Frank Robinson threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The A's may have fared better if he'd started the game for them, as well.
"Wee Willie" Keeler is famous for two things:
- Perhaps the most unfortunate nickname in human history
- His highly quotable advice to hitters: "Keep your eye clear, and hit 'em where they ain't."
This game had an ominous tone from the very beginning. After being briefly delayed due to rain, Oakland got off to a quick start, with Jemile Weeks reaching on a 4-pitch walk and Coco Crisp beating out a bunt single. After Josh Reddick skied out, the two speedsters pulled off a double steal, affording Yoenis Cespedes the rare opportunity to bat with runners in scoring position.
Unfortunately, this moment in time represented the highest Win Probability that Oakland would enjoy for the rest of the night. I'm not exaggerating; after this moment, our chances of winning never got higher. Cespedes watched a very hittable strike three sail past him, Jonny Gomes walked, and Kurt Suzuki muscled up to extend his usual popout all the way to shallow right field. Bases loaded on two walks and an infield single, no runs to show for it. It was the most A's inning ever.
In the 2nd inning, Baltimore exploded. Well, exploded isn't the right word. That suggests that they crushed the ball all over and did lots of remarkable things. In the 2nd inning, Baltimore...dropped a cigarette butt in a damp field and accidentally started a fire. Here's how they did it:
- Adam Jones beat out an infield single on a slow chopper up the middle. Jemile Weeks made a solid play on it, but Jones is fast, and Weeks had no real chance.
- Wilson Betemit singled on a slow grounder through the hole into right field. Ten feet to either side, and it's a routine double-play.
- Chris Davis poked a low liner into left field for an RBI single. It wasn't a bloop, but it wasn't hit very hard, either. On the next pitch, Kurt Suzuki tried to pick Betemit off of 2nd base. A good throw would have had him. Unfortunately, Suzuki used up all of his good throws against Chicago. This one went into center field, advancing both runners. (1-0)
- Ronny Paulino hit a grounder up the middle to plate both runners. Again, he didn't hit it particularly hard; just a routine grounder that found a hole. Cespedes' ill-advised throw home allowed Paulino to reach 2nd. The ball was not hit hard enough to make a play at the plate, and hopefully Cespedes learned something from that mistake. (3-0)
- Ryan Flaherty, who is apparently a baseball player for the Baltimore Orioles, hit a ground ball. Thankfully, he was courteous enough to hit it toward Weeks, and an out was recorded. Baby steps! Paulino went to 3rd.
- Robert Andino hit a ground ball which was nearly identical to Paulino's, but slightly harder. Paulino trotted home from 3rd easily. (4-0)
- Nolan Reimold hit a flare into shallow center, and Cespedes went into an inexplicable feet-first slide to attempt a catch. A headfirst dive would probably have gotten the job done, and simply letting the ball fall in would have been less damaging. As it happened, the ball skipped past Cespedes, allowing the runners to move up to 2nd and 3rd.
- J.J. Hardy hit a sacrifice fly to left, scoring an extra run as a direct result of Cespedes' defensive miscue. Whoops. (5-0)
- Nick Markakis grounded out to Weeks, mercifully ending the inning.
"It is interference by a batter or a runner when...Any batter or runner who has just been put out hinders or impedes any following play being made on a runner. Such runner shall be declared out for the interference of his teammate."
- In the boxscore, it says that Tyson Ross got shelled. This didn't happen. He allowed a lot of contact, but it was almost entirely ground balls, and nothing was hit very hard. He only registered one strikeout, but he also only walked one batter. I don't know if he was catching too much of the zone, or if his pitches were too straight, or if this was just a case of really, really bad fortune (and poor outfield defense). But if my pitcher is going to give up 9 runs on 11 hits, I want it to look like this. He could pitch exactly like this next week and throw 7 sparkling innings.
- Jonny Gomes has Major League power, but we already knew that. He's got plenty of flaws, but there are worse bats you could have in your lineup. I know, because the A's have had most of them.
- Yoenis Cespedes is a rookie. Immensely talented, but a rookie nonetheless. This was a really ugly game for him, offensively and defensively, and hopefully he learns some lessons from it.
- I'm ready for a little bit less Coco Crisp and Luke Hughes, and a little bit more Michael Taylor and Adam Rosales. Coco had two hits: a bunt single, and a grounder up the middle. Nice results, but unsustainable methods. He also missed a flyball on a dive, allowing the runner to advance (in theory, that is; Cespedes bailed him out with a bullet to 3rd base, for his one good play of the game). Hughes struck out twice and continued to not look like a Major Leaguer (although he did collect a solid single)
- Kila made a nice dig at 1st base, saving Pennington from a throwing error. If he keeps playing solid defense like that, Daric Barton will soon find himself in another organization.
The A's put this one behind them and come back tomorrow for the rubber match, bright and early at 10:35am. Bartolo Colon faces Tommy Hunter in a match of literal heavyweights (515 combined pounds of pitcher).