There are a lot of reasons why the NL has been getting its butt handed to it by the AL in recent years. Money is one, the DH is another. Matt Klaassan of FanGraphs has another theory: better GMs in the AL than in the NL.
He doesn’t rank them, really. He simply creates two pools: one with the five best general managers, generally speaking, and one with the five worst. By his estimation four of the five best are in the AL and four of the five worst are in the NL. We can quibble with his pool — even with the financial advantage I don’t think Beane is necessarily a better general manager than Brian Cashman, for example — but no matter how you shuffle the names around, I’m not sure you can break the 4-1 advantage the AL has over the NL. Maybe you could still substitute John Mozeliak for Beane, but at this point I’m stretching.
I’m the sort of person who is highly skeptical of silver bullet explanations. Most things in life are a function of many complicated factors interacting. When we add in stuff like the GM gap to the money thing and the DH I think we get closer to the truth than simply blaming the Yankees-Red Sox arms race, for example.
After drubbing the Angels 10-0 on Wednesday, the Athletics stayed hot, scoring 21 runs to once again rout the Angels on Thursday afternoon. Edwin Jackson got the start, yielding two earned runs on three hits and three walks with seven strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings.
The offense started in the bottom of the third inning, when the A’s plated five runs. That featured a two-run double from Matt Chapman and a three-run home run from Stephen Piscotty. In the fourth, the A’s scored seven more on RBI singles from Jed Lowrie, Khris Davis, Matt Olson, and Stephen Piscotty, which were followed up with an RBI double from Ramon Laureano and an RBI single from Marcus Semien. In the sixth, the A’s bolstered their lead to 18-2 when Laureano hit a bases-loaded single, Semien hit a bases-clearing double, Josh Phegley hit an RBI single, and Franklin Barreto knocked in a run with a double play. The following inning, with position player Francisco Arcia pitching, Nick Martini hit a two-run homer and Chad Pinder made it back-to-back jacks with a solo shot of his own, pushing the score to 21-2.
Arcia hit a solo homer for the Angels in the top of the ninth to make it 21-3, then Kaleb Cowart popped out to end the game. It’s the sixth time a team has scored 20-plus runs this season and the first since the Mets won 24-4 over the Phillies on August 16. The other occurrences: Dodgers 21-5 over the Brewers on August 2, Nationals 25-4 over the Mets on July 31, Diamondbacks 20-5 over the Padres on July 7, and Phillies 20-1 over the Marlins on April 7.
Notables in the box score for the A’s: Martini had three hits and three runs scored, Piscotty had four RBI, Semien had three hits and five RBI, and Phegley had three hits with three runs scored.
With Thursday’s win, the A’s cut their deficit to 3.5 games behind the Astros in the AL West. They have a six-game lead over the Rays for the second Wild Card and trail the Yankees by two games for the first Wild Card. Nine games remain in the regular season for the A’s.