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A's road woes continue to mount in Seattle

@DKramer_
May 15, 2019

SEATTLE -- The A’s took their MLB-high 15th road loss on the road on Tuesday, 4-3 to the Mariners, which is becoming an alarming trend given that they accumulated 47 wins away from home during their run to the postseason last year, tied for third most. What’s becoming an increasing

SEATTLE -- The A’s took their MLB-high 15th road loss on the road on Tuesday, 4-3 to the Mariners, which is becoming an alarming trend given that they accumulated 47 wins away from home during their run to the postseason last year, tied for third most.

What’s becoming an increasing concern isn’t necessarily the venue, but how the A’s losses are mounting. Tuesday marked the 16th game of their 44 total that they did not homer, and they are 1-15 in those contests. Only the Marlins have lost more games (19) this year in which they have not homered, and Miami has by far the fewest homers in the Majors, just 24.

Box score

The A’s don’t believe that living and dying by the long ball is a healthy approach, but they homered in all but 41 games last year, the second-best mark in MLB, yet still went 14-27 in those games.

Their offense across the board has regressed, as a breakdown from 2018 and ‘19 shows.

BA: .252 (12th) | .236 (22nd)
OBP: .325 (10th) | .314 (19th)
SLG: .439 (4th) | .396 (21st)
wOBA: .329 (5th) | .308 (20th)
wRC+: 110 (T-3rd) | 94 (19th)
HR per game: 1.40 (3rd) | 1.30 (14th)

To be sure, the A’s weren’t a shoo-in for the postseason at this point last season (22-22), and they didn’t hit their stride until midsummer, when they won an MLB-high 63 games after June 16. They were also fueled heavily by elite defense and a lights-out bullpen, but the A’s ability to do damage played as pivotal a role as any in their postseason run.

"That's definitely our strong suit,” said third baseman Matt Chapman, who is 4-for-34 over his last eight games. “I think what we need to do is figure out when we're not doing that, how we can still find ways to win games and still put up runs with getting base hits, taking an extra base, whatever it may be, working a walk, stealing a base. So I think we can work on some of the other things, and then everything will fall into place."

On Tuesday, the A’s mustered just six hits. They were stymied by Mariners starter Mike Leake for six-plus innings and had a bases-loaded rally brewing in the seventh halted when pinch-hitter Chad Pinder struck out against Roenis Elias to end the frame. They plated two unearned runs in the fifth, but only thanks to a throwing error from Mariners second baseman Tim Beckham on a two-out grounder.

The A’s three best hitters -- Chapman, Khris Davis and Matt Olson -- went a combined 0-for-12 with seven strikeouts. That trio combined for 101 homers in ’18.

"Offensively, I feel like that's kind of who we are,” Davis said of the club’s power prowess. “I think it's just a day-by-day kind of thing, where one day, you feel good, and the next day, you don't."

Manager Bob Melvin pointed out that there are other contributors in the lineup, and he didn’t want to let the heart of the order shoulder all the blame.

“We have, up and down the lineup, the potential to score some runs and hit the ball out of the ballpark,” Melvin said. “We can't just say those are the guys that need to carry the load."

With the Astros defeating the Tigers, the A’s are now 9 1/2 games back in the American League West, where they’ve held at least a share of last place since April 30.

"I think there is definitely some urgency,” Chapman said. “It's not like we need to win every game, but we need to be able to find some ways to put up some more runs and just be a little more competitive.

“You've got to think big picture. There's still a lot of baseball left, even though it feels like there's not. But there's so much time left. You've got to just keep working to go in the right direction.”

The A’s showed remnants of their power potential when they hit a season-high-tying five homers on Monday, including Olson going deep for his second straight game and Davis snapping a 20-game homerless streak.

However, each was a solo shot, which was perhaps reflective of Oakland’s struggles to manufacture baserunners. They entered Tuesday with 299 stranded baserunners, tied for fourth-most in MLB, and they stranded six more.

"We're not playing very well right now, and that's where we are,” Melvin said. “I don't think we have to assess things. We have a group of guys that won a lot of games last year, and we still feel like we have a chance to do that.”

Added Chapman: “We can't just expect it to happen. We have to make it happen by doing the little things right."

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.