Quote from the text I just received: "For the first time in my life, I can honestly say without a doubt that I could not have hit worse than Brett Lawrie in a Major League baseball game tonight."
As much fun as the A's had last night, tonight seemed a much more tense affair for players like Craig Gentry and Marcus Semien, both of whom seemed lost and pressing at the plate. But neither had anything on the golden sombrero that Brett Lawrie took home, literally striking out on the same curve/slider twelve times, equaling four strikeouts. I'm not exaggerating. Lawrie saw just twelve pitches and turned them into four strikeouts. How to pitch Brett Lawrie? Throw a strike down the middle. Throw it somewhere else. He'll then swing at anything. It was ugly; a day best left at the yard and forgotten in time for the game tomorrow night.
Rest assured that the three Texas runs looked worse than they really were; A's pitching wasn't even close to the problem in tonight's loss. Jesse Hahn had a pretty good six innings, his three (or two; I've seen both in print) earned runs were courtesy of some pretty annoying small ball by the Rangers, and an error by Craig Gentry in the outfield. He did allow 7 hits, which is a lot, but he walked no one and struck out three, and he certainly kept the A's in the game as long as he possibly could. He was pulled after 93 pitches and the sixth inning, in a move I really liked, since many thought he threw too long last season. His replacements did a fine job; between Eric O'Flaherty (who K'd two of his three batters), Jesse Chavez, and Fernando Abad, Texas didn't score another run.
The game does raise several questions, such as, "When Craig Gentry finally reaches base for the only time all night, why is it even a possibility that he'll be erased in a double play?" "Literally the only thing he could have done to help the team tonight is steal a base; why didn't he?"
The A's would live to regret not getting to Colby Lewis in the first inning; from that shaky moment on, Lewis did nothing but induce hitters into pop-ups. Apparently buoyed by his home run in his first at-bat, Ben Zobrist drew two 3-1 counts and popped up on both of them, joining the host of players struggling at the plate. Super Sam Fuld, batting lead-off, had two of the A's five hits, including an infield single to open the game. After Sogard walked on four straight to put two on, Zobrist popped up and Butler grounded into an inning-ending double-play. Expect to see that a lot; Butler hits the cover off the ball and is slow; a perfect recipe for the dreaded double-play.
Texas got on the board in the third inning as a two-out bloop single by Prince Fielder (after a questionable non-called strike three) scored Rougned Odor, who was the victim of the second A's pitcher in two days to hit him. Three singles and an error plated the other two runs in the fifth inning, and I'm still fighting for an unearned run on the last play for Hahn; the call initially credited the error, and now has been changed back to an earned run.
Gentry walked with one out in the 3rd inning, bringing up Sam Fuld. Here's the thing: 1) With the stolen base, Gentry can score from second base on a single, 2) It's not like Gentry would be thrown out in front of a power hitter, 3) How about staying out of the double-play, and 4) It's your best weapon! Fuld saw five pitches and Gentry didn't move.
Super Sam Fuld finally broke through in the sixth with a one-out triple, and since Eric Sogard had the good fortune of batting second (yes, that's correct), Sogard's patented weak ground ball was just perfect to score the A's only run of the game.
The seventh inning was really the heartbreaking inning. Butler singled to open the inning, and Davis walked to put two on. After one of Lawrie's strikeouts, Vogt smoked a single; hitting it just too hard for Billy Butler to score from second. With the bases loaded and one out, Semien worked a full count, in one of his better at-bats of the night, but swung protecting the plate at ball four, grounding into yet another dreaded rally-killing double-play and the A's came away empty and went quietly. A Texas error brought up Lawrie as the tying run in the ninth, but well...we all know how that song went today.
We do this again; same time, same place. See you tomorrow for Game #3!