Programming note: For all the day’s sports news, tune in to SportsNet Central tonight at 6 p.m., 10:30 and midnight on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
OAKLAND –- A’s players are saying all the right things.
They talk of a belief that they can get their ship steered back in the right direction.
With 10 games left in the regular season, however, it’s tough to find the evidence of how that’s going to happen.
They went down quietly Thursday afternoon in a 7-2 loss to the Texas Rangers. Rather than take advantage of an inferior opponent they had on their home field, the A’s instead got swept by a Rangers squad that’s been ravaged by injuries and is without such stars as Prince Fielder, Shin-Soo Choo and Yu Darvish.
It’s bizarre that for a team that currently holds one of the American League’s two wild card spots, the postseason seems like some sort of mirage for the A’s –- something they can see far off in the distance, yet something that seems impossible for them to actually get their hands on.
Oakland is 11-25 since Aug. 10, and the variety of ways in which they’re finding to lose clearly has torpedoed the team’s confidence. That’s apparent in their body language, and apparent in the way they’ve been unable to stop a slide that’s hard to fathom if you don’t see it unfold on a daily basis.
“You've got to fight being beat down based on what has transpired here recently,” manager Bob Melvin said after Thursday’s loss. “It's not like they're not up for (the games). We had a game like last night (where a ninth inning lead got away). We come in today, it's a quick turnaround. It's tough sometimes to get over these things.
“We're still in the wild card. But all that's moot unless we start to play better. We'll find ourselves in no position if we continue to lose.”
The A’s entered Thursday night trailing Kansas City by a half-game for the A.L.’s top wild card, but leading Seattle by 1 ½ for the second spot. There’s an excitement and anticipation that goes along with being in a pennant race in September, and that’s something that first baseman Brandon Moss says is absent from his team right now.
“When you're in a race, and it's a wild-card race now, that kind of baseball's supposed to be fun,” Moss said. “I don't see anybody in this clubhouse having any fun right now. With the way things are going and just how things have built, we're pretty frustrated.
“I think we're definitely pressing to right the ship. You can see it in our demeanor. You can see it in the way things happen.”
There are 10 games left – three against Philadelphia, currently in the N.L. East cellar; three against the Angels, who have already clinched the A.L. West; and four at Texas, which believe it or not took seven of nine from the A’s at the Coliseum this season.
As Melvin has said often lately, the opponent is immaterial right now. The downward spiral that the A’s are on is all about them. And changing course, if they manage to do it, will be all about them too.
“We’ve all been through slumps individually and been through slumps as a team,” outfielder Sam Fuld said. “When you’re in the middle of it, it seems like there’s no way out. But some of the hottest moments you’ve had as an individual come after a really bad slump. The same applies for the team as a whole.”