The Oakland A's lost a tough game on Tuesday night, 5-4, to drop to 4-5 on the season. It was a game the A's should have won -- they held a 4-1 lead with two-outs in the eighth inning. While the bullpen was the biggest culprit in that loss, the game also magnified another issue the A's have been facing since the start of the year: a lack of consistent offense.
Through nine games, the A's pitching staff has been surprisingly effective. The A's are second in the American League in team ERA with a 2.85 mark. They have needed every bit of that pitching to remain close to .500. Including last night's loss, the A's have played in an incredible SIX one-run games, going 3-3 in those contests. Playing that many close games isn't a sustainable way to remain competitive, and the A's need to start putting together some big offensive games to give their pitching staff some breathing room. The A's have scored more than four runs in a game exactly once thus far this season.
Normally plate patience is a plus for Oakland, but the A's haven't been their typical tough at-bats this season. They are fifth in the league in strike-out and have drawn the third-fewest walks in the AL. The A's have faced a few tough pitchers (Chris Sale and Felix Hernandez in particular), but Oakland has also made some mediocre pitchers look good. Last night versus Hector Santiago, the A's saw very few pitches and he made it until two-outs in the eighth inning.
The A's have tried a number of different line-ups so far this season, and there can be such a thing as over-tinkering. However, there are a few moves the A's could make until everyone starts to string together better at-bats. The first move could be to sit Khris Davis for a game to clear his head and then move him down to seventh or eighth in the line-up until he starts to swing the bat better. Davis is going to be the key to the A's offense this season, and he may be feeling the pressure of being the big hitter on a new team. Moving him down in the line-up and/or giving him a day off (he's played in eight of nine games) could help him get back on-track.
One of the biggest surprises for the A's so far this year has been the production of Coco Crisp, who wasn't expected to be able to contribute that much this season thanks to his health. He may not be able to sustain his production for the long-run, but while he is healthy and playing well, it would be behoove the A's to keep him in the line-up. However, his playing time shouldn't come at the expense of Billy Burns, who is another catalyst for the A's offense. Pairing them together either in the outfield or by DHign Crisp for a few games could get the A's going with the running game. Burns showed the impact of his speed in Tuesday's game when he stole two bases. Those two are the only players who have attempted a stolen base for the A's this season (they are 5-for-5).