This was a terrible, predictable, and terribly predictable game from start to finish.
Roberto Hernandez, old man, bad pitcher, and name changer (you probably know him better as Fausto Carmona) pitched 6 innings of two run baseball against the A's. I'm not going to elaborate much here, because the real pain here happened later on, but the A's had chances and converted few, all while running into three outs on the base-paths. The highlight offensively against Harmondezna was a dinger by Max Muncy, who is very likable, and very much feels like the kind of player on a 100 loss team.
For the A's, Sonny Gray just didn't have it today, and neither did homeplate umpire Andy Fletcher. Sonny dredged his way through 5 innings, throwing 105 pitches while allowing three runs. It was a gritty performance that probably deserved a better line in spite of Sonny's lack of stuff. An inconsistent zone led to the elevated pitch count, but Sonny was one mistake from yet another sterling start, at least results wise. Sonny without his best stuff is still a damn good pitcher, and he is a bright spot on this team.
The Astro's opened the scoring with a 2 run homerun by Chris Carter in the second. Chris Carter was hitting .160 coming into this game, but, he's a former A, so this had to happen. Sonny gave up another run in the 5th after walking two batters on questionable calls, and allowing a single with infield in.
Following Gray, the pen actually looked decent to start, as Fernando Rodriguez breezed through his first two innings with only an infield single blemishing his record. Melvin decided to trot him out for a 3rd inning in the 8th, giving the bullpen a much needed rest after Monday's long performance. With one out, FRod walked Jake Marisnick. In spite of Fernando Abad's total inability to get out LHH this year, Melvin called on the lefty to face Colby Rasmus, and AN turned into Nostradamus. Abad gave up the 2 run dinger to Rasmus that we all predicted extending the Astro lead to 5-2, and taking us out of a totally winnable game. Jason Castro hit yet another left handed bomb off the Abad to make the score 6-2.
Now I don't want to put too much of that on Bob Melvin. Abad is the sole lefty in the bullpen (#FreePV) and there really aren't enough low leverage innings to go around. But it is beyond clear at this point that Abad is not a LOOGY, nor a good pitcher. I'm not convinced he's done, but the A's really, really need to stop putting him in high leverage situations. Melvin continues to use struggling relievers in their usual roles, and while you can never know what would have happened, it's hard not to imagine this as a win if Scribner, or Castro, or anyone not named Abad comes in the game.
No loss would be complete a good teAse, as the A's tacked on two in the ninth thanks to a Vogt walk, a Muncy double, a Lawrie single, and a Canha GIDP. Face of the MLB, bat of the PCL Eric Sogard walked to keep the rally alive, but Billy Burns struck out to end the game. I don't think any of us properly appreciated the hilarity that is Eric Sogard and Billy Burns coming to the plate in a 2 run game in the ninth. Both are perfectly servicable players, and Burns is looking like he really could stick, but the lack of slugging of those two in that scenario is painful, and probably historic. Seriously, is there a less likely duo in baseball to score two runs in two plate appearances than Eric Sogard and Billy Burns?
The A's ultimately lost by two runs, which could they easily could have had. In the second, Brett Lawrie was thrown out at home on an infield hit by Sam Fuld. It was a close play at the plate that could have likely been avoided had Lawrie ran hard the whole way (he was coming from second), but it's hard to be upset over a play that close. Earlier in the frame, Muncy was thrown out at the plate on a slightly overaggressive call by Gags. I personally don't mind the aggressive call, but in yet another close loss, it's an easy place to find a potentially game changing play.
Some other notes:
-Coco Crisp left the game with neck tightness. I think we all know a little more time off and a little more rehab could do Coco very well.
-Was anyone listening to the Astros broadcast? I've never appreciated Ray/Glen more. The Stro's guys make Hawk seem bearable.
-I hate it when normally crappy teams get good. They annoy me far more than they should, and I already hate the Astros.
-Max Muncy looks like he was genetically engineered to be named Max Muncy.
-It looks like Stephen Vogt is starting to slow down some, which is to be expected. I imagine he'll have the day off tomorrow, and hopefully he'll get back to his hitting ways his next time out.
-On the other side of things, Brett Lawrie is starting to heat up. With a double (take that, slugging percentage) and two singles today, Lawrie raised his average to a respectable .268. I'm starting to get excited about our new third baseman.
Some solutions for the A's:
-Have Billy Butler take batting practice for hours with Semien at short. All Billy Butler ever freaking does is hit groundballs and Semien needs practice. I can only assume we signed him to save Semien from all those grounders, so we might as well put him to good use.
-Pat Venditte. Need I say more? I honestly think he's got a chance to come up after Abad's horrible performance. Abad is clearly not a LOOGY at this point, more of a L2HRGY (Lefty 2 home run guy). With effectively 0 LH arms in the A's pen, there is no time like the present for Pat Venditte.
-Be better at running the bases. I don't really know what to say here, other than, seriously? 2 outs at home and Burns TOOTBLANing at second was a major factor in the A's only putting up 4 runs.
Jesse Hahn starts for the A's tomorrow bright and early! Yet another great opportunity to start a winning streak!