June 28, 2022

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Athletics suffer second nine-game losing skid as relievers’ struggles continue

The Athletics exceeded expectations for the 2022 club by going 10-11 in April.

But in May, the disparity in talent on Oakland’s roster caught up to them as they went 10-21, falling to 20-32 on the season. That included a stretch from April 29 through May 8 where they lost nine straight.

As bad as May was for the A’s, June has gotten off to an even worse start. Following an 8-4 loss to the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field on Thursday night, the A’s current losing skid has hit nine … again. They are 0-7 so far this month.

Per MLB.com’s Martin Gallegos, this is the first time since 1978 that the A’s have had two losing streaks of at least nine games in the same season.

Through five and a half innings Thursday, it appeared the A’s might have a chance to avoid that bit of a dubious history as they took a 4-2 lead on a two-run double by Seth Brown in the top of the fifth.

But the A’s bullpen struggled mightily once again, blowing the lead and allowing the Guardians to score six unanswered runs.

A.J. Puk allowed one earned run in 1 1/3 innings and Zach Jackson was charged with one earned run after Sam Moll allowed an inherited runner to score on a single by Steven Kwan in the seventh. And in the eighth, Lou Trivino was shelled for five hits and four earned runs in 1/3 of an inning.

Per The San Francisco Chronicle’s Matt Kawahara, the A’s bullpen now has an 8.60 ERA over the last 13 games.

 

Following Thursday’s loss, first-year manager Mark Kotsay tried to put his finger on what is going wrong with his relievers as of late.

“We utilized our bullpen for the first part of this season successfully with matching up and giving these guys their best chance for success,” Kotsay told reporters in Cleveland. “We started with Puk going through the left-handed part of the lineup and landing Jackson there against some righties and when it rolled back around against Kwan, I felt Moll had the best chance to get him out. Unfortunately, that matchup wasn’t successful. And then there again in the eighth, it seems to be that eighth inning where we’re running into some issues right now.”

Trivino, coming off his best season in the big leagues in which he recorded 22 saves and had a 3.18 ERA, is having the worst year of his career. He entered Thursday’s game with a 6.91 ERA and after his latest outing, it ballooned to 9.20.

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Kotsay said A’s pitching coach Scott Emerson will dive into trying to figure out what’s wrong with Trivino, whether it’s a mechanical issue or simply pitch sequencing.

After a spring in which most of the veteran players were stripped from the roster, the A’s possess the second-worst record in MLB (20-39), with only the Kansas City Royals (18-37) worse.

The good news for the A’s is that they send their two most reliable pitchers — Paul Blackburn and Frankie Montas — to the mound the next two days in Cleveland, hoping that one of them can help end the losing streak and possibly give the bullpen a much-needed night off.