I'm not really sure how to feel about this one. This had all the makings of a moderate blowout, a typical getaway day game where the A's don't even come close. Through 6, that's what this game was. I almost prefer the slow, predictable march towards defeat, aided by Ryan Cook and his missing command. Instead, we fell a few feet short of one of the greatest walkoffs in A's regular season history.
Things went laboriously enough for Jesse Chavez, who just didn't have his best stuff today. A week ago, his fastball touched 94 and while his control wasn't great, his stuff was electric. Today, Jesse had neither the great stuff (although he still looked like a big league pitcher) nor the control, nor any help whatsoever from home plate umpire Ted Barrett. Sitting at 89-91, Jesse missed spots while throwing oodles of pitches.
Chavez's His final line reads 5 innings pitched with 4 earned runs allowed. Not a great start, but his team was in the game. He gave up most of the damage in the fifth on a Kole Calhoun single and a David Freese fielders choice, and looked a little gassed by that point.
A game like today seemed like the perfect opportunity to put in a struggling Ryan Cook, or Eric O'Flaherty, or both if you're into that pain kinda thing. The combo of relief walkers gave up two runs in two and 2/3rd innings pitched, which feels like a victory but if you're doing the math at home, contributed greatly to our loss. I don't have much to add to the bullpen situation, other than having a bad bullpen clearly affects games that don't seem close. Something needs to be done.
The A's finally got on the board in the bottom of the seventh, on the strength of Mark Canha's (3-4 on the day) home run. It was a welcome site for a guy who has disappeared off the face of the depth chart the past few weeks. Canha's start against a RHP is mainly dictated by injuries, but with alternates Cody Ross and Craig Gentry hitting a combined .156 (no, seriously), look for Canha to earn more at bats against RHP in the days before Coco returns.
Enter the ninth, which feels like a completely different game than the rest of the day. With the A's down 6-2, Billy Butler stepped in the box looking to be the rally starter. Seeing Butler up with nobody on first was a huge relief, and I hope Bob Melvin changes the lineup to get Butler fewer looks with runners on first. He's a great hitter, and I don't think the GIDPs are a huge issue, but he's a guy who could work surprisingly well in the 1 or 2 hole. But let's be real, no one cares in the slightest about batting order right now. A dropped foul ball by CJ Cron was all it took to get the A's going. Butler walked on a damn good at bat and Josh Reddick singled early in the count to end the day for Angels' reliever Vinnie Pestano, who is definitely the mob boss on an episode of Law and Order.
Old friend/nemesis Huston Street took the reigns for the Halos, and looked utterly horrible. Brett Lawrie, who looks great and isn't flailing at anything with spin, scorched a single to center and Mark Canha followed with a knock to right to make it a 6-4 game. Both at bats were nothing short of beautiful, and a wonderful reminder that both hitters are not terrible, in spite of what the last two weeks would tell you.
A Vogt pinch hit walk (for Sogard) would load the bases for pinch hitter Max Muncy. That is where we are at folks, Max Muncy is pinch hitting in the ninth of a tight game. I hate injuries. After Muncy popped out weakly to short left, Sam Fuld came to the plate hoping to end his 0-19 skid, and end it he did. Sam ripped a liner up the middle, plating only a single run, which for those of you who are math deficient, was a problem.
Hindsight is 20/20 and Mark Canha's is 20/80. On a clear base hit to center (check the comments), Canha was held up at third after freezing on a line drive. That is a play he really, really needs to score on. With only 1 out, Gallego made the correct call to hold him at third, as he would have been thrown out by 20 feet (per a good relay) and the A's still had two shots left. A good read by Canha or a mediocre read by a Craig Gentry, and you've got yourself a tie ballgame. Again, hindsight is 20/20 but these are the kind of small errors the A's seem to making which leads to being 5 games under .500.
Semien stepped in the box with a chance to be the hero with a productive out or a base hit. Instead, Marcus popped out to 12 year old second baseman Johnny Giovatella. I almost feel bad for how much I hate that guy. Semien's pop up is another microcosm of the problems plaguing this team as a productive out ties the game for the A's. I by no means blame the offense for our current record, but moments like these are a cruel reminder of how close we are to being near the top of the AL west.
Ike Davis ended the game on a well hit ball to center and a nice play by Trout. It was a painful end, but I still like Ike, and it was a solid at bat.
The A's are unequivocally not this bad. They may not be a playoff team, and even if they are good enough these losses might keep them out. But in spite of how absolutely painful this game was, there is still a lot of reason to believe in this team. The A's are off to Texas, so at least we can't lose to the Angels.