MLB TWIB Notes: Athletics sinking to new depths amid terrible start

By NOAH TRISTER

AP Baseball Writer

Baseball’s new pitch timer finally met its match this week in the form of Oakland’s pitching staff.

The Athletics walked 17 batters in a 17-6 loss to the New York Mets on Friday night. Time of game: 3 hours, 29 minutes — and it may have felt twice that long to anyone who stayed until the end.

With the Mets in town, Oakland drew 11,102 for that contest, an improvement for a team that managed under 12,000 fans for an entire three-game series against Cleveland. It’s been a dreary start for the A’s at the box office, and the team’s performance on the field has been even worse than expected.

After being swept by the Mets, the A’s have the worst record in the majors at 3-13. Their run differential of minus-63 is the worst in the sport, and the fourth-worst of the modern era in a team’s first 16 games.

Oakland has been held to one run or fewer five times, and the A’s have allowed 11 runs or more six times. In three of their games, they did both.

Oakland does have some company. Several clubs are off to particularly poor starts. The season is 18 days old, and already seven teams have run differentials of minus-20 or worse — the A’s, Tigers (-37), Royals (-28), Rockies (-27), Marlins (-26), White Sox (-23) and Nationals (-20). After 18 days had elapsed last season, only three teams were at minus-20 or worse.

There have been four 100-loss teams in each of the past three full 162-game seasons, in 2019, 2021 and 2022. It appears there are several candidates to reach that mark in 2023.

STAYING AFLOAT

The Los Angeles Dodgers are 8-8 heading into Monday night’s game against the New York Mets, but they’ve managed to avoid falling below .500 at any point this season. In fact, over the past few years, Los Angeles has hardly spent any time with a losing record. In 2018, the Dodgers were still under .500 in early June before recovering to win the National League pennant. Since then, here is their final losing record of each season.

2019: None (8-8 was final .500 record)

2020: None (2-2 was final .500 record)

2021: 0-1

2022: 1-2

TRIVIA TIME

Which team had the worst run differential of the modern era through 16 games?

LINE OF THE WEEK

Gerrit Cole struck out 10 in a two-hit shutout for the New York Yankees against Minnesota on Sunday. The Yankees won 2-0. Cole threw 109 pitches, and the game took 2:07. It was only the second complete game in the major leagues this season. The other also was against the Twins, by Miami’s Sandy Alcantara.

Honorable mentions: Ryan Mountcastle’s two-homer, nine-RBI performance for Baltimore on Tuesday, and Luis Arraez hitting for the cycle for the Marlins on that same night.

COMEBACK OF THE WEEK

St. Louis was down 6-2 in the top of the seventh at Colorado, and with two out and a man on first, the Cardinals had a win probability of 3.7% according to Baseball Savant. A walk and an error loaded the bases, and then another walk forced in a run. Then Nolan Arenado hit a three-run double that tied the game at 6.

Nolan Gorman then put St. Louis ahead with a leadoff homer in the ninth, and the Cardinals went on to win 9-6.

TRIVIA ANSWER

The Baltimore Orioles had a run differential of minus-77 after starting 0-16 in 1988. Those Orioles started 0-21, and yes, they also hold the modern record for worst run differential after 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 games.

Remarkably, the 2010 Pirates share the 19-game record with Baltimore at minus-82 even though Pittsburgh went a somewhat respectable 7-12 to start that season.

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Follow Noah Trister at https://www.twitter.com/noahtrister

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