When an opponent's starting pitcher goes down with an injury early in a game, it usually signals opportunity. When the reliever who follows him to the mound implodes and gives up three runs on a bases clearing double, giving you a three-run lead, it usually signals a bigger opportunity. But for this team, and this pitcher, it apparently meant an opportunity to promptly give up the lead, and eventually the game.
Tonight's game had its dramatics. Cust absolutely crushed a bomb in the second, putting the A's up early, and Jack Hannahan made a bigger on-field tackle than any Raider did at the Coliseum this past year, scoring the third run on Donnie Murphy's double to left field. But the lead only lasted minutes.
All year long, Joe Blanton has seemingly done enough to lose. There's always been "one bad inning". Sometimes it's the sixth. Sometimes it's the fourth. Tonight, it was the fifth inning. Blanton's Jekyll and Hyde impersonation even went one more inning, when he set the Mariners down 1-2-3, as if to remind us that he could do so, whenever he felt like it.
So now, he leaves the game with a record of 5-12, becoming the major league's first twelve-time loser. Now, when somebody says "12 game loser for the A's", I tend to think of Dave Stewart's 21-12 season in 1988... but something tells me there isn't all that much else similar between the two this year. Blanton and his one bad inning undid the other eight, and it still counts as one whole loss, not just a ninth of one.