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Mazzaro Dooms A's Before They Can Even Bat

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You always hope that when your team comes to bat for the first time, the score is still kind of close. Such wasn't the case today at the Coliseum, as Vin Mazzaro set a high standard of suck early and then exceeded all expectations.

There was nobody out when Aaron Hill banged a two-run HR, his WTF 26th of the season, and there was still nobody out when Alex Rios cleared the bases with a three-run double. 5-0 before Mazzaro got the game's ceremonial first out. What is Mazzaro's problem? The number of fastballs down the middle appears to be a bit of a detriment. Eyeballing it, I would add two possible contributors to Mazzaro's downfall.

One is that in Spring Training, and in his first two starts, Mazzaro's fastball appeared to jump out of his hand and get on the hitter quickly. Lately, the fastball velocity is the same but the action just isn't -- his fastball seems to be fading as it gets to the plate, rather than finishing with that "giddyup" that shows up not on the radar gun, but rather in the batters' reactions.

The other thing I notice is that batters aren't out in front of Mazzaro's slider enough. When a pitcher throws the changeup too slow, the batter can get a "second wind" if he is initially out on the front foot. Similarly with breaking pitches out of the strike zone, you need the hitter to have committed by the time it's clearly not a fastball. If Mazzaro threw the slider a tad harder, he might have hitters committing on pitches they are currently laying off.

In any event, the game was 2-2 from the top of the first on, in a game where the Blue Jays were more than satisfied to trade runs for most of the afternoon. Until baseball adopts the "mulligan," the A's are going to lose games like this, and lose they most certainly did. Mazzaro has now gone 0-8 in his last 10 starts, making "Mazzaro World" a distant, if vaguely pleasant, memory.