As JJ points out in the initial game thread, a long time ago; the first inning, which was Anderson’s early undoing in tonight’s game, should have been a 7 pitch, 0 run inning. Instead, it turned into a 32 pitch, 5 run inning, thanks to not one, but two two-out errors courtesy of Giambi and Crosby. In other words, Anderson got out of the inning TWICE, and still couldn’t stop pitching.
It’s one thing to have trouble scoring runs. The A’s are fielding a team of below-average hitters. But it’s entirely another to botch routine plays on defense, especially behind a rookie pitcher, who has consistently had trouble settling down and avoiding the big inning. Giambi missed catching a routine throw at first and Crosby missed a routine ground ball--either play would have ended the first inning--and Anderson was unable to get the fifth “out” of the inning. He gave up an infield single for the Tigers’ first run, and then things got really ugly. Anderson hit the next batter to load the bases, and then grooved a pitch that was hit out for a grand slam. The Tigers were up by 5 before most people realized the game was out of the rain delay.
The errors just kept on coming. Kennedy added an E4 in the second inning (Anderson got of the inning), but the third looked a lot like the first. Cabrera botched a double play ball--to complete the infield error hat trick--that would have ended the inning, but he didn’t even get an out; and because of the “not assuming a double play” rule, Anderson was charged with his first earned run on the play. A second mishandled double play attempt scored the Tigers 7th run.
This does bring up an issue with the whole ‘earned run’ statistic. Yes, I lay the blame on Giambi for the error at first (Crosby is playing out of position, waiting for the return of basically an invisible player; more on that later), but as a pitcher, you will have nights like that. The field is wet; your team isn’t very good, but you won’t be long for the league if you give up that number of additional runs. I have never understood the logic of a homerun not counting as an earned run, but on the flip side, everyone in the ballpark knew the third inning was over with the sure-DP ball handed to Cabrera; yet he botched that, and the run that scored on the play was earned. Tonight’s game was a perfect example of why ERA is a pretty lousy measurement of a pitcher; Anderson grooved a grand-slam ball for unearned runs; yet was charged with a run on a perfect-pitch ground ball double play.
On the other side of the game; it was a tight race between hits and errors for the A’s offense through the first four innings, but the offense finally prevailed; chalking up five hits to best their error total of four.
They got two hits in the first inning by Suzuki and Holliday--who both had multiple hit games, but didn’t score. They would put a token run on the board in the fourth on a leadoff double by Holliday and a two-out single by Kennedy to cut the score to 9-1. Crosby left the game in the top of the fourth with an upset stomach, and was replaced by Hannahan. I know just how he feels. This game was brutal.
It’s hard to sort out where the defense ended and Anderson started, but both were awful tonight. After the initial hour delay-of-game, Anderson was hit hard, and often, but could the outcome have been different if he had either some offensive or defensive support? And not to excuse anyone, but it was a wet and messy night; I’m not sure Anderson ever really felt comfortable on the mound, and certainly not with the team behind him. He lasted until the fourth inning, where the rain started pouring down as his pitchers were hit all over the ballpark. He was replaced by Dan Giese, who tried his best to prolong the game, and induce the rain delay, but the Tigers were probably (smartly) instructed to swing at anything. The game went into rain delay only three outs shy of an “official” game, but to the dismay of everyone who is either on, or roots for, the green and gold, it restarted about an hour later. I’m sure the Tigers had no intention of leaving the ballpark until the game was official. I wouldn’t have.
Giese and Edwin Jackson both stayed in the ballgame after the rain delay. Giese pretend to pitch for an inning, and then gave up a grand slam; the second one of the night. Yes, really.
The A’s managed to get all of two hits the rest of the way. We had a Ziggy sighting in the eighth; leadoff hit, and a two-out RBI single.
I don’t have anything else to say about the game, but I do want to point out today’s piece from the Mercury News, entitled, A’s Must Move On From Chavez.
The money quote from Billy Beane says:
"I think at some point you have to be realistic," Beane, the A's general manager, said over the phone Thursday afternoon. "We love Eric. We invested quite a bit of money in him. Not only that, we've invested opportunity cost, since we certainly planned that he was going to be our third baseman for six years.
"But Eric's not out there."... What we've had the last couple years is a big hole over there."
And you still have a big hole over there. No offense to Bobby Crosby, but when it is mid-May and you have to resort to playing a below average player at a position where he has never played, you have serious problems with your team depth, and it is borderline criminal that the A’s have made no plans--and have no major league options available--to replace Chavez, despite his complete and total inability to stay on the field. There. I said it. Crosby should be playing third only when your number one and two choices both have gone down in a game, and you need a spot infielder. I was planning to turn this into a coherent post next week, but it’s just unbelievable enough for me to say something.
So, to sum up, it was ugly as a game gets; it was all but over in the first, but the game threads were fun. Kudos to those who stuck it out. My streak is over in grand style.
The A’s play tomorrow at 4:05 PST. Hopefully Braden has better luck.