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Phillies, A's gather in Oakland for super depressing three game series

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Philadelphia's two teams collide as one plays out a lost year and the other grapples with one of the most intensely downward spirals the sport has ever seen.

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Thearon W. Henderson

From July 3 to July 8, the A's won six games straight, sweeping a four-game series with the Blue Jays and taking two out of three from the Giants. Since those merry days, they've gone 26-36.

Tuesday, Scott Kazmir gave up six runs in 4.1 innings in a 6-3 loss. On Wednesday, leading 1-0 in the ninth, their bullpen suddenly gave up six runs and they lost. Last night, they went 1-for-9 with RISP... and they lost.

This three-game sweep came at the hands of the Rangers, by the way; an AL West team 32 games under .500 and at one point considered a disappointment back in June; now they've been a 2014 no-show for so long they're just blending in with the furniture.

It's not that the A's have blown it like some sort of Atlanta or New York baseball team - For christ's sake, they're 83-69, with a 1.5 game lead over the Mariners for an AL Wild Card spot.  It's more like they are blowing it. This is still going on. And if the Phillies were still playing for something, as Ben Revere said they were last week until they were mathematically eliminated seconds later, this would be the perfect time to play the once feared 2014 Oakland Athletics.

They just can't win right now, and it's going to cost them the post season they traded Yoenis Cespedes to reach. Billy Beane was being aggressive instead of cute; he was dropping the hammer on the AL West and giving the finger to a first-round NLDS loss.

This was the year. So of course, the A's are worse than ever. Moneyball is a failure and RBI are the premiere stat of the game. The rally possum is roadkill. Good luck out there.

Heavy Hitters

Woof. Let's, uh. Just start naming Athletics players.

Derek Norris

Eric Sogard

Oh, c'mon. Brandon Moss

Josh Donaldson

Aha! Donaldson's 5-for-19 this past week, with three doubles and a home run! His OPS for the last seven days is .912! Have we found the Athletics' hottest hitter?!

Hell, in August, he hit .313/.427/.490 with 17 BB. That's good! C'mon, that's good! I know he hit .181 in June. It's called counterweight.

Coco Crisp

In a minimum of 502 PA, Crisp holds the best ever numbers for GIDP - 1 in 418 AB. But

Could you find painful statistics on everybody in the Phillies lineup? Definitely. But they're in last place, not leading the Wild Card.

Albert Callaspo

Probable Starters

David Buchanan vs. Jon Lester

When Buchanan left his last start with one out in the seventh, the Phillies were up 3-1. Buchanan had allowed one walk and two strikeouts. Then Jonathan Papelbon came in, blew the save, grabbed his nuts, and got suspended for seven games. Also, the Phillies lost.

When Lester left his start at the end of the sixth, the Athletics were shutting out the Mariners. This ended with a 4-0 win and nobody grabbing their junk. Lester allowed four walks, four singles, and seven strikeouts for his appearance and was named AL Player of the Week. The start before that, he struck out eight Red Sox over eight innings during another win. With that 2.45 ERA and 1.10 WHIP, Lester is holding up his end of the bargain.

Jerome Williams vs. Drew Pomeranz

In a classic Phillies pitcher start, Williams held the Padres to two hits and a single run through 7.2 innings, while the Phillies scored no runs on Andrew Cashner and lost, 1-0. At least the game barely took two hours.

Pomeranz gets the spot start, with Jason Hammel away to see to the birth of his child. With a 2.85 ERA through nine Major League starts this year, he's everybody's fantasy darling pick for the weekend, apparently. Earlier this year he broke his non-throwing hand punching a chair. Better do what he says.

A.J. Burnett vs. Scott Kazmir

Burnett told the Inquirer that he "expected a lot of things to be different" in Philadelphia. Not sure why. It's not 2012 anymore, people can stop being surprised that the Phillies are deflating. He leads the league in losses with 17 - meaningless - but with 32 starts, his 2015 player option is now a stunning $12.75 million. He will be 38.

After giving up eight hits, four runs, and four walks in his last start in San Diego, a 5-4 loss in which Ryan Howard screwed up a couple plays, Burnett said his body felt like "horse shit."

Against Kazmir, opponents are hitting .077 with RISP and two outs. He is one the AL West's sexy lefties, but even he couldn't stand what he was seeing during his last start, one of those putrid losses to the worst-in-MLB Rangers, and was the first A's player to say something about how shitty the team has looked.

Well. Somebody's got to win these games.

Editor's Note: SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $18,000 Fantasy Baseball league for tonight's MLB games. It's $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Jump in now. Here's the FanDuel link.