Stop me if you have heard this before: The A's scored first, and scored multiple runs in one of the first 3 innings. A top pitcher looked good once through the batting order. Then, everything fell apart.
Today's game had a promising beginning, in what seems like eons ago. Parker faced only one over the minimum through 2. In the second inning, after a fielding error by J.J. Hardy allowed Brandon Moss aboard and Josh Reddick walked, Josh Donaldson blasted a double to CF off of Adam Jones' glove, scoring both and giving the A's and Parker a 2-0 lead. They had a chance for more after another error by Manny Machado let Eric Sogard on, but Coco Crisp grounded out to end the threat.
Staked to two-run lead, Parker
got the shutdown inning uneventfully in 1-2-3 fashion... Oh, sorry, that was the alternate universe recap where shutdown innings abound, like sunshine on a summer day. And where bunnies romp aimlessly through fields of blooming wildflowers. Instead, in this universe -- albeit with some help by a missed swinging strike call from the umpiring crew -- the O's scored on singles by Nate McLouth, Nick Markakis, and a double by Jones to complete erase the A's lead. While Parker would set the Orioles down in the 4th without scoring, they tacked on another in the 5th. This was probably the most annoying part of the game for me. McLouth doubled to open the inning, which was fine. But then, Buck Showalter inexplicably called for a bunt by Manny Machado. This isn't asking the ninth place hitter to bunt - it's arguably the best all-around player on their team bunting. He layed it down and all, but the worst part was Markakis actually hitting a sacrifice fly to make Showalter look smart and get an insurance run to make it 4-2. Run expectancy tables tell you that it's not the percentage play to bunt a runner on second base to third base while creating an out in the process. Unfortunately, there is no doubt this will only add to the lore of the Fightin' Showalters.
As for the rest of the game, the Orioles would tack on several more runs. Chris Davis did a Chris Davis thing and flung his bat out and sent a high line drive over the scoreboard in dead left field. Nate McLouth beat out a double play attempt for another run. Matt Wieters hit a sacrifice fly. J.J. Hardy hit a no-man's-land bloop single that Chris Young flew in to attempt to catch, but booted it away from himself, Crisp, and Lowrie. I guess it's a good thing Lowrie and Crisp didn't collide, as that would have caused a rip in the injury universe (not to mention the A's up the middle defense). Davis singled in another run just out of the reach of a diving Adam Rosales. Matt Wieters was awarded an infield single on a clear dual misplay by Brandon Moss. He again ranged far to his right, to the point where Adam Rosales could have made a much easier play, and also improperly led Jesse Chavez with his throw to the bag. That made it 10-2 and an all around turd of a game for the A's.
Positives? Well, no one got injured. Oh, Reddick drew a walk! And hit a ball hard to left-center that Adam Jones eventually tracked down, and crushed a liner to 1B in the ninth. And also went well with an outside pitch that way for a double. He's starting to swing the bat better.
I'm leaving it at that. I don't really have any answers here. After a good start in Tampa, Parker ended up reverting to his form of previous 2013 starts. His stuff is fine, but it appears his fastball command is just non-existent. Does that mean he should be sent down and Dan Straily called up? I don't know, but I do wonder how much longer a leash the team will give him in a contention year. The A's entered the day third in MLB with a +29 run differential, but I don't really feel like that's indicative of how they've played overall. They appear to be a feast-or-famine team: when things go bad like today, they go really bad and everything looks sloppy. When they go good, they blow teams out. It's only been 23 games, but this season promises to be, if nothing else, confounding.
The A's will do it again tomorrow. Baseballgirl will host your thread.