Game #122: Oakland Loses 7-1, Coliseum Burns

Josh Donaldson applies the tag on Drew Stubbs, after not needing to move his glove to receive the throw on a line from Josh Reddick in medium-deep right field. - Thearon W. Henderson

The A's fall to Cleveland in one of their most uninspiring offensive efforts of the season.

There's not much to write about tonight, and it's very late, so here's what  you need (but probably don't want) to know about tonight's game:

Despite receiving seven free passes (six walks and a hit by pitch), the A's failed entirely to capitalize. As a matter of fact, Oakland was no-hit by Cleveland's Ubaldo Jimenez through 5.2 innings, before a Josh Donaldson single drove in the only A's run of the night. The final score was 7-1, but that's not representative of the fact that this was actually a very competitive game until the 9th inning.

The A's fell behind early, but given their offensive struggles, it may not have mattered. A Nick Swisher solo shot gave the Indians their first run of the game in the first inning, and they'd nurse a 2-0 lead through the first six innings, when they'd extend it to 3-0 before Donaldson's RBI single. Dan Straily's command was iffy and he got hit hard in general, but ended up with a decent outing overshadowed by the A's haplessness at the plate. His final line was 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 7 K.

The A's offense was so bad, as a matter of fact, that rioters decided to torch cars in the Coliseum parking lot in protest, resulting in a giant column of black smoke rising up from the north side of the venue during the fourth inning. Think I made that up? I did, but only the part about the rioters. A car actually caught fire (picture) and was at one point fully engulfed in intense flames. I'd imagine that the car on fire in the picture was completely destroyed, and four other cars were also damaged.

While we're talking about unauthorized fires in the Coliseum parking lots, it's worth mentioning that somebody set off at least two very large and loud fireworks during the ninth inning, one of which went off during Derek Norris' at bat in the bottom of the frame. A lot of people probably thought that they were gunshots, and the parking lot fire had already created a somewhat uneasy air at the Coliseum — this only compounded it. So whoever was doing that sucks.

Now, the positives: the A's made two absolutely outstanding defensive plays tonight. The first came in the fifth inning, which had begun with a Drew Stubbs line drive double to left field. That brought up Michael Bourn, who hit a sharp line drive that Josh Reddick needed only a few steps to get to in right field. Stubbs tried to tag up, and despite Reddick's reputation as having one of the best long-distance arms in the game, it probably didn't even occur to him that he'd get thrown out.

But Reddick made far and away the best throw I've ever witnessed in person at a baseball game. Words don't do it justice — seriously, watch the replay (link). But Reddick took a few steps to his left, caught the ball, and in one fluid motion launched a missile to third base that Josh Donaldson didn't even need to move his glove to catch. He didn't move his glove at all. Seriously, Donaldson didn't really have to tag Stubbs, because he caught the ball six inches in front of the bag and six inches above the ground — basically, where you'd put your glove to tag a runner anyway. Unbelievable. Hopefully the lack of big-time power numbers in 2013 don't cost Reddick a chance at a repeat Gold Glove Award, because he'd proven that the defensive abilities he showcased last year have gone absolutely nowhere.

The second unbelievable play was a little more...well, believable. But it was amazing nonetheless. In the top of the 8th, Carlos Santana (I can't get over his name either) hit a line drive right up the middle that, with no shift, goes for a base hit 100% of the time. But the infield was shifted over the the right side for the left-handed hitter, and Eric Sogard, playing 10 feet to the first base side of second, made an unbelievable diving catch, launching himself into the air and laying out horizontally, fully outstretched, to snare the liner. He got a standing ovation for that one, and big cheers for the subsequent pop-up he caught in front of the tarp in foul territory the left field corner, and another standing ovation when he leaped, fully outstretched, and climbed the ladder from his normal position at shortstop to snag Asdrubal Cabrera's liner. If you were at this game, you witnessed history — Eric Sogard tied the age-old record for putouts in an inning. Good stuff.

Another encouraging sign for A's fans was Coco Crisp's surprise, pinch-hit appearance in the 8th inning. He came up with two outs and actually represented the tying run, as the score at the time was 4-1. Even though Coco hit a pop-up, it was good to see him back in action, especially since Bob Melvin had indicated that he wouldn't be available until Monday at the earliest.

It's always too bad when the A's can't get anything going in front of a boisterous, sellout crowd. Even though much of tonight's gathering of 35,067 may have showed up at least partially for the Yoenis Cespedes bobblehead, the energy in the crowd was good throughout the ballgame. Even though it probably won't be quite as full tomorrow, the A's will get another shot, with Tommy Milone on the hill after a few weeks pitching for Sacramento. Nico will have your game thread, as the A's go for the series win at 1:05pm.

PS - Don't be mad at me for the obscenely late recap! I just got home, saw that there was nothing up, and thought I'd write something brief.

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