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Game #10: Collin McHugh dominates, A's go down meekly 6-1

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Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The seemingly feast-or-famine A’s went hungry today. They simply couldn’t solve the enigma that is Collin McHugh, despite their best efforts and a couple of rallies.

Make no mistake: Collin McHugh is really, really good. In fact, since the All-Star break last year, he’s been a top-ten pitcher by both ERA and FIP. He came out of absolutely nowhere, but that doesn’t mean this is a case of the A’s being dominated by a random junkballer, like Colby Lewis or Jerome Williams. This is a case of a dominant, top-of-the-rotation-pitcher doing dominant, top-of-the-rotation-pitcher things.

The A’s had one legitimate threat in today’s game: in the top of the second inning, the A’s scored one run on 4 hits (Semien got the RBI). This is starting to become a problem with the Billy Butler-centered offense — when Billy Butler gets on base, it takes 3 more consecutive singles to score him. He simply is not fast, and hasn’t scored from second base on a single yet this year. That’s not good.

Then again, we wouldn’t be having this discussion if he wasn’t constantly on-base. So maybe this isn’t so much a problem as it is a "slight inconvenience".

That’s about as much as you can say about the offense this evening. The A’s as a team struck out 13 times. They drew no walks. They did manage to get a couple of deep counts off of Astros pitching, knocking out a cruising Collin McHugh after 5.2 innings and 102 pitches. But other than that minor moral victory, the best offense in the AL coming into the game just couldn’t get anything going.

Drew Pomeranz also disappointed. In 5 innings, he gave up 4 runs. The vast majority of the damage came from old friend Jed Lowrie, because of course he’s going to kill us this year. He ended up with 3 RBIs, courtesy of a two run homer in the first inning and an RBI double.

Pomeranz actually didn’t look bad, at all. He made very few bad pitches, he only walked one, he located well and he got his strikeouts. Honestly, I think this was just "one of those games" for him. He pitched well, but hitters managed to hit him. It happens. I’m still impressed by the strides he’s taken since last season.

Some other notable performances:

  • Evan Scribner pitched the 6th and the 7th inning, giving up a solo home run to Luis Valbuena while striking out 3. R.J. Alvarez pitched the 8th, giving up a solo home run to Evan Gattis. They both looked really, really good. But alas, mistakes happen and mistakes get launched 421 feet. I’m really comfortable with Scribner and Alvarez in the bullpen, and it’s a shame someone’s going to have to go down when Doolittle comes back.
  • There were two pickoffs today! Pomeranz got Jose Altuve in the 5th, and Stephen Vogt unleashed a great throw to catch Lowrie leaning a bit too far off of first base in the 6th inning. I’ve always been a huge proponent of the pickoff — I really think there’s no more satisfying play in baseball — so this game at least had something going for it, I guess.
  • It is the 10th game of the season and Sam Fuld has tripled 3 times. If Fuld has a massive breakout campaign, I am going to laugh so hard at the game of baseball. That's ridiculous.

This game was boring. Good thing the Royals are terrible the best team in baseball, I guess. I don't even know. Okay.