Before we get to the crazy game recap, I have a list of immediate complaints. (I’ll spare you the suspense; the A’s lost again--and despite scoring seven runs, did nothing for their batting averages. They scored seven runs off CC Sabathia, and couldn’t score another for seven innings, just waited for the Yankees to end the game.)
- You are really telling me that it’s worse to play Travis Buck against a lefty than to put a player who doesn’t play the position at first base? How bad can Travis Buck possibly BE if he has been upstaged this season by a) Rajai Davis (who would “bat” for Cust in the twelfth) b) Powell out of position (the A’s would pay for it on two plays today). Why not just play Giambi at first and Buck in the outfield? Powell had a couple of walks and no hits on the day. I think Buck could have managed that. Not to mention the added bonus of Cust being the DH instead of RF. The game would end with Buck on the bench; he wouldn’t even get in for an at-bat. Unless he’s hurt, this is ridiculous, and has me questioning the managing.
- And at some point, if your bench is thin and you have to rest players (Chavez can’t play every day, and Giambi can’t play the field every day), and you have ninety gazillion LHP’s to face, you have to put hurt players on the DL and make a call-up. Nomar either needs to play, or needs to be replaced.
- You also aren’t going to win many games when your 1/2 hitters can’t get on base. Despite a couple of late hits, Ryan Sweeney and Orlando Cabrera are struggling, and if you really want to set the table for your (debatable right now) power hitters, you must have someone at the top of the lineup to get on base. Of course it might help if Giambi doesn’t throw up an 0-6 on the day, either.
- And here’s the thing about the sacrifice bunt. When the first two runners reach, in oh, say, the seventh inning, and Orlando Cabrera--struggling mightily--is up, that’s not a bad call. He’s having trouble getting a hit right now and he’s a DP candidate, but he can bunt, and pulled it off successfully. The A’s would later score both of the runs. However, when the go-ahead run is on base with no one out in, oh, say, the eighth inning, and one of your few players who is actually hitting--Mark Ellis--is up to bat, why waste his at-bat on a sacrifice bunt? The runner is in scoring position, true, but now the run depends on Landon Powell or Bobby Crosby getting a hit instead of just some contact. Not surprisingly, the A’s didn’t score in that inning. Let’s look at one more example: When the go-ahead run is on base with no one out in, oh, say, the eleventh inning, and Cabrera is up again, I could see another bunt to move the runner into scoring position for Giambi and Holliday (not Powell and Crosby). I could also see the hit-and-run to stay out of the double-play, which is what Geren chose to do, but like everything else lately, it just didn’t work. Cabrera failed to make contact, and the runner was thrown out.
The A’s can’t quite seem to put pitching and hitting together in the same outing; if one is there, the other one isn’t. That even goes for the same game. Today, innings 1-7 was all offense, no pitching; and innings 8-14 were all pitching, no offense. On a rainy New York day, the A’s offense managed to put seven on the board by the seventh, but Anderson could not manage a shutdown inning when needed; he allowed the Yankees five runs in his five plus innings, and Wuertz blew up in his inning, allowing two of his own. The rest of the bullpen would keep the Yankees off the board for six innings, before the inevitable walk-off. By the time the game ended, it was more of a mercy loss; there’s only so many innings you can watch your entire team get out, when you likely just need one run to win the game.
The A’s started the scoring in the second inning today, plating as many runs in the inning than in any game this week. After a walk to Holliday and a single by Cust, Suzuki homered; it was reviewed, the A’s got the call, and would lead the game 3-0.
Brett Anderson, who would not be the same pitcher as he was last week, gave most of the lead right back, giving up two solo bombs to Matsui and (Melky) Cabrera in the bottom of the inning.
The A’s would pick up another run after Giambi reached base on an error in the third, Holliday singled him around to third, and he would score as Jeter chose to throw home to a missing Posada (he was covering first) instead of completing the double play.
The Yankees would tie the game in the bottom of the third, as Anderson continued to struggle, and they would take the lead in the fourth on a homerun by Derek Jeter.
The A’s would come back.
After Cust walked with one out, a groundout by Suzuki moved him to second, and a clutch 2-out hit by Mark Ellis drove him in to tie the game. But as would be the trend for this frustrating game, the tie wouldn’t last long. Anderson opened the inning with an out and a walk, and then would be pulled in favor of Wuertz. In what would end up being an important run at the time, Suzuki got the runner at second with a perfect throw. With two outs, the A’s looked to be in good shape, but Wuertz fell apart; allowing two runs on a ringing double, a hustling double, and a single; giving the Yankees a 7-5 lead.
The A’s would come back.
The seventh opened with a leadoff single by Crosby and a walk by Sweeney. Cabrera bunted them over, and Giambi got a bad-hop on his ball, or he would have driven both runners in. He got one in, closing the gap to 1. Luckily, Holliday picked him up, and tied the game on a single of his own.
The seesaw game looked to continue in the seventh, as Russ Springer loaded the bases with no one out, but he managed to get out of the huge jam by retiring the next three batters. Amazing work, and it would turn the pitching around. Bailey, Ziegler, Outman, and Giese wouldn’t allow anything else until the fourteenth. By that time, you have to figure that if the A’s were going to score again, they would have done it.
The Yankees used Rivera in the ninth inning, and Cabrera broke his 0-18 streak with a single, but that’s all they would get. The A’s would counter Rivera with their own closer; Ziegler walked the leadoff hitter, but got the DP and a K, and the game went to bonus baseball.
The A’s wasted a golden chance to score in the tenth, as Cust worked a leadoff walk and was replaced by Rajai Davis, who did a beautiful job of stealing second base, not even drawing a throw. But Suzuki (who has been hitting well) was unable to move him to third; striking out on a bad pitch. The lack of baserunning execution is just killing the team. Ellis would follow with a perfectly serviceable sacrifice fly, with no one on third to score. Powell would walk to put runners on 1st and 3rd, but Crosby would get out. Again.
Ziegler would get his nemesis Teixeira to end the tenth inning, and we would move on.
Sweeney opened the eleventh with a single, but was thrown out on Cabrera’s botched hit-and-run. Outman would close out the eleventh with minimal drama, and we would move to the twelfth. The A’s got out in approximately five seconds, and Dan Giese would come in. He would get out of that inning, but after the A’s went just as quickly in the thirteenth, he had to face the heart of the order in the bottom of the inning. He managed to get out of that inning, as well, but couldn’t walk the tightrope forever; after the A’s went 1, 2, 3 in the top of the fourteenth, Giese finally surrendered the walk-off.
So the A’s head home after an absolutely abysmal road trip. They have every chance in the world to compete in the AL West, and they are being out-hit, out-managed, and just flat-out look terrible right now.
We can hope for a rebound at home; Cahill takes the mound on Friday night.