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Spring Game #18: Solid pitching can’t save stagnant bats

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As weird as it sounds, the Mariners are the favorite to win the AL West this year. They haven't even been in the discussion since… 2002? It’s a fairly momentous occurrence for our rivals to the northwest, and they certainly showed some skill and some hunger today.

It was actually a bit of a ho-hum affair. A pretty good pitchers’ duel was wasted when Chris Bassitt and Even Scribner couldn’t get out of the eight inning, but the culprit for today’s loss was absolutely the bats. And, to be fair, the A’s ran out a lineup that wouldn’t be extremely out of place in a Nashville Sounds game. Craig Gentry, Sam Fuld, Marcus Semien, Stephen Vogt, and Mark Canha were the only position players used that were projected to have a major role with the 2015 A’s, and none of the above are exactly known for their bats.

Drew Pomeranz did his best though, allowing one run in a sparkling four innings of work. He’s making a very strong case to lock up one of the open rotation spots. For a pitcher whose main concern is his control, he hit his spots today and ended up only allowing one walk.

After some initial struggles in the first inning, he calmed down and mowed down the next 7 players in spectacular fashion (5 Ks!). He did allow one run in the fourth, when a hanging breaking ball lead to a Kyle Seager double and Justin Ruggiano followed it up with a RBI single. But, in all, it was another strong start for Pomeranz.

One more note about Pomeranz’s performance today: he struck Rickie Weeks out with a changeup! A really good one! If you read my piece on him earlier this week, you’d know how rare that is — he used that pitch 1% of the time in 2014. If he’s adding a quality change to his repertoire, he could become an entirely different pitcher. A really good entirely different pitcher.

Chris Bassitt mostly followed up with the same quality pitching: 3 IP, 2Ks, 2 BB. Although he was charged with two earned runs, I’d credit those more to Evan Scribner who came in after Bassitt put two on in the 8th inning. Still, Bassitt’s chances of making the rotation are basically null at this point. The bullpen is a possibility, but it’s more likely he opens the year in Nashville as the 6th or 7th starting pitcher.

As for the bats, they… weren’t there, most of the day. Canha, Gentry, and Pridie all doubled — Gentry hit the ball perhaps harder than I’ve ever seen him hit any ball. Vogt took a walk, and Semien hit a sharp line drive that was turned into a double play by an exceptional Brad Miller play. But that was the extent of the offense today. Even the guys fighting desperately for a roster spot — Eric Sogard, Joey Wendle, and Billy Burns — did nothing.

You can’t expect much when a minor league lineup is rolled out there, but the absence of the bats is a bit concerning. Hopefully next game we can expect the A’s to roll out their "A" team, and we can see some dingers.