Desperation is the worst cologne, and right now the Oakland Athletics stink.
Mired in a six-game losing streak with three of their top six starting pitchers on the disabled list, the A’s are turning to relatively unknown and unheralded Guillermo Moscoso as the starter tonight for the second game of a four-game series in Anaheim against the Los Angeles Angels.
And hopefully, Brian Fuentes won’t pitch in this one, because chances are if he did, Oakland would lose the game.
Moscoso is a 27-year old righty with a 3-2 record and a 4.02 ERA right now for Triple-A Sacramento. In eight appearances for the River Cats — seven of them starts — he has allowed just one home run in 40 1/3 innings while striking out 43 hitters.
So far this season, the A’s starting pitching has been its greatest — and only — strength. Oakland starters are 17-14 with a MLB-leading 2.64 ERA, which is almost a half run better than the next-best team in the majors (San Francisco).
But the A’s problems elsewhere have prevented the team from capitalizing on that strength and maximizing a potential return. With a 22-26 overall record, Oakland has been betrayed repeatedly by its shaky bullpen (MLB-leading 12 losses already), its anemic offense (26th overall in runs scored and 27th in OPS), and its poor defense (27th in total errors).
Therefore, it’s stunning to realize the team is only three games out of first place. The Texas Rangers lead the American League West division with a 25-23 record, so the A’s are lucky to be in this division and this league — only the surprising Cleveland Indians have a record better than four games above .500 in the AL.
So while it’s easy to think Oakland is still in this, that thinking only can take the A’s so far. They need to actually start winning some games they should be winning — and they’ve shown little proclivity for doing so this year.
Even with the stellar pitching, the team is only 7-24 this year when scoring four runs or less. They’ve lost five games to the opponents’ last at-bat, and they’ve lost 13 games where they held the lead at some point.
All the missed opportunities mean the A’s could have been the surprise team in the AL right now, instead of the Indians.
But instead, they’re still just the same old Oakland team that’s been taking the field since 2007: not very good and certainly not worthy of playoff consideration.
Sooner or later that has to change, and with Moscoso on the mound tonight, maybe it’s the A’s turn to start surprising some people.
Let’s hope the cologne smells better than desperation.