This game started off in the most disgusting way possible, and ended in much the same way. Fresh off of blowing a game by allowing two runs on no hits thanks to a bevy of walks, Sonny Gray proceeded to walk the first two batters and give up two runs on an error and a groundout. Yes, that made it two innings in a row allowing two runs on no hits. And of course, fresh off of blowing a one run lead in the 9th inning, the A's bullpen did it again. Who says the A's aren't consistent?
Sonny Gray did settle down, to an extent. He ended up allowing just one more run on a solo shot by Conor Gillaspie. However, he was bailed out by Sam Fuld making a running, leaping grab over the fence and robbing a home run from Alexei Ramirez. Ramirez got Sonny Gray again for his final out, lining a shot to third base with a man on third. Donaldson made a nice snag on the "at 'em" ball to save Sonny Gray's "quality" start.
The A's were getting mowed down by journeyman Hector Noesi, but that finally changed in the fifth. Derek Norris led off with a single. Josh Reddick then launched his 11th home run of the season to right. Jed Lowrie, the A's hottest hitter, followed with a homer of his own to give the A's a 3-2 lead. With no outs and a chance to drive out Noesi, the first half A's would have pounded him into submission. The second half A's let him off the hook with no more hits in the frame. The lead was later relinquished on the aforementioned Gillaspie home run, but the A's got the lead back in the 8th inning.
After the first out, Alberto Callaspo pinch hit for Eric Sogard and drew a walk. Bob Melvin immediately swapped out Callaspo for pinch runner Billy Burns. Burns then stole second for his first major league steal. Coco Crisp followed with a flyball smacked to the left field line. Dayan Viciedo had a play on it, but for some reason let the ball drop. Burns, thinking it was a catch all the way, advanced late to third base but couldn't make it home. Sam Fuld came up to the plate, first and third nobody out. With that much speed on the bases and at the plate, Melvin called a safety squeeze. Fuld pulled off a great bunt pushed right through under the glove of the first baseman Andy Wilkins and Burns scurried home on the safety squeeze. 4-3 A's, and they still had first and second with one out. Of course the A's could not do any damage as Josh Donaldson and Adam Dunn went quietly with back to back K's.
In the 9th, Norris led off with a triple. Josh Reddick's groundout could not bring him home with a drawn-in infield. After an intentional walk to Jed Lowrie and Nate Freiman did the worst possible thing he could have done, grounding into a double play. The A's were still clinging to a 4-3 lead, but not scoring the leadoff triple left fans uneasy at best. And the way we have been conditioned during this epic collapse...most of us expected the worst.
However, Eric O'Flaherty was available tonight and came in to close. He got the first two guys relatively easily. Everything was lining up for the A's, finally. Two strikes, two outs. And then O'Flaherty delivered a pitch to Tyler Flowers that ended up in the bullpen past U.S. Cellular Park's outfield. The way things are going, of course the A's didn't pull of the win there. Of course the A's lost the lead in a backbreaking, heartbreaking, [deleted]breaking fashion.
And of course, the top of the 10th brought Josh Donaldson up to bat with a runner on base and two outs. And of course he continued his incredibly ill-timed epic slump in the #3 spot, following up his 4 K's with a short pop up for the third out. Donaldson had a terrible game, the only guy to pull the 0-5.
Dan Otero pitched very will in extras, then gave way to Jesse Chavez in the bottom of the 12th, after the predictably lifeless A's bats went down quietly in the top of the previous three innings.
And then of course, Chavez came in and gave up a 12th inning home run to Tyler Flowers. First pitch, hanging curveball. Yeah, he only burned you once, why bother being careful?
The A's had so many opportunities to put this game away. They managed just seven hits through 12 innings, none in extras. I keep trying to hope that the A's will play decently. That they will put together a good stretch. That the entire team will come together and pick each other up. When the offense wastes a leadoff triple, the bullpen will protect the one run lead. But over and over and over again each A's game feels like plugging one hole while watching another leak. Nothing is cohesive. Every game is tense and tight. It's just not that fun anymore.
I was really truly hoping the A's would find their stroke in a bandbox against a bad team. A team on a 4-game losing streak. Instead they looked like the also-rans playing out the string, while the White Sox made the clutch hits they needed to take the game. The A's are 2-5 in September, after going 12-17 in August.
Join us tomorrow to watch the free fall!