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Game #60: Griffin's gem, Cespedes' two homers prove too little for A's

A.J. Griffin gets stuck with a no-decision despite a seven-inning, four-hit gem.

Sorry, AJ.
Sorry, AJ.
Mike McGinnis

The A's, as they've been doing quite frequently as of late, got on the board early thanks to a Coco Crisp single on a grounder to the left side. He stole second and advanced to third on a John Jaso groundout, but it turned out that he would've been better off saving his breath, as Yoenis Cespedes took the first pitch Lohse threw him deep to left center field, giving the A's a 2-0 lead.

That 2-0 advantage remained through the sixth inning, and in the meantime, A.J. Griffin held the Brewers to just three hits, including a streak of eight straight batters retired to start off the game. His curveball was as beautiful as ever and his fastball location was great — the ability to elevate a 90mph fastball on the heels of a 68mph curve, or use those two pitches in reverse order, is really something.

A.J. ended up allowing four hits over seven full innings, walking just one batter while striking out five. The outing lowers his ERA to 3.67 on the year, in case you were wondering.

In the sixth inning, Yoenis Cespedes gave A.J. yet another reason to be confident going back out for the 7th. For the second time in the game, he took Lohse deep to left-center field. It's worth noting that neither of his home runs was a high fly ball, either; they were both line drives that he hit incredibly hard and were traveling at ungodly speeds even when they had reached the outfield fence. The jack marked Yoenis' first multi-homer game in Major League baseball, if you can believe that. I have a hunch it'll turn out to be the first of many.

Josh Reddick made great contact tonight but, not unlike April, came up with little to show for it. He was robbed on consecutive line drives to the right side in the 4th and 6th innings. The Baseball Gods finally allowed him to reach base with two runners on in the 8th inning on another smash to the right side that could have gone for a double; instead, it was knocked by Milwaukee first baseman Juan Francisco, but he had no play.

With the bases loaded and a 3-0 lead, Bob Melvin gave Nate Freiman a shot to break the game open, but the 6'8" slugger swung at ball four after working the count full, leaving Sean Doolittle to try and hold the Brewers in the bottom of the 8th. That decision may have come back to haunt him, as you'll see in a second.

On two pitches, Doolittle gave up hard-hit singles to Rickie Weeks and Norichika Aoki, giving Jean Segura the opportunity to tie the game with one swing and none out. He didn't tie the game, but he came close — he laced a shot down the right field line, right past Freiman, that ended up being scored as a triple, scoring both runners. Doolittle was gone after just four pitches, all of which were four-seam fastballs down the middle. That makes three consecutive rough outings for Sean, but that might just be him: when you throw almost exclusively 95mph fastballs, some of them are going to get hit, especially when you aren't locating perfectly.

So, sidebar: Would Moss have gotten a glove on it? There's no way of knowing, but there's little doubt that in general he plays better defense than Freiman does, and late in the game with a 3-0 lead, I say that defensive ability trumps a righty/lefty advantage. With the bases loaded and Freiman hitting well lately it becomes a very, very tough call, and of course my 20/20 hindsight goggles make it easy to wonder how this game would've been different had Moss been playing first base.

So on came Ryan Cook to clean up quite the mess: the tying run on third with nobody out. Ryan Braun (who may or may not be about to get suspended for PED use) grounded out neatly to Donaldson, who held the runner, but Aramis Ramirez blooped a single to shallow center field that tied the game. Cook found himself a GIDP courtesy of Carlos Gomez, a very tough man to double off, but that damage had been done.

The A's and Brewers both failed to score in the ninth. The A's went quietly; the Brewers didn't do the same, but Jerry Blevins managed to fight his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom half and the game went to the tenth.

The A's went quietly in their half. With Pat Neshek pitching in the bottom of the tenth, Aramis Ramirez singled on a line drive to left field that would've almost definitely been caught had Cespedes not been playing in a deep, no-doubles alignment with no runners on, a potentially very questionable decision.

To boot, why was Neshek facing the middle of the order, and not Balfour? I can't answer that one, either.

With a runner on, Milwaukee put on a hit-and-run, and it payed off; Yuniesky Betancourt laced a single to right-center field, and Ramirez scored about six feet ahead of Eric Sogard's relay.

This may well be the worst loss of the year — blowing a three-run lead in the eighth inning to one of baseball's worst teams isn't going to cut it. I'd bet that Doolittle buys Griffin dinner tonight.

But that's baseball. The A's fall to 35-25 and will go for the series win tomorrow 11:10 AM Pacific, with Alex Hall as your host.