The good news: Trevor Cahill finally had a solid outing, avoiding the longball. Only four of the 21 outs he recorded were in the air, proof enough that he kept things on the ground when Baltimore put the ball in play. He allowed eight hits and a number of them were just in the right places to get through, which is how it's going to go with someone who's supposed to be a ground ball pitcher.
The bad news: the A's were only able to score courtesy of a pair of solo homers by Scott Hairston in the fourth and Adam Kennedy in the fifth, and Cahill was unable to hold the 2-1 lead or get the shutdown inning as the Orioles took the lead back in their half of the fifth, holding on for a 3-2 victory.
David Hernandez pitched very well for Baltimore, working 6 2/3 innings and allowing just six hits and a walk to go with six strikeouts, a career high. Matt Albers, Danys Baez and Jim Johnson kept the A's off the board in relief. Cahill whiffed four. Jay Marshall made his 2009 A's debut with a 1-2-3 eighth.
It was a bit of a weird game. With Melvin Mora at the plate in the second, a pitch by Cahill ran up and in on him. As Mora tried to move out of the way the ball hit the knob of his bat and ricocheted to Tommy Everidge, scoring Nolan Reimold. With Brian Roberts on second base in the fifth, the damage was limited to two runs as he forgot there was just one out on a Nick Markakis popup, leading to an easy double play as he kept running home.
Controversy surfaced in the ninth. With one out and Bobby Crosby at first, running for Everidge after a leadoff single, Mark Ellis hit a grounder to Mora who stumbled and threw into the dirt. Replays clearly showed Ellis beat the throw to first but Ted Barrett blew the call, signaling out. Pinch-hitter Nomar Garciaparra then flew out harmlessly to Adam Jones in center to end it.
Calls like this are sure to stir up the replay debate like they do every time they happen. Last night in San Francisco the Dodgers benefited from two bad calls at first by Bill Hohn. As angry as we can be about tonight's mistake - who knows what happens if the A's have first and second with one out? - there's nothing else to do but gripe and move on.
It wasn't long ago our side benefited from a terrible call at the plate to end that wild game against Minnesota. As many close, bang-bang plays umpires have to make a quick call on, they're inevitably going to miss some. At least it's just in a mostly meaningless regular season game and you have to hope they don't have a direct impact on the outcome like this one did. Still, it's easy to say "If they scored a few more runs then it wouldn't matter." If anything, the problem was in Barrett responding to some chirping from the A's dugout after the final out. Hey, you blew the call. Just go into the tunnel and come back tomorrow.
The A's close out their roadtrip with a 10:35 AM Pacific start tomorrow, which also brings to an end their streak of 28 straight games without a day off. Let's see if Bob Geren actually gives Kurt Suzuki a rest like he said he would.