Oakland veteran Coco Crisp made his 2015 debut tonight after elbow surgery in the Spring sidelined him for two months. Bob Melvin appropriately placed Coco in his usual slot at the top of the batting order, but like many other things for the A's tonight, things didn't quite go to plan. That is unless your favorite part of baseball is listening to announcers go into excruciating historical detail about opposing relievers. Oh, you didn't know J.R. Graham went to Livermore High School? Well I have a tale for you . . .
But in all seriousness, Scott Kazmir initially looked good, but faltered in the third inning. After a 1-2-3 first the Twins mustered a single in the second without more. The bottom of the third was led off by Eddie Rosario making his Major League debut. In historical fashion, Rosario swatted his first Major League pitch from Kazmir over the right field wall for an opposite field home run; the first of his career, of course. He became the 29th player in MLB history and first Minnesota Twin to hit a home run on his very first pitch in the majors.
Rosario's home run made the game 0-1 Twins and was an interesting moment to witness, but it was a sign of things to come for Kazmir who then unraveled giving up triple-walk-single to his next three batters. The A's were now down 0-2 before Kazmir recorded an out. Trevor Plouffe came to the plate with men at the corners. He hit an almost double down the line that landed two feet foul, but settled for a single to put the game at 0-3 Twins. Kazmir's meltdown continued as he threw a wild pitch that allowed Torii Hunter to advance to third base before Eduardo Escobar hit a sac fly to the warning track that extended the Twins' lead to 0-4.
Meanwhile, the A's bats were being quieted by Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson. Oakland went down 1-2-3 in the first and third innings before Reddick led off the fourth with a double. The A's couldn't bring Reddick home, however, and failed again in the fifth as lead-off singles by Brett Lawrie and Marcus Semien were wasted. What's worse, Lawrie and Semien were stranded by Coco who hit into an inning ending double play. This simply was not the debut Coco envisioned when he was on that plane ride to Minneapolis.
Kazmir recovered, though, to keep the A's temporarily in the game. He induced Rosario into a double play in the fourth and had a 1-2-3 fifth that saw Reddick do this:
But Reddick's supreme catch failed to ignite the Oakland offense as another runner was stranded in the top of the sixth. On the other hand, Kazmir entered the bottom of the sixth at 79 total pitches having just thrown two efficient frames. With vivid memories of a 7-run eighth inning, the A's fan base was optimistic that 4 runs was a surmountable obstacle for this team. Late inning rallies are becoming this team's forte. Perhaps tonight would see another memorable surge from the Green & Gold.
Ambitious aspiration was not to be, however, as the next three innings would see the Twins score nine runs to put this one out of reach. Firstly, Kazmir started the sixth with a walk to Plouffe and a home run to Escobar to make it 0-6 Twins. Sadly, on the pitch before the home run, Escobar just barely nicked strike three to stay alive. This was not Kazmir's preferred way to spend an evening, either. Final line: 6.0 innings, 7 hits, 6 earned, 2 walks, 4 Ks, having given up two home runs.
After Oakland stranded two more runners, Chad Smith came on to replace Kazmir for the seventh and immediately started drowning. His batters would go single-HBP-walk-single before inducing Plouffe into a RBI ground out. Escobar then doubled in the 9th and 10th runs for the Twins before Melvin mercifully pulled Smith for Francisco Abad, who retired his next two batters for at least a little positive takeaway from this game.
In the eighth, the A's went down meekly 1-2-3 before R.J. Alvarez made his case for a trip to Nashville (if only there was someone to replace him with). Alvarez got two outs, but not without allowing a double and walk to give pinch hitter Kennys Vargas an opportunity with two men on. Vargas proceeded to rocket an Alvarez pitch 428 feet into the second deck at Target field for a three-run shot. Alvarez has now given up four home runs in 9.0 innings pitched. Final score Twins 13, A's 0.
Some positives, like I said earlier, are that Abad got two batters out in a row. Also, Marcus Semien and Lawrie both went 2 for 3. On the negative we have Coco's debut. He went hitless with 4 left on base. Plus, tonight the A's were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
Since this is a blowout I'm going to take the opportunity to practice embeding a video from MLB.com, which in this case is Shane Robinson's ridiculous catch to end the game with his team leading by 13 runs:
The weather forecast calls for rain tomorrow in the Twin Cities region, so expect the 10 am Pacific start time to be delayed.
- Semien has seven multi-hit games in his last 14