The Oakland A's are not in a complete free fall, but they are experiencing the next worst thing.
The Athletics were swept away by the worst team in baseball Thursday afternoon when the Texas Rangers came into the Oakland Coliseum and won three straight from Oakland. The Athletics' hopes to win an AL West crown were dashed earlier this week; and yesterday's loss knocks them from the top spot in the American League Wildcard.
Sonny Gray did not have it on Thursday afternoon - giving up four first inning runs and only lasting five innings. A bunch of names even a devout baseball fan wouldn't recognize roughed up Gray - Smolinski, Telis and Rua recording RBI singles. Gray would eventually get tough and not allow another run on his afternoon, but the tough first only allowed him to get through five innings.
Rangers do damage
Those four runs would be plenty for the Rangers, though. Nick Martinez threw 5.2 effective innings to move to 4-11 on the season. The Rangers' transitioned infielder only allowed two runs in the third when Sam Fuld tripled to right field. The A's couldn't mount anything on top of Fuld's spark and went silently for the last six innings. The sweep gives Texas its 60th win in what's been a nightmare year dotted with injuries all over the roster.
Luckily for Oakland, the top two Wildcard spots now make the playoffs in each league. The A's still would be in the playoffs if the season ended today because of their one-game lead over the Mariners. But Oakland is still flirting with arguably the worst collapse ever, even with the expanded playoff format.
Historic loss of form
As ESPN documented earlier this month, Oakland may become the first team in the Wildcard era to hold the league's best record at the All-Star break and not make the playoffs. Such an instance never happened when there was just one Wildcard winner in each league.
If there's any solace in the situation, it's that the Philadelphia Phillies come to town for a weekend set by The Bay. The Phillies have been terrible all season and have seemed to start mailing it in with a couple weeks left in the MLB's marathon season.
The A's certainly hope the Phillies can be the last ledge to grab on to before that complete free fall does happen.
The first game of the series begins tonight at 9:35 EST.