Well, in true Athletics’ fashion, the A’s broke up Cleveland’s impressive scoreless innings streak in the second inning, not with a towering homerun, not with a solid single, but rather with a Cleveland error. Seven innings later, they scored another run on a passed ball. Oh well, if someone would like to give us runs, we’re not above accepting them. Lord knows we’re not going to score them ourselves.
After falling behind 1-0, the A’s opened the second inning with singles by Crosby and Hannahan, but after the promising start, Murphy (who was swinging away) failed to advance the runners in his at-bat, getting Bowen up with one out. Bowen hit a weak ground ball, which was thrown away for the A’s first run, but Davis hit into a fielder’s choice and was thrown out stealing to end the inning. Ouch. That was just about the extent of the A’s threat on the day; sadly, it was more offense than the previous two days combined.
Greg Smith danced around runners all day; after the A’s tied the game at one, he promptly gave the lead right back to Cleveland, hitting and walking the first two batters to lead off the third (both scored). Smith was lucky to get out of the third with only the two runs scoring; he was helped immensely by a diving catch by Cust, and the decision to swing on 3-0 by the Indians’ back-up catcher.
Smith ended up in a world of trouble the very next inning, with runners on the corners and no one out, but he did what he does best, and picked off a runner to help himself out, ultimately getting out of the inning unscored upon.
You would think this would fire up the offense, but you’d be wrong. The A’s offense in this series; quite frankly, was disgusting, none more so than a struggling Daric Barton, who just looks lost at the plate. Between his golden sombrero, Suzuki’s 0 for 100,000 streak and Davis’ spotty leadoff hitting (he singled for his first hit in the eighth today), the top of the lineup is not doing a lot of table-setting for the two A’s that recorded multiple hits; Frank Thomas, who singled twice and walked once today, and Bobby Crosby (two singles), but unless they could have turned all of their hits into homerun power, their efforts were wasted.
On the other side of the mound, Smith got into trouble yet again in the fifth, with runners at second and third and one out, but somehow Houdini’d his way to the second out. By this time, Geren had seen enough, and yanked Smith in favor of Devine for the third out (obtained on a nasty strikeout), obviously trying to salvage the game if possible. Devine would go on to pitch the sixth also, flashing his filthy stuff; begging the obvious question: Can he hit?
As if the lack of hope in any future offense wasn’t bad enough, true disaster struck in the seventh as Casilla served up a homerun ball and refused to get back on the mound, taking his injured arm, and the A’s best bullpen threat with him. I’m no expert, but I sincerely doubt this is a day-to-day thing, even with the A’s shady injury reports. With the club going into a National League park this weekend, I would not be surprised if the A’s make an immediate move.
And what amounts to nothing more than a footnote in this nightmare game, the A’s made it semi-interesting in the 9th (this assuming that you actually thought they could get a hit with RISP); loading the bases and knocking out Betancourt with one out, but pinch-hitters Sweeney, M and Sweeney, R both struck out after the Indians gifted the A's another token run, which was pretty much the perfect ending for what was basically the worse A’s game played in quite some time; certainly this season.
I’m not going to say anything negative about Greg Smith today; the fault is 100% on the offense. Although Smith was hit around a bit, he allowed only three runs, which is kind of amazing, considering he has been pitching without any run support for his last FOUR starts! That’s got to be frustrating for a pitcher; knowing that if you allow a single run, you’re going to automatically lose. It’s certainly frustrating for fans (see: today’s, yesterdays, and Tuesday’s game threads).
If your offense can’t get it together to score a run, you don’t deserve to win any games, and that is exactly what the A’s deserved (and got) in Cleveland: nothing. It’s no mystery as to why; they do not score if they do not walk, and Cleveland handled the strike zone perfectly throughout the series. Not to mention, with the notable exception of the errors that led to the A’s lone runs, the Indians also played solid defense.
The A’s (and their fans) would be best-served to forget this entire series, and start again fresh in Atlanta, which they have the chance to do tomorrow at 4:35. I have to believe it can only get better from here.
(ahem) In what is possibly the worst timed event spiel ever from a marketing perspective, I want to get a count of people who are in for a ticket to the great AN Tailgate of 2008! It will be held before the game on July 12, against the Angels (6:05 start). The normal seats are $30; we are getting them for $21 (includes S/H fees). Please vote below.