After a game like that, someone has to be the guy to find the silver lining. It may as well be me.
If you DVR'ed this game, and you decided, for some reason, to watch it after reading the recap on AN, then let me save you a few hours: Skip to the top of the 4th inning. After Bartolo Colon serves up back-to-back homers to Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko to lead off the frame, turn off the TV. You just saw the entire game. The bullpen and defense gifted Chicago two more runs in the 9th, for a final score of 4-0. So far, I have recapped two games this year, and we lost both of them 4-0. That is a neat coincidence.
Colon actually pitched a pretty solid game, requiring just 89 pitches to breeze through 7 strong innings. The two solo homers accounted for the only runs that Colon allowed tonight, on a total of 7 hits and 3 walks. The walks were particularly noteworthy, as Colon had issued just two in his first four starts (27.1 innings). Unfortunately, he ran up against 2007 NL Cy Young winner Jake Peavy, who did his best Philip Humber impression in facing just 4 batters over the minimum during his complete game shutout. Four years ago, if you'd said that Jake Peavy was doing his best Philip Humber impression, it would have meant that he had been sent to AAA or traded for Johan Santana or something. Tonight, it meant that he pitched really, really well. Baseball is weird.
I don't want to spend too much time dwelling on the negatives, so let's try to get them out of the way in one sentence. Six players went hitless, Peavy only had to throw 107 pitches, Kila Ka'aihue missed a chance to capitalize on a playing opportunity, and Fautino De Los Santos failed to record an out for his third straight appearance (5 hits, two walks in that time).
With that out of the way, let's move on to other topics. Coco Crisp was back in the lineup, which might be a positive or a negative depending on your opinion of Coco playing left field. He managed to reach base twice, but he didn't hit anything very hard. He drew a 5-pitch walk which didn't require a whole lot of plate discipline, and he hit a fairly sharp grounder through the hole into right field for a single. I am usually not impressed by ground ball singles, because they are virtually identical to groundouts. This was no different than normal. I'd love to see Coco hit a line drive one of these days.
Yoenis Cespedes looked mostly overmatched by Peavy, popping out twice to the catcher and taking a called third strike in the 1st inning. He did manage to knock a double into the left field corner, though; I take that as a positive, because he got a solid hit off of a great pitcher. Also, it qualifies as an A's highlight for tonight, because it was one of the team's three total hits (Crisp and Jemile Weeks each singled).
Despite Kila's bad game at the plate, it was noteworthy that he drew the start. He has now started in 4 of the last 5 games, and you have to wonder how long of a leash Daric Barton will have at first base if Kila continues to hit. I am still rooting for Barton to return to his 2010 form, when he led the league in walks and won the Fielding Bible award as the top defensive 1st baseman in the Majors, but Kila is an intriguing contender for the position. He struck out twice tonight, but it should be noted that he had K'd only once this season coming into the game (in 29 plate appearances). If you're ever going to whiff, it might as well be against Peavy.
Josh Reddick, Seth Smith, Kurt Suzuki, and Cliff Pennington did absolutely nothing of note in this game. They combined to go 0-12 (with a walk!) and not do anything exceptionally good or bad in the field.
A couple of new faces came out of the bullpen tonight. Pedro Figueroa made his second appearance of the season, throwing a scoreless inning despite a hit and a walk. He was wild on a few pitches, but I thought that he showed promise with mid-nineties heat and interesting movement. In addition, Rich Thompson made his first appearance for the A's, retiring two batters and allowing an infield hit (which should have been ruled an error). Welcome, Rich!
The real news tonight, though, was Luke Hughes. That is probably the only time in your life that you will read that sentence. If you didn't watch the game, then it is entirely possible that you've never heard of Hughes. We claimed him off of waivers from the Minnesota Twins, which is bad because it means that he was cut by the Minnesota Twins, who are 5-12 so far after losing 99 games last year. Hughes is a native of Australia, because apparently we are collecting those now. He's also primarily a second baseman, but he's seen a photograph of third base before, and the A's decided that that was enough experience to let him play there. (That's an exaggeration; in reality, he's played some third in his career, but it is not his normal position.) The result was an 0-for-3 with a bad-looking strikeout and a warning track flyout, to go along with two throwing errors. Overall, not impressive. It was just one game, however, and although Hughes doesn't have a very intriguing pedigree, you've got to give a guy more than one game to prove himself. Even if he is a 27-year old with a career .285 OBP.
That brings me to one final note about tonight's game. It has to with one of my least favorite stats: Errors. When I refer to it as one of my least favorite stats, I don't mean that I hate it when players make errors (although that is also a true statement). I mean that the statistic itself is stupid and subjective. What makes a play an error, and what makes it a hit? The answer to that question varies from night to night, stadium to stadium, scorer to scorer. Tonight, an error meant something like, "Make a defensive miscue that is so serious that it kills a man." Anything less, and it counted as a hit. I counted
4 3 plays that should have been errors, but were scored as hits:
- 2nd inning, AJ Pierzynski misses a foul popup not 5 feet from home plate. However, he misjudged it so badly that it didn't even touch his glove, which means that it doesn't count as an error.
- 4th inning, Dayan Viciedo hits a routine double-play ball to Pennington. Penny plays the grounder just fine, but can't get a grip on the ball, double clutches, and fails to even make a throw. I understand that the scorer never assumes a double play, but that should have at least been a routine groundout to shortstop. I genuinely have no idea why this wasn't an error.
- 9th inning, Luke Hughes botches a potential double-play grounder, throwing high to Weeks at second and pulling him off the bag. It was initially ruled a hit, but they changed it to an error while I was writing this, somewhat ruining my point. Thanks, guys.
- 9th inning, Jemile Weeks plays a grounder up the middle, but tries to do his fancy glove flip to Pennington for the inning-ending forceout. Instead, the ball catches in his webbing and goes straight into the ground, resulting in an extra insurance run for Chicago. After consulting with a scientist, I have concluded that his glove flip didn't work because it is a stupid play that will never work consistently. It is a play which Weeks continues to attempt, presumably for swag reasons, and it is a play that he needs to stop attempting. It is unnecessarily risky and flashy, and while it might work sometimes, the positive is outweighed by the many times that it doesn't work.
I promised you a silver lining, didn't I? Hmm...no one got injured? Nah, that's too jinxy. None of our players were elbowed in the head by Metta World Peace? No, the night's not over, so that's still a possibility. Wait, I've got it! Jerry Blevins came into a high-leverage situation, and got the job done! With the bases loaded and nobody out in the 9th, Blevins struck out Adam Dunn, the only hitter he faced. That's your silver lining. Take it or leave it.