Game #29: Bad Bullpen, Unlucky Offense As Boston Slams A's

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Well, good thing it's Friday night and there are drinks to forget this one!

The 2014 Oakland Athletics don't get run out of the building very often. So far this young season, they have been in every single game they have played until now. Even in losses, the A's almost always brought at least the tying run to the plate; the large majority of their losses were by 1 or 2 runs, with only a single 3-run loss, and a single 4-run loss. The A's lost this game 7-1, and let's be honest; they probably should have lost it 20-0. The Red Sox had so many runners all over the bases that I thought the little squares in the top bar of the telecast were supposed to be permanently yellow. And the A's didn't really bother to score any of their base runners; their lone run came on a wild pitch by Boston.

Dan Straily drove the struggle bus right out of the gate early tonight, barely pitching into the fifth inning before he was yanked. Luckily for him, most of his pitches were hit for warning track power, save for the second inning, and he was bailed out in a big way by the best arm in the bullpen to escape with just two total runs on his line.

Despite being in trouble more often than not, the only inning Boston scored on him was the second. Straily was tagged for a leadoff double by Sizemore, and with one out, and the runner still on second, Pierzynski singled, and unfortunately, a diving Josh Donaldson got a glove on the ball, which deflected it enough for the runner to score. After Straily got the strikeout for the second out, he allowed another double to score the second run of the game for the Red Sox.

Meanwhile, A's got their first hit of the game in the top of the second inning, as Cespedes doubled with one out and was left stranded, in what would be a reoccurring theme on the night. The A's certainly put up their share of base runners, and even managed to hit the ball hard quite a few times, but with a combination of bad luck, poor base running, and sheer spite by the baseball gods, absolutely nothing would go their way tonight. That was compounded by a complete bullpen meltdown by Otero and Cook, all leading up to a grand slam, sandwiched in between 7 walks, and I think it's safe to say it just wasn't the A's best night.

The A's would get a run back in the third inning--their lone run on the night--but that one was credited completely to the Red Sox, as the A's continued their masterful effort at stranding runners. Jaso started the third inning off with a leadoff triple, but Sogard was called out on strikes, and Crisp flew out; too shallow to score the run. Jed Lowrie would also fly out, but luckily for the A's, Buchholz uncorcked a wild pitch during Lowrie's at-bat, and the run scored despite the A's best efforts.

The A's would put two more runners on in the fifth, thanks to an error by the pitcher and a Jaso single (who had a perfect night from the plate in the losing effort), but they were unable to tie the game as Sogard and Crisp stranded the runners again.

Boston threatened to break open the 2-1 game in the fifth with a leadoff walk and a double put runners at second and third with no one out, but Straily got a shallow fly ball for the first out, and was promptly replaced by Fernando Abad, who did nothing but strike out David Ortiz, issue an intentional walk, and then strike out Grady Sizemore in impressive fashion, to leave the bases loaded and the game in reach.

Just for funsies, the A's would put another two runners on in the sixth on a Donaldson walk and an intentional Cespedes walk, but it was Callaspo's turn to strand the runners.  

Nico has a saying about the hot bullpen arm; sometimes you want to keep the successful pitcher in, because when you are using 3-4 pitchers out of a bullpen, it only takes one to have an off day to undo all of the hard work of the other arms. For instance, once Melvin used Abad for his usual blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance, throwing just 17 pitches, all of them awesome, and replaced him with Otero and Cook, it took all of one half inning to ruin the game. Otero opened the sixth with back-to-back singles before getting a strikeout for the first out. He then walked the bases loaded, and Melvin gave him the quick hook in favor of Ryan Cook.

Who promptly gave up a grand slam, and put the A's down the insurmountable 5 runs.

Not that the A's wouldn't tease, of course. A walk to Jaso in the seventh put another runner on to strand, but their eighth inning was an epic failure. Back to back singles by Lowrie and Donaldson put the first two runners on for the A's, and Moss missed a double down the line by a fraction of an inch; instead the ball was caught by the first baseman. Then Cespedes nearly hit a three-run home run, and Josh Donaldson, perhaps thinking he was the tying run; I have no idea what else he was doing, was doubled off to end the inning.

Pomeranz allowed one additional Boston run in his 2+ innings, to stretch the score to 7-1, and despite a leadoff walk to Callaspo, and a Norris pinch-hitting spot, the game ended with Punto striking out, which is an entirely different problem.

Let this one go and regroup for tomorrow morning, where we have your morning baseball starting at 10:00AM. We'll have all of the action back here!

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