Excuse me, I just have to catch my breath a little bit. Huhhh. Huhhhhhhh. Huhjdkldxdcfvgbhjnmk.
This game was equivalent to the world’s longest teAse. The A’s kept making noise, the Angels kept leaving small armies on base with thrilling escapes by the A’s, and momentum kept shifting.
Kept shifting. Momentum. Maybe there isn’t such a thing. Maybe we’re all just swimming in an endless void, waiting for some glimpse of meaning in the abyss.
Dagnabbit, this game did things to my head.
First things first: this game started out awful. Sonny Gray allowed three runs in the second inning after a crazy singles parade. Nothing was hit hard, no particularly bad pitches were made, no extra base hits were allowed … just, singles. Singles everywhere.
The killing blow was a single by Gordon freakin’ Beckham, a player so bad that the White Sox let him go for absolutely nothing. Sonny Gray was drowning in singles. And after the second inning was done, the A’s were down 3-0, and the momentum felt like the Angels were going to run away with it.
And, like a truck crashing into a center divider, the Angels’ momentum crashed and burned. Sonny Gray settled down, and pitched 7 wonderful innings. He faced the minimum through his last four, and the Angels could not do anything. It was fantastic.
Meanwhile, the A’s offense looked just as lethargic, and didn’t have the benefit of the singles on singles on singles the Angels managed to pull off. Until the fifth inning. Brandon Moss walked to lead off, and Giovanny Soto hit a double that Kole Calhoun couldn’t pick up, allowing Moss to score and Soto to move to third. Coco Crisp singled him in, but eventually got picked off during Josh Donaldson’s AB.
Boom, rally killed. Dumb move, Coco. Could’ve cost us the game!
… but, since JD was mid-AB during Coco’s misstep, he got to lead off the next inning with a new AB. And he hit a homer. Since Donaldson was down 1-2 when Coco was picked off, and was up 3-1 when he hit the homer, I'm actually considering the Coco TOOTBLAN a positive. Because Josh Donaldson is the best.
Seriously, let’s talk about Josh Donaldson for a moment. He had an absolutely spectacular game. 2 for 3 with a double, homer, and two walks, plus absolutely incredible, game saving defense. Josh Donaldson basically tried to will the A’s to victory.
And momentum shifted back to the A’s, leading them to load the bases with two outs for Stephen Vogt in the 6th inning. And, in a cruel flashback to basically every other game in August, Vogt struck out and left the bases loaded. Welp.
The Slow March Toward Oblivion
As soon as the sixth inning ended, the game became a slow, unending nightmare from which there was no escape. Sure, there were moments of hope, but no escape.
So, basically, it was like every other game this month.
The A’s went go down meekly every inning versus the Angels’ bullpen. Meanwhile, the A’s got exactly one clean inning of relief work versus the Angels: Luke Gregerson’s eight. We should send him a flower arrangement or something.
Dan Otero went out for the 9th inning, and stuff got weird. Stuff got super, super, ridiculously weird. Aybar hit a high bouncer down the first base line, Moss and Otero collided trying to field it, and... Aybar ran out of his running lane and basically tackled Otero, who had possession of the ball. He was immediately given first base on an obstruction call.
Obstruction was called on Moss, who the runner never touched. In fact, Aybar veered out of the running lane into the infield grass to collide with Otero. In all, it was an absolutely awful call. Melvin played the game under protest — as he should have.
If you're interested in a much more thorough breakdown of the subject, Jeremy Koo has put together a great article on what went down and what can be done here.
It was magnified when John McDonald, owner of the most vanilla name since Joe Smith, tried to bunt Aybar over. And Moss and Otero, who have apparently never met before this game, just kind of stared at each other, letting the ball roll by. Maybe they were thinking about happier times. Maybe they wanted to make absolutely sure that fielding a ball doesn’t count as obstruction. Maybe it was a massive brainfart. Who knows.
Miraculously — miraculously — the A’s got out of it. In the process, they burnt Abad on one batter and brought in Cook … for some reason. But hey, they got out of one of the most tense situations I’ve ever seen in a baseball game. The momentum’s back, baby!
*screeching tires, crashing metal, breaking glass*
The A’s didn't get the momentum back. They went down 1-2-3 in the 10th.
Meanwhile, Cook started off the 10th with a leadoff walk, because, sigh, whatever. A Pujols ground ball, which I’m sure 99% of MLB level second basemen turn into a routine out, rolled past Callaspo, because, yeah, okay. And then Howie Kendrick walked it off with a sac fly, because gosh, I just wanted to sleep anyway.
Maybe, just maybe, some good came out of this game. It’s blindingly obvious to anyone who watches A’s baseball that there are two moves that can immediately help this team.
1. Callaspo never plays another game in an A’s uniform. He’s by far the worst player on the team, he absolutely cost us the game, and he’s been below replacement level for a long, long time.
2. Derek Norris needs to, if not go on the DL, sit for a lot of games. Soto’s impressed, and Norris is obviously in no shape to play baseball right now. Sit him down. Send him home sick. Do something.
That’s it. That’s what I think is wrong with the team. Cespedes, whatever. Just don’t let me ever see Callaspo again and I’ll be fine.