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Lowell Cohn: A's loss to Mets small, albeit significant

  • Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija, right, walks back to the mound after giving up a three run homer to the New York Mets' Lucas Duda, left, during the third inning of their interleague baseball game Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

A funny thing happened to the Oakland A’s on their way to a three-game weekend series at home against the rival Angels. The New York Mets happened to the A’s.

The Mets are not supposed to happen to anyone. The Mets are a young team, a pretty bad team. The A’s had beaten them Tuesday in the first game of a two-game series that frankly never should have happened. What are the A’s doing playing the National League Mets?

But play the Mets they did in a Wednesday matinee. Bob Melvin was confident about the game, didn’t even start Josh Donaldson, although he played later when things became desperate. A’s starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija got his brains beaten in and the A’s lost 8-5 even though they had chances to win. The Mets gave them chances by committing three errors.

The A’s should be riding a two-game winning streak into Friday’s series opener against Los Angeles, or whatever the Angels call themselves — they probably have as much right to “Los Angeles” as the 49ers have to “San Francisco.” But instead of a two-game win streak, the A’s will come into Friday’s game after a loss.

It’s worse than that. The A’s, who finally have enjoyed national notoriety this season — “Lew, we’ve been discovered!!!” — have lost six of their past seven games, eight of their last 10. That is no way to prep for the Angels in what will be — no doubt about it — a showdown series, a series for dominance in the American League West, a series that, a while back, didn’t figure to matter this much. That’s how fabulous the A’s had been.

How fabulous were they? Well, for 112 straight days they had at least a share of first place. That included 106 consecutive games with sole possession of first. All that is over with now. The A’s are in second place. The Angels are in first. It’s sad when a team loses its fabulosity.

The A’s, for the time being, are not the team they used to be. Is it possible they really needed Yoenis Cespedes to be a dominant offensive club? It’s too early to tell, but you wonder.

After Wednesday’s game, I said to manager Bob Melvin, “You have a big series coming up on Friday. At what point do you stop thinking about today’s game?”

Melvin laughed. It was not a giddy laugh.

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