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One Bad Inning, Ill-Timed Offense, and Tim Lincecum Spoil Mazzaro’s Outing

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For five innings tonight, the game was exactly as billed; Mazzaro and Lincecum were locked in a pitcher’s duel in a scoreless game, but the only thing Mazzaro would win was the first inning; he threw 9 pitches; Lincecum 13. Ironically, the A’s seemed to have the upper hand through the first four innings; they had at least one hit in most of the innings (they would have six hits tonight), but they just couldn’t seem to put them together.

The turning point in the game was the controversial decision made by Gallego in the fourth inning; with nobody out and Kennedy on first, Cust hit an absolute laser to the outfield, which would have left most ballparks--except this one. The ball hit off the wall, and the race was on. In a decision that can be hotly debated, Gallego chose to send Kennedy (who stopped between first and second, despite how hard the ball was tagged) all the way home. In Gallego’s defense, it took a perfect relay-- two perfect throws--to get the out at the plate, and I agree with taking chances with an ace on the mound, but the fact remains: Can you really send a runner when not sending him would result in runners at second and third, and no one out for Holliday? The A’s would not score in the inning.

Mazzaro was perfect through the first three, and would have been perfect through four, if Giambi could have caught Hannahan’s ball for the third out of the inning. The first baserunner of the game for the Giants reached base on the error, and Mazzaro had to pitch to an extra batter.

The A’s threatened again in the fifth; after Rajai was hit by a pitch to start the inning and Mazzaro bunted him to second base (his second successful bunt of the night), Orlando Cabrera bunted for a base hit to send Rajai to third with two outs. But Kennedy struck out to end the threat, and that was just about the end of the night for the A’s.

The Giants’ first hit of the game was in the fifth--a bunt single by Pablo Sandoval, of all people, who looked like he would be out if Giambi was Barton. Mazzaro, pitching out of the stretch, gave up another hit and a walk, bringing up Lincecum. WHO SINGLED and drove in the first run of the game. It would be enough for the win, despite the single following it that would bring the score to 3-0. Lincecum would pitch the rest of the game; giving up a single to Holliday and a single to pinch-hitting Nomar; of course, not in the same inning.

I didn’t expect the A’s to win this game; Lincecum is one of the best pitchers in MLB, but I am disappointed that they didn’t score the run(s) when they could have. Perhaps the game would have been different if Mazzaro had the confidence of a lead, no matter how slim.

What’s worse is that the Rangers won and the Angels hold a comfortable lead, so that doesn’t help the A’s in the race.

But we do it all again tomorrow night; Outman against Randy Johnson. Leave it all on the field tonight, and come back tomorrow to play. I’ll be back in the gamethreads after eight games; can the A’s have a winning streak?