Athletics Offense Continues to Flounder; Look for Davis, Pinder to Get Back in Saturday

John Hickey

The “see the ball, hit the ball” part of baseball is curiously missing from the A’s 2020 season so far.

Friday night was the poorest performance yet, just three hits total in a 5-3 loss to the Mariners in Seattle, and just one of those hits in the first seven innings against M’s starter Taijuan Walker.

The much-delayed season is seven games old, and the A’s haven’t hit at all. Their peak has been eight hits; Friday’s three-hit showing was the poorest of the season. Oakland is 3-4 with a .193 batting average.

The A’s, who only had one stretch of seven games last year where they were similarly woeful. That was also late July (the 21st through the 27th) and it struck when Oakland was 100 games into the season and were 16 games over .500. This time, the A’s have hit the offensive skids coming out of the chute, they’re 3-4 and the season has been reduced from 162 games to just 60.

The A’s don’t have another 155 games to get going.

Small wonder, then, that A’s manager Bob Melvin sounded a little down when he talked about this one+ after the final out.

“I was looking at our offensive numbers today, and they weren’t great, as far as the league goes,” he said. “And then we didn’t have a good offensive game again today. When you are not hitting on all cylinders, you end up getting nicked up a little bit and a getting beat with some of the intrinsic stuff.

“So, we’re going to have to swing the bats better. I don’t seven games is time to sound the alarm bells yet, but this certainly is not 162 games where you just don’t worry about things until you’re 80 to 100 games into the season.”

The only hit off Walker came leading off the fourth inning when the right-hander, who had retired the first eight men he’d faced before a two-out third inning walk to Tony Kemp, was stung by a double from Ramon Laureano. Any suggestion that Oakland was ready to turn it around vanished when Walker got the next three outs in order.

In fact, he got the next 11 outs in order before walking Mark Canha in the seventh. Walker pitched out of that minor incident before turning a 5-0 lead over to the Seattle bullpen.

Melvin has already tried playing with his lineups. Friday was the second consecutive game he’s had Khris Davis, the 2018 American League home run champion, on the bench. Davis has begun the season hitless in his first 15 at=bats, but he’s actually not doing that much worse than some of his teammates.

Matt Olson is hitting .174. Even after having the A’s only single of the game Friday, Stephen Piscotty is at .118. Chad Pinder, who like Davis got the night off, is at .111. If you add Pinder to the second base collection, the entire ensemble is at .083.

Melvin was willing to give Walker a reasonable amount of credit. At the same time, his lineup is as healthy as it was at any time last year, when the A’s averaged 8.6 hits per game, a level they have failed to reach even once this year. And this is a team that averaged 1.6 homers per game (257 total) last year. They’ve hit one in the last 31 innings.

Look for the look to change on Saturday, even if the results don’t. With left-hander Yusei Kukuchi due to pitch for the Mariners, Davis and Pinder, both right handers, are likely to call from Melvin to start, who is waiting for something to happen. Marcus Semien hit a two-run triple in the eighth and scored on a Ramon Laureano sacrifice fly, but it was too little, and the A’s went down quietly after that.

“Once we got into their bullpen, our at-bats got better,” Melvin said, “which they tend to do for us later in the game. We just put ourselves in too much of a hole to begin with.”

Saturday, it’s time to get the shovels out.

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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