This recap is coming at you around one AM -- three plus hours after the A's walked off versus the Nationals. Partially, this is because I'm a procrastinating jerkface. But that's also because I had a recap written around the 7th inning of this contest -- one about how bad the offense looked, about how Sonny Gray can't pitch us out of every single one of our offensive doldrums, and general misery like that. It just seemed like the kind of predictable boring loss that occasionally happens to good teams.
Luckily, I ended up learning never to write recaps before the game was over.
So, this is really the story of two games: one, in which marginal fifth starter Tanner Roark two hits us en route to one of the best starts of his career. Considering the exact same thing happened to our marginal fifth starter, Tommy Milone, last night, I'm not too worried about it. He looked really good, was hitting his spots well. The A's did hit balls well, but right at fielders. So it goes.
The only flaw in his performance was really John Jaso's third inning home run. Because John Jaso is the best. Remember those rumors that he might get dealt for a starter? I like to think he heard those rumors and, in the immortal words of Daric Barton, set out to prove the doubters wrong tonight.
Sonny Gray was... okay. He wasn't good, but still went seven innings with three earned runs, continuing his perfect run of quality starts this season. Here's a bit of pessimism to bring us down after a great game: what happened to Sonny Gray's strikeouts? I'm literally drawing conclusions from three games, but here are his strikeout numbers over those games: 6K over 9 IP, 3K over 6 IP, 3K over 7 IP. That's definitely not elite, and I absolutely love my strikeouts. He's looked very hittable lately, or at least contactable. But again, I am drawing conclusions about three starts for the sole purpose of being negative after an awesome game. Because I am a jerk.
Anyway, he looked more hittable than ever in the third inning of this contest, surrendering 3 runs after four straight hits. A testament to Sonny's great makeup is the extent he could settle down after that forgettable inning, pitching four more strong inning en route to a good final line.
The second game was the fun one: the hit parade in the ninth and tenth innings. Rafael Soriano had come into the game with a 25 inning scoreless streak, and we proceeded to pummel that streak into the ground. The rally was sparked by a John Jaso (who else?) single, followed by a Jed Lowrie double. And boy, did he need that -- Lowrie was in the middle of a bad slump. Luckily his awesome walk-taking ability did not slump, or else that would've been painful.
Then, Josh Donaldson singled to left and weirdness ensued. It was hit so hard that Nats LF Zach Walters had time to throw out Lowrie trying to score from second, and he might've... had Soriano not made the most ill-advised cut off play in the history of baseball. Okay, exaggeration, but it was really bad. Really bad. Walters made a strong thrown, on line to catcher Wilson Ramos, and well ahead of the runner. And Soriano just reached down and cut it off, for a reason. Bizarre, but awesome.
Meanwhile, Sean Doolittle continued the trend of relief pitching excellence we've seen lately. Two innings, three Ks, no hits, no runs, no walks. Still no walks -- Doolittle hasn't given up a walk in 31 innings.
Also, sidenote lest you think I'm crazy for complaining about Gray's lack of strikeouts: Doolittle got as many Ks in two innings as Gray got in 7. Yikes.
Anyway, Doolittle shut the door and, after an Alberto Callaspo single (another hitter who emerged from a Slumpy McSlumpSlump tonight), John Jaso hit a ringing, ridiculously long double high off the wall in right. And the second game was over, and was awesome.
The A's will go for the sweep versus old friend Gio Gonzalez tomorrow afternoon, 1:05 PM.
Also, John Jaso is ridiculously attractive. Just putting that out there.