St. Louis 6, Oakland 4 (WPA Graph from Fangraphs)
A's Current Record: 33-36
I try to avoid being overly dramatic, but this road trip is looking like the beginning of the end for the A's playoff chances this season and maybe for Bob Geren's tenure as A's manager as well. With Geren still facing questions about the managerial mistakes that Adam pointed out yesterday, he continued his questionable decision making last night and the A's suddenly find themselves three games under .500 and seven games out in the AL West.
The A's managed to score four runs in the second inning off of Chris Carpenter, who started the game looking surpirsingly shaky. In addition to scoring the four runs on five hits in the second, they could have added more as Kevin Kouzmanoff struck out with the bases loaded to end the first inning. Despite the promising start, the A's added only three more baserunners the rest of the way.
Vin Mazzaro kept the A's in the game, going 5 innings, allowing 4 runs and leaving a tied ballgame. The results were not ideal, but he didn't look that bad. His major mistake came on a pitch to Matt Holliday in the first that Holliday smashed into the seats for a two run homer. Holliday got to Mazzaro again in the fifth, as he and Albert Pujols both had RBI singles in the frame. Mazzaro did walk three, but he also struck out five, and sometimes good hitters like Holliday and world class ones, like Pujols, are going to beat you.
Even though the A's didn't even threaten to score any runs after the second, it would have been nice for the A's to have had a shot at maybe going into extra innings. The bullpen allowed two runs, negating such a chance, and Geren's bullpen management was the reason for the runs the Cards got in the seventh.
I know that with Michael Wuertz struggling a bit, it makes the A's pen a bit more difficult to manage, but as we've noted at least six or seven times on this blog, Brad Ziegler just shouldn't be facing lefties in critical situations. After pitching a perfect sixth, he gave up a leadoff double to Brendan Ryan. The left handed hitting Skip Schumaker was next and Geren should have gone to Craig Breslow. I don't care that Holliday and Pujols were going to bat next. You have to get Schumaker out first and Wuertz could have pitched to those two guys (or totally unrealistically, but ideally it could have been Bailey). Schumaker roped a ground rule double and the A's chances of winning basically disappeared right there.
The A's obviously have time to evaluate their playoff chances before having to make any serious moves. Still, its hard to see the A's climbing back into contention with Geren continuing to make odd bullpen choices and the offense seemingly incapable of hitting home runs. Conor Jackson's looked good so far (knock on wood), but his addition may have been too little too late.