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August 18, 2014

What You Need to Know

August 18, 2014

by Daniel Rathman


The Weekend Takeaway
At the end of play last weekend, the Athletics held a four-game lead over the Angels in the American League West. That was the third-largest gap between first- and second-place teams in any division. If you’d had to pick one of the six to be tied one week later, you probably would’ve looked elsewhere.

But the A’s went on a tough road trip, first to Kansas City, where they couldn’t solve the Royals’ arms, then to Atlanta, where they continued to scuffle at the plate. With the exception of an 11-3 blowout win on Tuesday, Bob Melvin’s offense didn’t exceed three runs in any game on the trek.

The Braves, just a game over .500 at 61-60 when the A’s arrived in Atlanta, had no such difficulty getting to four.

Jason Hammel’s misadventures in green and gold continued in Friday’s opener, in which he lasted only three-plus innings and served up a home run trifecta. Justin Upton went first, followed by Evan Gattis in the second inning, and Freddie Freeman in the third:

The last of those blasts was a three-runner, which buried the A’s in a ditch they couldn’t climb out of. Phil Gosselin’s first career homer dug them deeper in the bottom of the sixth. Not long after Oakland lost 7-2, Anaheim downed Texas, 5-4, led by a three-run homer by Kole Calhoun.

Sonny Gray did better than Hammel, but not by much; he battled through 5 1/3 innings without his best stuff, but was charged with four runs before giving way to Dan Otero. The A’s supplied the yardwork at Turner Field on Saturday, with a sixth-inning, two-run homer by Stephen Vogt and a ninth-inning solo jack by John Jaso, but those only brought the visitors to within one run. They didn’t have any left in the tank and fell 4-3.

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