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Game #60: Pomeranz outduels Tanaka, but the A's still lose 2-1

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A great outing by Pomeranz is spoiled when the offense fails to show up, and the A's lose an exciting pitcher's duel. What a dumb way to start off a morning.

Jim McIsaac

Maybe we were never meant to win this game.   

It’s tough to say that now, after the countless missed chances. But to be honest, I had written this game off as a loss as soon as I saw the pitching matchup. Cy Young favorite Masahiro Tanaka versus marginal 5th starter/long reliever Drew Pomeranz? I fully expected to lose the game 5-0 or something. I would’ve been fine with that.

But then we knocked out Tanaka after 6 innings, and Pomeranz turned in the best start of his career. That’s right: Drew Pomeranz outdueled Masahiro Tanaka. But that’s not just because Pomeranz was great – Tanaka was bad. He only stuck out 4 batters, a career/season low. He only lasted 6 innings, a career/season low. He allowed the first homer in his last 39 innings. He was bad. But we failed to pile on and make the big hits when it was needed, and  he walked away with only one ER. He was certainly off enough to break his quality start streak, if the A’s could’ve capitalized. But they didn’t, and so it goes.

I really can’t say enough good things about Drew Pomeranz today. 7 IP, 1 ER, 7 K, 1 BB. Just an absolutely incredible game when we really needed an incredible game to win. But a Moss error in the OF allowed an unearned run to score, and so it goes.

The game started off on a really hopeful note: John Jaso homered on the seventh pitch of the game. Don’t look now, but his wRC+ is up to 150, and he’s already matched last year’s fWAR total. ZiPS and Steamer both have him putting up close to the best season of his career. John Jaso is good. For a guy we had written off as a pure DH three months ago, and talked about trading for SP depth last month, he’s been incredible and an indispensable part of this team.

Right fielder Stephen Vogt (???) also had a weirdly impressive game, going 2-4 and making an impressive running catch to end a Yankees rally. He was also the only outfielder that left today’s game without an error, just like we all expected.

I really can’t wait for the inevitable 3 catcher lineup BoMel will roll out. Bring back Daric Barton, and we’ll have 5 players that came up as catchers on the field! Ray Fosse would squeal in delight.

Unfortunately, when the offensive high point comes about 2 minutes into a game, the game usually isn’t great.

Tanaka immediately settled down and set down 10 batters in a row, before beginning the awful tightrope act that would define the A’s offense for the rest of the game. The A’s left two men on base in the 4th, 5th, and 8th innings. They went a combined 0-7 with RISP.

The eighth inning was the killing blow. Crisp and Jaso singled to start off the inning, so Runs DMC had three out to tie up the game. Donaldson had the most inexplicably terrible at-bat I’ve seen from him this year: swinging through a slider, bunting a ball foul (???), and then striking out on a hanging slider.  Moss tried his darnedest, but Ichiro is just as annoying on the East Coast as he was in Seattle. And then Cespedes had a predictable K. So it goes.

The other big scoring threat came in the ninth, when Vogt hit a one-out single. Pinch runner Craig Gentry stole 2nd, and Callaspo hit a single up the middle… except it wasn’t a single, because closer David Robertson managed to kick it to Teixeira,for the routine 1-3-1 putout. Norris struck out with the tying run 90 feet away. So it goes.

I could talk about the bizarre strikezone, but that would just obfuscate the main factor in the game: the offense couldn’t get it done. The pitching was great from both Pomeranz and Jim Johnson. The defense was bad, but only Moss’s error that turned a single into a double really made a difference – and even then, you can’t expect to win a game in which you only score one run.

We’re the top rated offense in baseball, although the Jays are rapidly contesting that mark.  Games like this don’t happen often, but they do happen. The 1927 Yankees scored one run or less 10 times. We’ve only done it 6 times.

If we had won, I’d be talking about how ridiculous and unexpected it was that we managed to steal a Masahiro Tanaka vs. Drew Pomeranz game. This team is ridiculous and unexpected, but that doesn’t mean the expected never happens. So it goes.