A's bullpen in dire need of fixing after heartbreaking loss vs. Mariners originally appeared on nbcsportsbayarea.com
These are games the A's just didn't lose last season.
That's not hyperbole. Oakland didn't lose a single contest when leading after seven innings until the final week of the season, when it had already locked up a postseason berth.
This year, it's been a totally different story. Monday's 6-5 loss in Seattle marked the A's fourth defeat when leading after seven innings, and that doesn't even include blown leads in the 11th and 13th in Toronto and Pittsburgh last road trip.
Monday night was truly a heartbreaker. The A's carried a 4-1 lead into the eighth inning, only to see the normally reliable Lou Trivino surrender a game-tying three-run home run to Daniel Vogelbach.
It was Oakland's 10th blown save of the season, the most in the majors. As a team, the A's only have six converted saves, a rate of just 37.5 percent, which also ranks last in MLB.
Oakland still recovered to take a 5-4 lead in the 10th inning when Ramón Laureano blasted the team's fifth solo home run of the night. But Seattle rallied for two more runs in the bottom half of the inning to walk off with the victory.
A's manager Bob Melvin, who was ejected in the eighth inning for arguing balls and strikes, told reporters that closer Blake Treinen was not available due to his high workload. That meant Joakim Soria had to stay in the game for a second inning and ended up making a season-high 41 pitches.
"With the workload that we've had recently, with the extra-inning games and so forth, you're not going to have everybody available," Melvin told reporters. "You do the best you can with what you have and we still have a lot of confidence in Soria."
Soria retired the first five Mariners he faced before surrendering a walk, double, and single to end the game. Fatigue clearly appeared to play a role,
"I was running a little bit out of gas, but it's part of baseball," Soria told reporters. "It's part of the game. It's sad that we bounced back and had that homer by Laureano and ended up losing."
The A's bullpen still has a decent ERA of 4.08 for the season, but their late-inning arms have failed them at the most inopportune times. Treinen, Trivino, and Soria have combined for six of the team's 10 blown saves.
A big part of the problem has been a high workload. The A's pen has already thrown 167 2/3 innings, fourth-most in the majors. Individually, Oakland has six different relievers who rank in the top 15 of the American League for innings pitched.
"Obviously, we've been pitching a lot," Soria said. "This is part of the job. Sometimes you have to go out there and try to support your teammates. If you can give two innings or more, that's a plus for us."
One way or another, the A's bullpen has to be significantly better. These types of losses are hard to overcome.