wild card spot held by the Toronto Blue Jays. The New York Yankees sit a half game back of the second spot and the Boston Red Sox, who were off Monday, are 1.5 games up in the first spot.

“It’s huge. Playoffs are pretty much starting right now,” Sean Manaea said. “We have to do our part and it’s going to be a crazy last two weeks.”

This A’s team isn’t missing the drive — they know the uphill climb ahead and experience over the last three seasons solidifying postseason berths has hardened them. Their toughest task started Monday, playing the Mariners seven times and the Houston Astros six times both home and away. Quite the hurdle to get into the postseason. The Mariners are also well within reach of a wild card spot. OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 20:Oakland Athletics’ Matt Chapman #26 strikes out swinging against Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Tyler Anderson #31 in the sixth inning of their MLB game at the Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group) They’ve played neither team well. They’re 4-9 against the Astros and Mariners this year. Frankly, with a 10-9 record against the Texas Rangers, the A’s showing against the American League West hasn’t been as dominant as needed — save for a 15-4 record against the Los Angeles Angels.

Oakland isn’t missing the talent to get it done — they have cornerstone players in Matt Olson, an MVP candidate, and Matt Chapman, a generational defender whose bat can get hotter than anyone’s. They have trade deadline acquisitions stepping up; Starling Marte, Josh Harrison, Yan Gomes and Andrew Chafin have been irreplaceable in their respective roles, at times individually carrying the team to big wins.

Those pieces came up short on Monday in a listless effort at the plate, magnified in the A’s few scoring opportunities. Chad Pinder and Khris Davis combined for back-to-back doubles to open up the third inning, and it looked like a rally was forming with a run on the board and one in scoring position.

But Elvis Andrus hit into a sacrifice bunt to move Davis to third, a wasted out made worse when Harrison and Marte […]

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