Any hope that the Athletics would break out of their post-Cleveland offensive funk died with R.A. Dickey's impressive performance with the roof open at Rogers Centre. Combined with several defensive lapses not helped by today's short bench, the A's dropped the second game of the series 5-2.
Melky Cabrera mesmerizes the defense
Jesse Chavez had a strange defense behind him. Eric Sogard started at shortstop for the first time this season, with Nick Punto and Jed Lowrie dealing with injuries. Alberto Callaspo started at second base for the second time. John Jaso also could not start for the second day in a row due to back tightness, and so Craig Gentry was forced into the game, this time in left field, so Cespedes could DH.
Melky Cabrera was at the plate for three of Oakland's defensive whoopsies.
In the third, with Anthony Gose on first and running, Melky Cabrera hit a routine single to left. Gose should have just gotten to third, but Gentry booted the ball in left field. Gentry still had a chance to get Gose at the plate, but he completely overthrew Norris.
In the fifth, Jose Reyes and Anthony Gose stood at second and third, respectively. Melky Cabrera grounded a one-out dribbler to Moss. Moss booted the ball, bobbled his initial recovery, and could not toss to Chavez in time to get Cabrera. Meanwhile, Gose was going to score anyway, but Jose Reyes was able to come in during all the confusion, and so two runs scored instead of one.
In the seventh, Jose Reyes led off with a double. With Reyes running, Melky Cabrera hit a grounder to Sogard. Reyes was watching for Sogard to look him back to third, but Sogard didn't so much as glance back as he double-clutched and threw to first to get Cabrera. Reyes kept on running and Moss' throw home was too late to stop the two-base RBI groundout.
R.A. Dickey started the game with full command of his knuckleball. He recorded 25 outs, and only three went to the outfield. The A's never had much chance of working the count, and Dickey survived 113 pitches before being pulled in the ninth.
Cespedes a double short of the cycle
Yoenis Cespedes was the only one that had R.A. Dickey figured out. Cespedes launched a solo home run to dead center for the A's first hit of the game to take an initial 1-0 lead. In the fourth, Cespedes tripled with two outs, and the #cyclewatch began, but Reddick stranded him by grounding to second. Cespy's seventh-inning strikeout broke up his cycle effort, but his single in the ninth left him just a double short. Representing half of the A's six hits, Cespy's 3-for-4 day is a bright spot on an otherwise tough day for the Athletics.
Anything almost happened
With the A's down 5-1 heading into the ninth, I said, "Anything could happen." Josh Donaldson walked with one out to keep alive his regular season road on-base streak, which now stands at 29 games going back to September 28. Brandon Moss singled to move Donaldson to second and end Dickey's day. Yoenis Cespedes stood in against Dustin McGowan, and he singled to move the Green and Gold up another 90 feet and load the bases.
The Blue Jays called in left-handed Brett Cecil to force Josh Reddick out of the game, and the A's put Jed Lowrie in to try to become the pinch-hit hero. Lowrie hit it deep, but straight to center and too short for a game-tying grand slam. A meaningless run scored and Alberto Callaspo now represented the tying run. Callaspo worked the count to 3-and-2, but the game ended with a Ken Korach "swung on and missed." A's 2, Blue Jays 5.
And now my final thought
Three games represents the A's longest losing streak, the third time the A's have done that this year. Banged up, error-filled, and offense quiet, the A's still managed to bring the tying run to the plate at the final out. As Billy Frijoles said in the game thread, "I'm . . . trying to prepare myself for the potential that we won't be sweeping teams left and right. Looking at it as a totality, if we can go at least a few games over .500 that would be awesome."
Taking one out of three on the road against the leader in the AL East is not the worst outcome, and even a loss tomorrow still means a winning road trip against three teams thought to be in the postseason race at the start of this year. And if it doesn't happen, the A's will just have to get them back when they come to the Coliseum for the Fourth of July weekend.
The A's look to salvage one tomorrow beginning at 10:07 am Pacific Time behind Drew Pomeranz's fourth start; he is 4-1 with a 0.94 ERA. J.A. Happ (3-1, 4.37) pitches for the Blue Jays. You'll have me on your game thread tomorrow as well. Until then!