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Game #107: Hammel Shelled for 8 in Series Loss

It's not often in the 2014 season that an A's game is a complete and utter loss and waste of time and at-bats, and especially not after the first inning, but that's what we were treated to today as Jason Hammel was exactly as bad in the first inning as a pitcher is allowed to be without being yanked immediately. His 6 runs in the first set the A's up for failure, and the offense didn't bother; one comeback in two days is enough as they fell 8-1.

Bob Levey

Baseball's a funny game. Hilarious even. Obviously, this isn't one of those times. Today was horrible. Only in the most ironic or sarcastic definitions of the word could there be humor in this one, so just be glad it's only one game. And it is only one game, and I'm not ready to call Jason Hammel an auto-loss, but, well, he's 0-4 in his first four starts with the A's, and he was buried today from his second batter. Literally every pitch he threw in the first was batting practice, and Houston took advantage, sending ten men to the plate, staking themselves to a 6-0 lead before the fourth hitter even game to the plate for Oakland.

Here are some notes on today's game:

  • The A's could have made the same 6-run, ninth-inning comeback and would have still lost the game.
  • Hammel racked up eight earned runs in his four innings.
  • Josh Donaldson's solo home run was one of four A's hits, and their only run.
  • Dallas Keuchel pitched a complete game, four-hitter against the A's.

If you didn't have the "pleasure" of watching this one (not that you could if you were local, since it wasn't televised), go back and watch last night's ninth inning, since that was the only thing that stood between the A's and a commanding sweep by the Houston Astros, who owned the A's for all but one inning of this 27 inning series. The A's did not play great baseball in this series; save for one inning, they didn't hit, they didn't field particularly well, and the pitching was suspect at best, and horrific (today) at worst.

Billy Burns went 0-4 in his first Major League start, managing three ground balls and one fly out. One ground-out was to third, one to short with an easy throw to second for the force, and one to second base that he nearly beat out on a routine play. He's fast, but the 0-4 with no walks is not helpful at the top of the lineup. He also made an error in the nightmare first inning, and didn't look especially awesome in the field otherwise.

Yes, I'm a little concerned with the recent lack of offense, but I refuse to make any judgments based on this game alone. This game was lost by Hammel thanks to the very first inning, which went a little something like this: OUT. Single, single, FORCE OUT (should have been two, but Lowrie throws like Coco, so it was not). One run. Then it got really fun. Walk, single, second run. Error on the play for the third run, single for the fourth run, and a home run for the fifth and sixth runs. Despite a lead off home run by Donaldson in the next inning to close the gap to 6-1, the A's offense just folded up.

Hammel pitched the second, third and fourth without further incident, but that's a little like locking your house after it's been robbed six times. The A's got a lead off hit by Moss to open the fifth, but Alberto Callapo grounded into a double-play on one pitch. Lowrie had a hit in the game, and so did Norris in the ninth, and that was all she wrote. To no one's surprise, Hammel gave up another home run in the fifth inning for two more, and after that, the A's couldn't have packed it in any faster.

So they drop the series to Houston, and were damn lucky they weren't swept in the process. The A's will leave Texas and the heat and head back to Oakland for the weekend, where Sonny Gray will try to beat the Royals on Friday night. Their lead is now back to 2, as we await tonight's game. Go Baltimore!