Final Score: Brewers 4, A's 2
The A's 4-2 loss to the Brewers today, and Eveland's less than stellar line (7IP, 4 ER), came down to one pitch. With the game tied 1-1 in the 3rd Eveland, who had been in trouble throughout, and was in trouble again, all because he wasn't throwing enough strikes, gave in to J.J. Hardy and watched Hardy launch a 3-run HR. In the dugout Trevor Cahill, who had watched Scott Hairston's 3-run HR turn a wobbly outing into a bad one last night, could undoubtedly relate.
The lesson here for these pitchers who rely on ground balls is that walks are bad and HRs are worse. Ray Fosse made a great point last night about the 4-seam fastball Cahill likely threw to Hairston, trying to add velocity and maybe sacrifice movement in order to throw a strike. When they get in trouble, young pitchers tend to want to throw harder. Yet often it is the pitcher's ability to sink the ball that can get them out of a jam, and when the count is 3-1 if they go "softer" with the good sinking fastball they can use the hitter's aggressiveness against them. If they go harder with the "ok now I really have to throw a strike" fastball, well...I think by now we all know what happens.
The moral of the story is that it's best not to get two runners on and it's best not to go to a 3-1 count. But if you do, it is not the time to "give in" - it's a time to realize that there are worse things than loading the bases when you are always one pitch away from getting out of the jam.
This is why Cahill might benefit from more time in the minors. It's not that he will suddenly learn control/command, it's that experience tells you what to do and what not to do in these situations. If the A's open the season with Cahill, Eveland et al in the rotation, these lessons will be learned in real time on a big league diamond. And if it takes 10 losses in a row in the Cactus League for these lessons to sink in now, it is well worth it.
The good news is that Eveland really settled down and turned in 7 IP that were actually pretty decent overall. The A's scored in the 1st and 9th, first on a Crosby single and SB followed by a Jack Hannahan RBI single, and last on a Sean Doolittle absolute bomb that should land any moment. Santiago Casilla pitched a scoreless 8th to lower his Spring ERA to 1.23.