We've reached the point in Spring Training where the novelty has worn off. Hey, the A's are playing baseball! Oh, wait, it's just their minor leaguers and non-roster invitees, and no one cares who wins. Someone homered! Oh, it was off of a crappy AA pitcher. Tommy Milone threw 2 sharp innings! Oh, it was against the Rockies in the prestigious Not Coors Field. Everything comes with an entire shaker of salt at this point in the year.
Today's game was no different. Good things happened! But let's not read too much into them, because they happened in Spring Training. Let's go over the good things which we shouldn't get too worked up about.
The interesting thing about this game was that most of the damage was done early on by the Major Leaguers, rather than in the final three or four Minor League innings. Tommy Milone faced seven batters to get through two innings, allowing only a walk to Carlos Gonzalez. Meanwhile, his counterpart, Colorado's Jhoulys Chacin, had a bit more trouble; he tiptoed around some baserunners in the first two innings, but finally succumbed in the 3rd by allowing a 3-run homer to Josh Reddick. Oakland would add single runs in the 4th (small-ball by Hiro/Sogard), 5th (long-ball by Brandon Moss to dead center), and 6th (sac fly by Michael Choice, because RBI are an essential part of his diet), while Colorado managed only a 3-run shot off of Andrew Werner in the 6th.
It's not hard to identify the most noteworthy part of this game: DINGERZ! Both Reddick and Moss went yard, and that's nice to see regardless of the situation. Furthermore, both went deep off of actual Major League pitchers. Jhoulyis Chacin, who served up Reddick's dinger, is a 25-year-old with a career 126 ERA+ over 411 innings (67 starts) for the Rockies. Jeff Manship, who gave up Moss's bomb, is...well, he's a Major Leaguer, sometimes. Let's just leave it at that. Furthermore, Reddick's homer was of the 3-run variety, which, by definition, means two things. First, it means that he homered with runners on base. Second, it means that he got a hit with a runner in scoring position. Now that's meaningless good news which I can cling to!
Hiro Nakajima was another contributor today. He was hit by pitches in his first two at-bats, and after the second one, he stole 2nd base and scored on a single by Eric Sogard. It sounded like he also played some solid defense, which is encouraging. It's important to remember that there will always be a sharp learning curve for international players, in terms of learning the league, the culture, their teammates, etc. He's had a couple of defensive lapses and has struggled at the plate in the first week, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him steadily improve as the spring goes on and he gets more comfortable. Let's be patient.
Michael Choice continued to do good things as well. His sac fly in the 6th brought home the game's final run, and he followed it up with an opposite-field single. He's now 10-for-17 with 7 RBI this spring, and I can't tell you how excited I am to see him start playing real games in Sacramento. The only other noteworthy thing on offense was Shane Peterson collecting two more hits, pushing him to 9-for-20 overall.
On the pitching side, almost everything looked good. If you remove Werner's train wreck of an outing, Oakland pitchers threw 7 shutout innings and allowed only 2 hits; Werner accounted for the other 5 hits, and all 3 runs (on a homer by Nolan Arenado, a 21-year old who is Baseball America's #52 prospect for 2013). Sonny Gray relieved Milone in the 3rd and threw a pair of innings (striking out 2 batters), and Mike Ekstrom, Fernando Rodriguez, and Arnold Leon each added a scoreless inning. Everyone except Werner allowed a walk, which is something I never like to see, but no one allowed more than one.
That's all for today. It was a good game full of good things for Oakland. Yoenis Cespedes is still hitless this spring (0-for-11), but if you're worried about that then You Don't Know Yo. He showed an ability to make rapid adjustments last year, and I'm confident that he'll be fine. All that I care about is that he doesn't get hurt. Coco Crisp also made what sounded like an impressive catch in center field, tracking down a long fly at the wall to make a basket catch on the run. I'm just going to picture the Willie Mays Catch with a sweet afro, so don't ruin that image for me.
Join us tomorrow for a re-match against Colorado. Nico will have your Game Thread (if he's not too busy milling around Oakland's dugout, trying to ask Tommy Milone for his phone number), and the FanPost Recap Contest will continue after the game. "Witt_Writer18," "YellowMelonCust," and "whaxed" will have recaps for you, so check them out and vote for your favorite by giving it a Rec!