OAKLAND — A's manager Bob Melvin isn't someone likely to fly off the handle. He's been managing off and on for a decade, and he had a 10-year playing career before that.
Not much comes around that he hasn't seen.
So the A's recent offensive malaise isn't something that's foreign to him. But for the first time Wednesday, Melvin seemed to want to scream his frustration.
He didn't. What he did was get up from his chair in the press conference room and say "That's it" after voicing his displeasure about the A's 5-3 loss to Seattle.
What he said was to the point. The A's are not playing well now, they haven't been for a while. And while Melvin didn't say it, the inference was that unless the level of play improves, the A's aren't going to spend any time playing in October.
Oakland flew Thursday to Baltimore for a three-game weekend set with another struggling playoff contender, the Orioles.
Then it's off to Detroit for four games with the Tigers, who began Thursday with the best record in the American League. After that the A's return home for a pair of three-game series with Tampa and Texas. That will make 10 straight contests against teams, who along with the Red Sox and A's, are on a pace to win at least 91 games.
So what will it take for the A's to play better, especially against such good competition? Chili Davis has some ideas.
The Oakland hitting coach was so frustrated by the A's performances midway through this homestand that after one game he begged off talking to this newspaper because, he said, he didn't want to say anything he'd regret, and he didn't want to say anything without saying it to the players first.
Davis' frustration level hadn't decreased a few days later, but after the clubhouse cleared he sat down and talked about an Oakland offense that is the key to getting the A's right.
The pitchers have done their job; they rank in the top three in the league in earned run average. They are the reason the A's have 71 wins and are in post-season contention.
The hitters, on the other hand, are 12th in batting average, ninth in runs scored and homers, and seventh in on-base percentage. With the exception of Josh Donaldson at third base and middle infielder Jed Lowrie, the numbers have been disappointing all the way around.
Particularly troublesome is the club's performance with runners in scoring position. With men at third base, the team average is just .221; the league average is .267. With runners at second base, the A's are hitting .250, about the league norm, but they haven't hit at that pace lately.
"With what we've done with men at second and third, I don't know what to say," Davis said. "The pressure should be on the pitchers, and we're putting the pressure on ourselves. And there's no excuse for it. The idea is simple. Get a pitch to drive and hit it.