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Game #63: A's Lose Seesaw Home Run Derby Battle

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Move along, folks. Nothing to see here. The A's almost looked like a real baseball team for seven innings tonight, battling back from two different deficits as the Angels scored 1, the A's scored 2, the Angels scored 2, the A's scored 2 to take the lead, but their one good-ish bullpen member gave up two home runs to lose the game, and very nearly gave up three.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

It was on the tip of my tongue to remind everyone that the A's have won three out of their last four series and have looked so much better, including in tonight's game, in which they battled all night to secure a 4-3 lead going to the bottom of the eighth inning. But then I remembered **** this bullpen to ****, you underachieving ******** *******. Also **** ******. And *****.

Is there really anything else to say? In two ill-timed, horrible pitches, Evan Scribner ruined a hard-fought, promising game that would have opened the weekend series with a win. Jesse Chavez battled his guts out and the offense really picked up some big two out hits and some confidence, and it doesn't matter a single bit because our bullpen decided to play home run derby in the middle of a game.

These games happen. I get that. You'll have the right pitcher in to face the heart of the order, he'll have a bad night, and you'll get burned. If the A's hadn't already lost approximately 40 other games IN THIS EXACT SAME WAY this season, we could let this one go. But c'mon. Who isn't tired of watching this like bad loop of Groundhog Day?

The game started with a promising at-bat by Burns as he battled Santiago by fouling off a few tough pitches en route to the lead-off walk. Unfortunately, Canha did not take his example and struck out on the first three pitches he saw and Josh Reddick flew out nearly to the wall, leaving Burns at first base, without even a chance to steal a base against Santiago, who has allowed more stolen bases than you would guess from a lefty pitcher. A two-out infield single by Ben Zobrist finally moved Burns to second base, but Billy Butler. You already know. Called strike three. In his defense, it looked at first glance that he was arguing a pretty clear strike three call down the middle, but he was upset that time wasn't granted by the umpire and wasn't ready for the pitch. Still. I might have been secretly hoping he was kicked out for arguing balls and strikes.

Billy Burns would get on base again in the third with a nifty infield hit to second base, of all places, but once again, he wouldn't move from first until he was forced out on a scalded ball by Canha that was stopped at third. Just for contrast, Mark Canha stole two bases against Santiago tonight.

The Angels jumped on the board 1-0 with an early double and a single in the second. The A's would take the lead in the fourth on two pretty back-to-back home runs by Brett Lawrie and Josh Phegley.

All was well until the sixth inning, when a Trout single and a Pujols rocket double set up a two-RBI Calhoun single, that Burns couldn't field cleanly.  The inning might have continued if not for a hell of a play by Lawrie, catching a high chopper barehanded and firing across the diamond to get the out. I mean, if the runner was out; he wasn't, but since Scioscia challenged Canha's second stolen base earlier in the game, the Angels didn't have a challenge in the bank. Scioscia got his money's worth out of the play and was summarily ejected from the game. Lawrie wasn't content with his fake web gem, so he ended the inning with a gorgeous catch near the dugout, nearly crashing into the fence on the way.

The A's would reward his effort. After Semien and Burns went down quickly to start the seventh, Mark Canha basically created his own base hit by expertly throwing his bat at the ball and hitting it hard just to the right of the mound. He was an important baserunner when Josh Reddick put a two-run blast into the stands to put the A's right back in the lead.

Semien made a great turn on a double-play and looked like a real shortstop for a moment in the seventh inning, as Jesse Chavez closed out a gutsy performance, going seven full innings. The A's opted for defense late; Sam Fuld replaced Canha and Andy Parrino replaced Semien in the bottom of the eighth inning. As it turned out, the defensive replacements didn't matter, as Evan Scribner gave up the game-tying home run to Mike Trout as his first batter. I won't talk about the to-the-wall-ball that he gave up to Pujols, because it didn't matter when he threw a third consecutive home run pitch to Calhoun for his chance to homer, and just like that; the Angels were back on top 5-4.

Most of the A's hits were with two outs today, including their 3 home runs, and that would be a good sign, if the bullpen hadn't dug the A's a hole deep enough that there might be no way to recover. The A's put on a good teAse in the ninth, as Fuld singled and Sogard, pinch-hitting for Parrino, walked, and Josh Reddick took Huston Street all the way to the full count before flying out. Bright side? Street threw 26 pitches?

No. No bright side. The A's lose a game they should have won. Whatcha gonna do?