Frustration mounts as second-half struggles continue

Frustration mounts as second-half struggles continue

Frustration mounts as second-half struggles continue

OAKLAND -- He'd understandably had enough, to the point where he motioned to get up as he told reporters, "That's it," before they could ask another question.

A's manager Bob Melvin walked away from a silent room of media types that, for three minutes Wednesday, he had used as a sounding board to express a fury of disappointment in a team that had just lost its second straight to the Mariners and 12th of its last 21 overall.

A typically patient, calm manager was livid, fuming, genuinely upset after a 5-3 loss -- not to mention worried about the possibility of losing yet another player to injury, with Josh Reddick on his way to the hospital to get an MRI on the right wrist he sprained in the seventh inning.

Melvin didn't want to really even talk about the questionable call at the plate in the sixth inning that resulted in a crucial run for the Mariners and the near loss of catcher Stephen Vogt, who was thrown off his feet and onto the ground in the collision, staying there before deeming himself OK to continue.

It didn't matter anymore, even though Melvin was sure Dustin Ackley was out, despite home-plate umpire Chad Fairchild claiming otherwise.

"Regardless," Melvin said, "everything that we did today is what's wrong with us. We didn't add on early, we didn't make big pitches when we had to, we didn't come through in situational at-bats. Ugly, ugly game for us, and it's been going on for a while."

Ever since the All-Star break, really.

The A's are 15-16 in that time, batting .195 with runners in scoring position after hitting .251 in such situations before the break, and they're getting inconsistent pitching. They've dropped five of their last seven series, some to teams with sub-.500 records: the Mariners, Astros and Blue Jays.

And their next four series? Those are against the Orioles, Tigers, Rays and Rangers -- all contenders.

"We need to play well to beat anybody right now," said Josh Donaldson. "We really need to be at our best."

In short, they haven't been. They went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded six on base Wednesday, including five with fewer than two outs.

They're squandering countless scoring opportunities and, in turn, potentially another postseason appearance.

Wednesday's disheartening loss, which came on the heels of an equally frustrating one on Tuesday featuring a rare meltdown by the bullpen, set the A's back 2 1/2 games of the Rangers, who walked off vs. the Astros in the ninth, in the American League West.

It started with a Coco Crisp leadoff home run, continuing with a Jed Lowrie triple that went to waste with no outs. That's what's standing out in these games, more so than Crisp's home run or the one hit by Brandon Moss in the fourth.

"We're leaving guys on third with less than two outs, we're not getting guys over, and that's what cost us the game today," said Melvin. "We've seen it for the better part of the second half.

"We continually address it. Sometimes I think we do it too much to where we put too much pressure on guys. But it comes to a point where you just have to step up. You have to grind it, you have to get it done, and we're not."

Melvin did not feel the need to address his players by way of a team meeting after the loss.

"No, he didn't really talk to us, but we all know what we have to do," said Vogt. "We've been playing the game long enough to know those are the situations we have to capitalize in execution situations. It's frustrating. We know we're a better team than that."

"I think we just need someone to step up in a big spot, and get the job done and kind of take some pressure off everybody else," added Lowrie. "That's what we've done all year. We haven't had to rely on one particular person. We've had everyone chip in. I think that's what this team is built around, too. It's built around the entire lineup."

Along with a pitching staff that has been spotty.

Starter A.J. Griffin went six innings this time, allowing four runs on five hits, two of them homers to Michael Morse and Brad Miller, and four walks with seven strikeouts. Two of the walks resulted in runs.

Griffin's 30 home runs allowed lead the Majors, and the walks are suddenly piling up, too, with 15 issued in his last three starts.

"Trying to be more careful, not give into guys as much," said Griffin. "That's where the walks are coming from."

Frustration abounds all around in the A's clubhouse, with no one direction to point a finger.

"We have enough leaders here," said Melvin. "We have enough guys who know how to play the game. We're just not getting it done."

Jane Lee is a reporter for Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.