The American League Wild Card race is red-hot with a little over a month to go, with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox currently holding the two berths and the Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners, and Toronto Blue Jays still with a considerable chance.
While scorching hot teams such as the Yankees (11-game winning streak) and Mariners (7-3 in their last 10 games) have gained some ground in recent days, others such as the Red Sox and Athletics have been scuffling and lost some steam.
The A’s, specifically, held the second spot of the Wild Card until recently, but a stretch of ugly losses have resulted in them being on the outside looking as of Wednesday afternoon.
Oakland is currently 70-57, two games behind the Red Sox for the second Wild Card berth and 4.5 behind the Yankees.
The A’s Are Trending Down
The Athletics have lost eight of their last 10 contests, and not only lost their postseason spot for now, but they have also seen the Mariners get very close to them.
By losing their last four games, two against the San Francisco Giants and two against the pesky Mariners, Oakland has mortgaged their chances to make the postseason.
August has been a roller-coaster ride for the Athletics: they opened the month by winning eight of their first nine games.
However, since August 13, Oakland is 3-9.
He's right. It's a narrative. No deadline acquisitions have done anything significant in the AL East. Marte has been great, but after seven game win streak A's are 3-9 last 12, 2-8 last 10, lost four in a row. Who's made a huge difference???
— Dan Gleason (@DAN_GLEASON) August 25, 2021
Seattle is now only a single game behind the A’s, who recently lost their best pitcher, Chris Bassitt, as he was hit by a comebacker in the face and required surgery.
The #A’s announce that pitcher Chris Bassitt had successful facial surgery in Chicago and the doctor ‘was able to stabilize and plate the tripod fracture with good fixation and debride other small fractured bones from the incident.’ He is expected to leave hospital this week.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) August 24, 2021
Bassitt is 12-4 with a 3.22 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP in 25 starts and 151 frames in 2021.
Oakland now has to face the streaking Yankees four times, starting on August 24.
Losing that series could leave them in very bad shape for what is coming in September.
With Bassitt’s face requiring at least six weeks of rest to heal after surgery, it’s safe to say we won’t see him in the rest of the regular season.
Oakland will have to fight back and gain some of the lost ground without their best hurler.
It will be hard from a competitive standpoint, but also from a mental angle.
The A’s pitching has allowed 58 runs in their most recent 12-game skid, or 4.83 per game.
Considering that they have scored 41 over that timeframe, it’s problematic.
In the end, they still have a good shot to make the playoffs, but they need to start winning games.
They Will Have To Come Back Without Two Top Performers
Not only they will be without Bassitt, but they will also be without their center fielder and one of their top offensive performers in Ramon Laureano.
Laureano was suspended for 80 games in early August for using performance-enhancing drugs.
He tested positive for Nandrolone, a performance-enhancing substance.
It’s a huge blow to the A’s, not only because of his offense (he was hitting .246/.317/.443 with 14 homers, 39 RBI and 12 stolen bases in 88 games) but also because of his top-notch defense.
Oakland, while still very much alive in the race, has several things working against them and will need to step up big time.