Once again, the A's blew a game they had a chance to win. They pitched ok, not great. They could not hit at all. Although they lost 4-3, the game wasn't even that close. The A's scored their runs with pure luck. The Astros scored by actually hitting the ball. They couldn't hit. They embarrassed themselves. They can't beat the Astros. They can't beat the Angels. They can't beat the Mariners. Chalk up another loss to the unwAtchables led by "All-Stars" Josh Donaldson and Derek Norris.
The Astros struck first on a Jon Singleton first pitch homerun. He ambushed a cutter that caught too much of the plate and it got out of the Coliseum in a hurry. 1-0 Astros, and with the way the offense was going hope was quickly dissipating.
However, the seemingly insurmountable lead was not insurmountable! The A's were gifted by a completely lucky sequence that went for three runs. Perpetual disappointment Alberto Callaspo lead off the inning with a comebacker to the mound. Except it ticked off Brett Oberholtzer's glove and rolled far to the third base side. Far enough for the trailer-hauling Callaspo to make it to first for an unlikely infield single. Oberholtzer followed up by striking out Coco Crisp but then walked Craig Gentry and Josh Donaldson to load the bases with one out.
The struggling Derek Norris hit a soft blooper that was not completely out of reach of the left fielder Jake Marisnick. However, Marisnick got a bad jump and the ball bounced under his glove. Single, RBI, error, A's up 2-0. Donaldson made it all the way to third base on the misplay. The A's newest acquisition, one Mr. Adam Dunn stepped up to the plate. Facing an exaggerated shift as always, Dunn was able to sneak a ground ball just through the shift and score Donaldson. 3-1 A's on a misplay, walk, walk, bloop, error, and seeing eye grounder.
Of course, Jeff Samardzija could not contain the Astros' two best hitters, Jose Altuve and Chris Carter. Altuve started things off with his 195th hit of the season. Of course, he proceeded to steal second base, for his 51st of the year. He's having one of the all-time great seasons in baseball history. Carter, with two strikes was able to knuckle Samardzija's pitch to center field to get one of the runs back. 3-2 A's. Shark shut the door and got out of the inning without further damage.
The bottom of the fourth inning presented the biggest and best gifts a team could ask for, and the struggling Athletics couldn't even open the damn wrapping paper, instead slamming their head stupidly against a wall over and over. Actually wait that was me.
Nate Freiman started things off with an eminently fieldable comebacker that bounced off of Oberholtzer's glove. Alberto Callaspo actually got a legitimate hit by searing a ball again past Oberholtzer, who must have thought he was being targeted. Some pitchers might have made a play on it, but missing that one was excusable. Two on, nobody out. Coco Crisp hit a routine flyball to left fielder Rex Grossman. However, Astros CF Dexter Fowler, fresh off a mild spat with his right fielder Jake Marisnick, ran all the way into left. Grossman, aware of Fowler's prickliness, hesitated. The ball miraculously dropped! The baserunners could only move up one base, because no one in the stadium expected that to drop. Fowler was charged with an error, but it was much more mystifying than a typical error. Anyway, the A's had bases loaded, nobody out. And they did it really by recording one legitimate hit and watching a hilarious error.
At this point, I was harkening back to the "Astros gonna Astro" days of yesteryear. Remember when the Astros did stuff like that every game, and the A's would routinely post crooked numbers, laughing all the way? It was happening again! Astros gonna Astro throwback Friday!
And then the "A's gonna A" happened.
Craig Gentry grounded to third baseman Matt Dominguez, known for his fielding prowess. Dominguez easily threw out Freiman at home. 1 out. But still, the A's had Josh Donaldson. All star starter. 4th in MVP voting last year. The A's best hitter. And he did the unforgivable. He smacked a grounder to Dominguez, who calmly went home for one out, and Jason Castro relayed to first for the double play. Gift bases loaded, heart of the order, nobody out, and no runs scored. A terrible showing with a one run lead. We all knew it would come back to haunt the A's later.
In the sixth inning, it did. Once again, the combination of Altuve and Carter did in the A's. Altuve smacked a single, and on a full count Carter sent a 97 mph Samardzija offering clear to Fruitvale Station. 4-3 Astros.
The A's then wasted chances with baserunners in the seventh and eighth innings, but the A's bullpen held. A 1-2-3 ninth shut the door and handed the A's a loss on a night when Seattle and Anaheim won. And 21,130 fans were wondering why they even bothered to show up when their hitters take every single night off.
Give credit to the Astros. They weren't afraid to attack the A's hitters. They knew there was no chance the A's would show any life, talent, skill, fearlessness, pride, or joy in their work. I counted exactly one line drive base hit all night long, by Coco Crisp to lead off the seventh inning. That's it. Wow fans, did you have fun watching that line drive? That was cool, huh? The A's hit line drive! Wow!
The A's are 1-7 in their last 8 games. This is how you lose a pennant race.