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Game #88: Sloppy Defense, Baserunning, and Walks Doom A's in Loss

It's hard to really assign blame in this game, as just about every facet of the A's game fell apart at one time or another in the loss today. This was a winnable game if the A's just play their usual solid brand of baseball, but from their three errors in the field, to errors all over the basepaths, to the unusually wild pitching staff, this game was doomed to be a loss from about the fourth inning on; it just took eight innings for the A's to actually lose.

Jamie Squire

When we look back at the 2013 season, this game will rank up there as one of the A's sloppiest losses of the year, and it was about that much fun to watch, as well. The A's wasted opportunities all day on the basepaths, while consistently giving the Royals extra bases, and worse, extra outs on the other side of the field.

Should be, could be, may be All-Star Josh Donaldson (the results will be announced later today--stay tuned!) was really the only bright spot in today's game as he made one last bid for national recognition with a walk, a single and a homerun.

The rest of the team, though? Ooof. Brandon Moss pulled the hat trick, Coco Crisp swung at the first pitch in almost all of his at-bats, Cespedes and Sogard did their best impression of Tejada and Byrnes on the basepathes, circa 2003, and the A's pitchers walked six (more than they struck out) in today's 4-3 loss. The A's deserved to lose this game, and it looked just as ugly as you can imagine.

No one should freak out; this is a good ballclub, with one of the best records in MLB, but I'd take no highlights from this one. Jarrod Parker did pitch into the seventh inning, but he made two of the A's three errors today, so he should probably stop taking PFP from Brett Anderson. With the exception of a solo homerun, all of the Royals runs were a direct result of mental or physical errors on the part of the A's.

Also, do we have another shortstop in the wings? I'm serious. Adam Rosales looks more and more out of place in the Major Leagues every single day, and he cost the A's two runs today; one on offense, and one on defense, which is the only thing he usually does well. (And yes, this is rhetorical; we are likely stuck with Rosales, but we really might want to change that.)

Parker opened the game by being unable to field a ball hit back to him, but Sogard saved the inning with a remarkable diving catch to snag a sure base-hit to right field. The A's got on the board in their half of the second inning as Donaldson walked with one out, Smith singled, and Reddick singled to center. The Royals' outfield continued its struggles as not only did Donaldson score on the play, but both runners advanced on the play, as well. The unfortunate part of the inning with one out and runners at second and third is that Rosales was at the plate. As is par for the course, he grounded out and got the runner thrown out at home to waste another brilliant scoring opportunity for the A's.

The A's would add onto their lead in the third, but they absolutely should have had more. With one out, Jaso singled and Cespedes walked. After Moss struck out for the second out, Josh Donaldson hit a tough pop-up in no-man's land to the right field triangle. It was obvious off the bat that it would be a tough play, and it did drop fair. Unfortunately, Yoenis Cespedes was jogging around the bases instead of running, and he landed on third, instead of scoring on the play. Routine play? I get it. He has hamstring issues, and no one except Rosales ever really runs hard on those anyway. But a) this play was never routine and b) I don't cut him any slack after watching him on the basepaths. Remember the run he cost us on Father's Day? Runners on first and third, one out, and the ball was smoked to first base. Instead of recognizing that all he had to do was get into a pickle long enough for the run to score, he ran into the tag, and cost the A's another run. He definitely cost the A's another one today, as with two outs, what else do you have to do but run as hard as you can around the bases? It's literally a no-brainer play.

That run was always going to be the difference in the game, but the A's would make sure to squander more chances, just to be sure. Parker put two runners on with no outs in the Royals' half of the third, but Donaldson caught a pop-up for the first out. Then Parker wheeled on the runner at second, and threw the ball into center field, allowing the runner to get to third with one out, and to score on a groundout, cutting the lead to one. Moustakas homered to tie the game in the fourth, and Donaldson homered in the sixth to untie it, yet again.

Sogard opened the seventh inning with a ground-rule double, but inexplicably was thrown out at third, trying to advance on Coco's shallow-ish fly ball. That would be the A's last real chance to score, and to be fair, they did end their scoring holding a 3-2 lead. But the Parker and Blevins Pitch the Seventh Inning Show should not be picked up by network TV, because it was terrible. It's a shame, too, since Parker pitched pretty well for the previous six. He allowed a one-out single and a walk to put two on, and Blevins did him no favors as his replacement, walking the bases loaded and allowing the game-tying sacrifice fly. Ryan Cook got them out of the seventh with no further damage, but a two-out error on a routine ground ball by Rosales set the table for the Royals' win. A stolen base, and two more walks loaded the bases for the game-winning infield single, and that was all she wrote.

Le sigh. You can't win 'em all, but you'd either like to lose prettier than this, or maybe it's good that everyone sucked on the same day, same game? The A's can still win the series tomorrow if Griffin can beat Mendoza. Same time (11:05), same place (right here). Go enjoy your Saturday, and we'll see if the A's can bounce back tomorrow.

Remember, check back this afternoon for the results of the All-Star Voting!