Home plate umpire Mike Estabrook's wide strike zone froze the offenses for both sides.
Neither the Royals nor the A's have really liked Mike Estabrook's strike zone tonight. Batters for both teams have been frustrated by it.— Raj Dhillon (@runscreatedplus) August 2, 2014
If it wasn't for the designated hitter rule, Raul Ibanez would be out of baseball.
Mike Estabrook is a little too happy to call the check swing all by himself.
Mike Estabrook calls Callaspo out on a check swing to end the game. Melvin and fans not happy. Royals win 1-0.— Aaron Leibowitz (@aaron_leib) August 2, 2014
Or it's the wave's fault. I blame the wave.— Joe Serrato (@joeserrato1) August 2, 2014
The Curse of La Potencia.
INTERESTING THAT OAKLAND STRUGGLED TO SCORE ANY RUNS TONIGHT IT'S LIKE THEY'RE MISSING SOMEONE WHO COULD IT BE pic.twitter.com/m7nhXY5agc— Cespedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) August 2, 2014
The Curse of Shooty Babitt.
I blame Shooty.— Alvin J (@NLsoldja) August 2, 2014
The Curse of the Sonny Gray fireworks night.
I'm told the #Athletics have been shutout FIVE times this season. - Four times when Gray starts - Two times on fireworks night— Brodie Brazil (@brodiebrazilCSN) August 2, 2014
Sonny Gray came into tonight's game off a July that has him in strong contention for July's pitcher of the month award. Sam Fuld arrived coming off a .358/.476/.418 July for the Minnesota Twins. Jim Johnson had been released. Jeremy Guthrie took the hill for the Royals sporting a 4.70 ERA.
Sonny Gray did his part, Sam Fuld did his part, heck even Josh Reddick's renewed offensive power did its part, but they couldn't come together to produce a win today.
No superheroes for Oakland tonight
The A's went nine up and nine down in the early going against Guthrie. There were promising signs the A's could break through in the fourth when Sam Fuld doubled to lead off the inning and John Jaso grounded out to move Fuld to third. Josh Donaldson drew a walk, but Brandon Moss popped out to catcher Salvador Perez, and Jed Lowrie fell victim to the generally wide zone offered by Mike Estabrook to both sides.
Similar opportunities to put runners in scoring position arose in the sixth, seventh, and ninth innings. Fuld stood at third again in the sixth, but both Moss and Lowrie struck out looking. In the seventh, Josh Reddick round himself at second base with two out, but Sam Fuld struck out swinging this time. Finally, in the ninth, Reddick had doubled with two outs, but Alberto Callaspo looked generally lost, and was called out by home plate umpire Mike Estabrook on a check swing. The A's finished the evening 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, including five strikeouts. The A's struck out 12 times overall.
Did anyone ever notice that you never see Raul Ibanez and Superman in the same place?
The Royals were pretty awful at the plate too, though did quite a bit better putting the ball in play. Sonny Gray only allowed three hits and did not concede a walk for the first time this season. He strangely tossed two wild pitches, but he escaped both of those mistakes without any runs.
One hit, unfortunately, was the solo home run to Raul Ibanez that went over the 362 sign in right-center field.
Sonny Gray left after seven innings, and Eric O'Flaherty got two outs in the eighth before giving up a single and a walk. Dan Otero got Omar Infante to hit a one-pitch flyball to Eric Sogard to end the eighth, and dispensed with the Royals 3-4-5 hitters in the ninth as well.
This game was awful
I tend to listen to the games on the radio for the most part, and maybe TV viewers or neutrals can tell me differently, but this game was awful in how terribly non-compelling it was. Clayton Kershaw is compelling. Somehow Sonny Gray giving up an oopsie to Ibanez and Guthrie getting through six innings is not. The home plate umpire's occasional incursions into the game didn't help matters.
The Royals bullpen is pretty good
For the rest of the series, one thing that's a bit disconcerting is that the Royals bullpen is pretty good. The A's have taken advantage of the soft underbelly of a lot of other teams, but the Royals pen rivals that of the A's and really shortened tonight's game.
Saturday, Jon Lester makes his Athletics debut at 1:05 pm faced by fellow left-hander Jason Vargas. See you then.