Close But No Cigar: A's Forget, At Crucial Times, To Swing, Catch

Here are some truths about baseball, in order of appearance in the A's 5-3 loss that gave the Mariners a series sweep:

1. It is better to be a TTO hitter than it is to be a TTO pitcher. Jack Cust's HR, which put the A's on the board tonight, his near HR that curved 1/1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000th of an inch foul, and two strikeouts left him, when the dust cleared, as one of the bright spots amongst the A's batters.

But the combination of walks, strikeouts, and HRs really doesn't work well for a pitcher. Gio Gonzalez struck out 7 tonight, dazzling at times, but also walked 3 and served up a 1st inning HR to Jose Lopez -- following a walk to Jack Hannahan -- and wound up charged with 4 runs, throwing 107 pitches in 5 innings. Fewer less walks and HRs please, Gio, and not so many of them, kthxbye.

2. It's great to be able to outrun the baseball, but you also need to catch it. Rajai Davis dropped two fly balls tonight after running them down, one generously ruled a double, the second ruled an error. The error came with the A's trailing just 4-3 in the 7th, and was followed by a broken-bat single to LF by Mike Sweeney. Scott Hairston, whose defense continues to underwhelm me, made a looping and offline throw that was still going to get the runner -- except that Kurt Suzuki didn't catch this one either.

3. When the tying run is at 1st base, he gets home better when you swing at strikes. With two on and nobody out in the 9th, first Tommy Everidge watched three fastballs, each one more down the middle than the last, then Nomar was called out on strikes on yes, a borderline pitch, but c'mon guys. Seriously, stop making Ed Crosby look good because that's hard to do.

A few other observations...

* Where was Daric Barton? It's weird how the A's seem to platoon Barton, not starting him against LHPs, sometimes pinch-hitting for him against a LHP -- yet they don't do this with Everidge or Nomar against RHPs. Do the A's believe that right-handed hitters can hit RHP but left-handed hitters can't hit LHP? Barton probably should have hit for Everidge leading off the 7th, definitely should have pinch-hit for Everidge in the 9th, and arguably should have been the choice to hit for Pennington.

* This was the major league debut calling "balls and strikes" for Dan Bellino and I thought he did a great job. (Nomar probably disagrees.)

* Jeff Gray looked better than I've seen him at any time, throwing 95MPH with movement, locating his pitches, and fooling hitters when he pulled the string with his slider. I haven't been especially impressed with Gray previously, but tonight was impressive. He has passed Santiago Casilla on the depth chart (as has 1/2 of AN) and he's moving in the right direction. Keep an eye...

* I'll never root for the A's to lose, but given that they have here's tonight's "silver lining": The A's entered play in a flat-footed tie with Cleveland for overall record (which impacts draft position). Cleveland won tonight. Go Indians!

Reminder: If your schedule says that the A's don't play tomorrow, your schedule is lying to you. The A's and Angels play at 7:25pm, in the makeup game for the April 9th game that was canceled following the Nick Adenhart tragedy.

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