Final Score: Tigers 10, A's 1
You want a play-by-play summary of today's game? Sure. First, let me just offer you a play-by-play summary of your last root canal. At around 3:20pm, a sharp needle pierced your gums to deliver the first dose of anesthesia...Oh, you want to me stop? OK. I'm glad we understand each other.
Basically, Austin Jackson opened the game ripping a line drive single off of Jarrod Parker and that's how it went until Bob Melvin went to the bullpen after 3.1 IP. It's also how it went against the bullpen at times, but by then no A's fans cared or were sober.
In the 1st, Hunter followed Jackson's single by drilling an RBI double off the wall, Victor Martinez also found the wall for an RBI hit, and after an inning it was 2-0. Jackson's 2-run HR in the 2nd made it 4-0, and then Detroit doubled its lead, and chased Parker, with a 4-run 4th.
Most notable? No bloops, no dribblers. Just a cacophony of line drive hits and balls smashed off, or over, the wall. Parker's line: 3.1 IP, 9 hits, 8 ER, 2 BB, 2 K. His ERA after 3 starts? That would be 10.80. 23 hits and 8 BBs in 11.2 IP. Ruh-roh.
What to do with Jarrod Parker? If you're much of today's game thread, you have weighed in with the opinion that the A's either should send Parker down, or put him on a very short leash. I would like to offer a different point of view.
I think this is a case where it would be premature for the A's to react this quickly to poor performance. Parker is passing all the eye tests for health: His fastball velocity is fine (he threw 93-94 MPH several times today), and the movement/life on his pitches is fine too. What's wrong is that his command is terrible, both out of the strike zone (too often) and especially in the strike zone, where location mistakes are getting tattooed left and right.
It happens, usually due to a small-but-crucial mechanical problem. And not that the A's would want to be eminently patient with a pitcher who gives up more runs than innings pitched and leaves the bullpen 5+ innings to clean up, but pitchers often have 3 brutal starts in a row and then figure it out to follow with exactly the kinds of starts you expected to see from them.
In other words, if he's healthy and if we know he has the skills to succeed in the big leagues -- which he certainly proved last season -- then Parker just has to work through it. Curt Young & Co. will be using Parker's next side session to iron out mechanics, or whatever is causing balls to get either not enough, or too much, of the plate, and more likely than not Parker will turn it around sooner rather than later.
Sure, all eyes will be nervously on Parker his next start and sure, if Parker's next 3 starts are anything like the first 3 you have to look at making a move. But right now, you just have to remember that time and time again, good players go through "longer stretches than you'd like" looking hapless, where the best move is no move. From what I can see this is one of those times, and if there's anyone I trust to identify and help fix a pitching problem, it's Curt Young.
Here's my best guess as to what's happening. When you see some of the pitches Parker is completely misfiring, such as the 55-footers, it looks like a pitcher who trying to do too much (and maybe gripping the ball too hard, or trying to put "extra torque" on his pitches) rather than relaxing and just throwing free and easy. This is consistent with a young pitcher who has had put on him, and has put on himself, a fair amount of expectation. Likely the best thing Parker can do is to relax and remember that "less is more" -- and chances are his good mechanics, and better command, will follow suit.
As concerning to me, or more so, is the continued struggles at the plate by Josh Reddick. Now batting .109, Reddick just looks lost at the plate -- not just the results, but an approach that, well, lacks "approach" so much as "flail". Frankly, he just hasn't had a lot of good at bats, nor has he made a lot of solid contact. I'm not alarmed, but with Yoenis Cespedes out the A's need Reddick to step up and at least hit .110.
The Houston Astros come calling tomorrow night and the A's will undoubtedly enjoy not facing Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera, and Prince Fielder, none of whom they are apparently capable of getting out, ever. But worry not, because so far this season it's 2 losses, 9 wins, 2 losses...So it must be time for... ;-)