Game #119: The Magic is Officially Gone; A's Drop Game and Series to Astros

Thearon W. Henderson

I could throw a lot of blame on the horrific strike zone by Angel Hernandez. I could also lament the lightening-striking-twice-in-the-same-place bad luck that saw yet ANOTHER game-winning homerun by Chris Young foiled, this time by an over-the wall catch by the Astros--the ASTROS. But if I'm going to lay blame, it's on the A's offense tonight, for a) not being able to score more than one run against THE ASTROS and b) for being as fundamentally unsound as possible.

I never claimed to be a reasonable person. There are only so many days I can say that the A's offense is in a slump and they'll be okay. Tonight is not that night, so if you want encouragement, maybe try tomorrow.

This recap could alternative be titled: [Expletive] the bunt. You know what the problem is when you don't use the sacrifice bunt? You end up bunting (TWICE!) and failing (TWICE!) in key situations with the same player, who has proven in every way possible that HE. CAN'T. BUNT. But you dutifully bunt him anyway, even after his first epic fail, and he fails again, because he is a hitter, not a bunter. And you lose the game. But you didn't lose on the bunt.

You didn't even lose on the robbed-home run again on a ball hit by Chris Young. Sure, it would have won this game, but it still would have disguised the real problem, which is that this offense has been horrific for more than a month. You have Josh Donaldson swinging off-balance and falling down on every pitch. You have Seth Smith swinging into the ground on every pitch. And when you desperately, desperately need a baserunner? Josh Reddick swings 3-0 and weakly grounds out to the infield. Eric Sogard is your best hitter. And you have a positive gem wasted by Jarrod Parker tonight, who threw eight plus innings of one-run ball, and lost because the A's are a fundamentally terrible baseball team. Forget the Division race. The way this team is playing, the playoffs are sounding like a long-shot.

I don't even know where to start. I'm still so frustrated I can't see straight. The A's screwed up this game in every way possible, and they absolutely deserved to lose. That doesn't mean it's any easier to swallow the loss. Jarrod Parker threw 8.1 innings, allowing only a solo homerun to Chris Carter in the seventh, and he's nothing more than a hard-luck no-decision, who watched the painful loss from the clubhouse. And on a night where Stephen Vogt threw out two runners at second, he also deserved a better fate. And Eric Sogard with his two lead-off doubles? He never scored. He also deserved better. Everyone else, boy oh boy, and I include Angel Hernandez in that, who I'm shocked still has a job, unless his job is to be the worst umpire in the history of Major League Baseball, and with a fabulous personality to boot.

The A's had seven lousy hits against the Astros, and eked out one lousy run. One. Run. Texas, who increased their lead to 2 games with a comeback against the Brewers, should be feeling pretty good right now. If that's the opposite of what I'm feeling, anyway. The A's couldn't put together a rally until the seventh inning (well, one that wasn't killed by a double-play, anyway), and even though the A's tied the game at 1, they already lost the game by their complete inability to score the second run from second. With no out out. Cespedes singled to open the seventh inning, and Moss doubled him in, partially thanks to the Houston outfield, who threw to second instead of their cutoff man for the relay. Props to Gallego for sending him home, otherwise he too, would have died at third with two outs. Donaldson, bending his back foot, and falling down again, hit a comebacker, failing to advance the runner. Vogt struck out, and Young flied out. And the A's scored a run, but wasted another.

It should have been a sign. The eighth inning was worse. After Eric Sogard doubled to start the inning, Callaspo was asked to bunt, apparently for the first time ever. He held the bat in a "bunting" stance and I screamed, "DEAR GOD NO, LET HIM HIT!". But he failed on two bunts, and eventually hit a comebacker to not advance the runner. Freiman pinch-hit for Smith (yay), and flew out deep to center. Ignoring the obvious, like you cannot, cannot CANNOT make the third out of an inning at third base, Sogard tagged up, was safe, but was called out. Bob Melvin lost his mind, and was tossed and the inning ended.

Our 3-4-5 hitters went meekly into the good night in the ninth inning, because of the stupidest baseball play I've ever seen. All you need to get the inning started is a baserunner. Josh Reddick, with nobody out, works a 3-0 count, and for reasons I cannot fathom, swings 3-0 and weakly ground out on the infield. Two outs? Sure, he's a homerun hitter. But to give up a baserunner? This team has got to learn that can't just hit the big homerun and win the game. This game is won on baserunners and they sure didn't protect them tonight. For the first two outs of the tenth, more of the same, but then Chris Young, AGAIN hit a homerun. This one wasn't foul, but it was caught over the fence. By Houston. He stood in absolute shell-shock, as if to say, what the hell happened to any sort of Oakland magic, and just like that, you kind of knew the game was over.

Of course, Doolittle throwing approximately 20 fastballs in a row without mixing in any kind of an off-speed pitch helped the Astros to their second--and winning--run, so that was also a treat in the 11th, and the A's had the comeback in their pocket, and blew it.

Eric Sogard led off the inning with another double, as he did his best to single-handedly win the game, bringing up Callaspo. I swear, I pinch hit a pitcher to bunt OR I TELL CALLASPO TO JUST SWING AWAY! After what I saw the last at-bat, he does not bunt again, right!? He bunted again. And he popped it up to the pitcher, stranding Sogard on second. Jed Lowrie pinch-hit, and was obviously playing Candy Crush in the clubhouse instead of watching the ridiculously unique strike zone by Hernandez, because he struck out on a pitch that may not have been strike 3 in the real, non-crappy-umpire league, but certainly was in tonight's game. And then Reddick struck out, and the game was officially over.

And shockingly, I feel better now.

If you like torture, doom and gloom, tune in to tomorrow's game at 12:35, where the A's will try to win one game in the Astros' series! Bedard against Sonny Gray. Consider this my clubhouse fired-up talk. They'll win tomorrow.

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