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Game #142: Comeback Derailed By 5 Walks In 9th Inning Disaster

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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Final Score: Astros 4, A's 3.

So much for the fun writeup about Nate Freiman's 2-run HR off of Dallas Keuchel to give the A's a 3-2 lead in the 7th. The 5th of 5 walks in the top of the 9th inning forced home the go-ahead run, allowing the Astros to tie and win the game without the benefit of a hit in the inning.

Anyone can summarize the events of a game, including MLB Scoreboard, so I will focus less on what happened and more on my thoughts. As for what happened, here's the data:

Jason Hammel pitched 6⅔ taking a 1-0 lead into the 7th before surrendering 2 runs. Otero got the last out of the 7th.

Freiman's 2-run HR in the 7th put the A's back on top 3-2.

Luke Gregerson pitched a scoreless 8th.

Ryan Cook started the 9th, walked the leadoff batter (Marwin Gonzalez) on 4 pitches, retired Jon Singleton on a foul pop-up, then walked pinch-hitter Mark Krauss and walked Robbie Grossman to load the bases.

Fernando Abad relieved Cook, and retired Jake Marisnick on a sacrifice fly that tied the game and left runners at 1B and 3B. The A's intentionally walked Jose Altuve to reload the bases, and Abad walked Dexter Fowler to force home the go-ahead run.

The way I see it, there is really no explanation that will get Bob Melvin out of the hot seat on this one. Why? Because if Eric O'Flaherty was not available -- and while there was no word from the clubhouse to this effect, one has to presume he wasn't available -- then knowing this, Melvin had the opportunity to leave Dan Otero in for the 8th rather than yanking him after facing all of one batter. This would have set up Gregerson to pitch the 9th.

Not having used O'Flaherty or Gregerson to close, Melvin still had other options and he chose arguably the A's worst, or if not the A's worst then probably the A's very least consistent, reliever in Ryan Cook.

If all that wasn't bad enough, he then let Cook walk the leadoff batter on 4 pitches and kept the bullpen quiet. How you let it get to Cook as closer, and then sit back as he walks not one, not two, but three batters before you are prepared to punt, is pretty baffling.

This team still leads the first wild card only on the strength of a ton of wins they banked a long time ago, with different personnel and a completely different vibe. For the past month, they have been a terrible team and even having gotten some of their key players back, such as Coco Crisp and Jed Lowrie, this team -- right down to their manager, whom I respect and adore -- seem to come to the ballpark to lose and then work hard to make it happen.

Hammel pitched really well, Freiman's HR was a heck of a lot of fun, and the crowd was electric as always. And this team is in a whole lot of trouble.