The magic isn't necessarily gone for the A's, but their ability to win in thrilling fashion has escaped them since the second half of the season began.
With their latest loss, a 6-5 defeat Wednesday against the Reds, the A's have lost three games in a row, six of their past seven and three straight series. They are 8-10 since the All-Star break, and their exclusive lead in the American League West has vanished entering Friday's opener of a four-game series against Toronto.
Oakland's offense has faltered, and now it appears the pitching is falling back to Earth, too. A's starters have a 4.65 ERA since the break and 5.57 ERA in the past 12 games, compared to a 3.62 ERA posted before the season's unofficial halfway point.
The A's will look to reverse that trend when they play a three-game set in Toronto against the Blue Jays, who took two of three from Oakland last week.
Jarrod Parker takes the bump for the A's after battling through six innings against the Rangers his last time out, as he allowed two runs in a win.
Parker had only one clean inning against the Rangers, and his pitch count escalated quickly. He also gave up his first home run since July 6 -- a solo shot to Ian Kinsler in the fifth. But more times than not, he made a big pitch when he had to, something Oakland's staff has struggled to do since the break.
"I felt like it was very important that he got us through the sixth and he battled through ... without his best stuff, and he kept his composure and made big pitches when he had to," manager Bob Melvin said at the time.
Opposing Parker will be Esmil Rogers, who is 3-6 with a 4.61 ERA and saw his struggles continue during his last start against the Angels. He allowed seven runs -- five earned -- on 10 hits over just five innings, and he's 0-3 with a 7.63 ERA over his past six outings.
Rogers struck out the first batter he faced, then proceeded to allow three consecutive singles to load the bases. One run came around to score on Mark Trumbo's groundout, while Erick Aybar and Chris Nelson followed with a pair of RBI singles to open up an early lead on the Blue Jays.
"We spotted [the Angels] three again ... so it's an uphill battle," manager John Gibbons said afterward. "That has been happening way too much lately."
A's: Callaspo exits with forearm injury
A's second baseman Alberto Callaspo exited Wednesday's 6-5 loss to the Reds because of a left forearm contusion and is considered day to day, though he believes he'll be fine for Friday's series opener in Toronto.
Callaspo sustained the injury on a play at the plate in the fourth, when he was tagged out trying to score from second on a Stephen Vogt single. He was replaced by Eric Sogard at second base in the bottom half of the inning.
Before his departure, Callaspo collected two doubles off Reds righty Homer Bailey, not only marking his first hits in an A's uniform, but also snapping an 0-for-18 slide.
"I'm just trying to do my job," Callaspo said.
Blue Jays: Rested bullpen picking up slack
Gibbons did not have to lean heavily on Tuesday's starter, Josh Johnson, because of a rested bullpen. Instead of pushing Johnson an extra inning, Gibbons went to the bullpen for the final four frames to close out the win against Seattle.
The Blue Jays have received quality innings from their starters the past few days. But when a starter has struggled, relievers have been able to eat up a chunk of innings, like Brad Lincoln did Saturday, when he worked the final three frames against the Angels. Thursday's off-day will also help keep the bullpen rested.
Even though the Blue Jays lost All-Star reliever Steve Delabar when he was placed on the disabled list Sunday due to shoulder inflammation, Sergio Santos' return from the 60-day disabled list last Thursday has been a welcome addition.
"He's looked good these two outings he's had," Gibbons said of Santos, who has allowed one run in 3 1/3 innings since his return. "Two innings the other day in Anaheim and then yesterday. He's throwing strikes, and that's the key for him. He feels good."
• Melvin said he would write out his lineup with Rogers Centre's artificial turf in mind, most likely giving infielders Josh Donaldson and Jed Lowrie a day off at some point during the four-game series.
• Sogard is batting .383 during his 13-game hitting streak.
• Edwin Encarnacion's home run to lead off the third inning Wednesday was his 30th of the season, the second most he's had in a year after hitting 42 last season.
Jeff Kirshman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.