Baseball is supposed to be fun, but sometimes it is just. So. Boring. Today was one of those days.
Kendall Graveman and Ian Kennedy, he of a 5.84 ERA entering the day, found themselves in the unlikeliest of pitchers duels, going 3 frames with no real threats. The Padres struck first offensively on a solo shot by Matt Kemp in the fourth. It wasn't a bad pitch, as Kemp went down to hit a low and away slider out to leftfield. It was just a damn good job of hitting by the Padres' temporary DH. Matt Kemp is the DHiest DH of all time. Someone in the American League desperately needs to trade for that guy and stick him at DH, if only to keep the children of America from picking up his horrible, horrible outfield tendencies.
Those pesky former A's
The Padres got on the board again in the sixth, as catcher Derek Norris took a cutless cutter out down the left field line. I think going forward, the A's should just IBB every single former player that comes through the Coliseum. But anyway. That was all the damage Kendall Graveman would allow, going seven innings while striking out six and walking just one. The homeruns have become somewhat of an issue for a guy who is supposed to get groundballs, but lately, he's been great. Since being recalled from AAA near the end of May, Kendall Graveman's ERA is 2.27. Just imagine if he stops giving up homeruns.
Graveman didn't pitch quite as well as his last few outings, and appeared to fade after the fourth or so inning. Of his 6 strikeouts, 5 came before the fourth, and after the fourth, he only got 2 groundballs. Still, it was nothing short of a solid outing, and early on he looked dominant.
The Not Pesky Current A's
The A's scored their lone run in the bottom of the sixth, as Josh Phegley hit a dinger down the left field line, making us forget Derek Norris yet again. Phegley's emergence against RHP has come as Vogt's brilliance has faded, keeping the catcher position a strength on this team. With Ike Davis supposedly returning soon, look for a little more rest for Stephen Vogt with little sacrifice to Phegley's playing time.
Unfortunately, Phegley's blast was it for the A's who had few chances against can of gasoline, Ian Kennedy. After scoring 16 a night ago, it is only fitting that Kennedy would shut down the A's, allowing runners in scoring position only 3 times (plus the Phegley solo shot) and generally breezing through innings. The A's best chance at scoring again also came in the 6th. Following Phegley's shot, Billy Burns scorched a rising liner to short, which was caught by Clint Barmes. Marcus Semien hit a one out double down the line, and moved to third on a hard groundout by Reddick. Should Burns linedrive find a hole or be hit a foot and a half higher, and the A's have a run. Ditto if Reddick's bullet doesn't find the glove of second baseman Denard Spagenberg (or something like that). Stephen Vogt struck out swinging to end the frame, stranding Semien at third.
The A's had a bit of a scary moment in the eighth. Melvin Upton Jr. hit a shot to deep right center off the wall between Billy Burns and Josh Reddick. Burns leapt to catch the ball, but unfortunately caught two, both belonging to Reddick. Following the collision, Burns hustled to get the ball into the infield as Upton cruised into third, but Reddick stayed down. It was very reminiscent of the wild card game, as it was a totally catchable ball miffed due to outfield traffic, with less psychological damage for the fanbase. After trainers and Melvin checked in on Reddick, the right fielder decided to stay in the game unharmed, save potential children. See below.
Upton would end up scoring on a weird, Coliseum only sac fly to first baseman Stephen Vogt. Vogt caught pop up off the bat of Justin Upton about 15 feet from the bullpen mound, and with his momentum carrying him the wrong way, was unable to gun down Melvin at home. It's an interesting play strategically, where Vogt easily could have dropped the ball to prevent the run from scoring, but giving the Padres' best hitter another shot at driving in the run, and further extending the inning. At the very least, it's an interesting conversation piece for an otherwise uninteresting day of baseball.
Lost in the right field clustermuck is the fact that Fernando Rodriguez is our guy in the 8th inning of a 2-1 game. Our bullpen meltdowns are especially memorable when they directly cough up a lead, but Rodriguez's appearance in a late, one run game shows just how thin the bullpen really is. Get healthy, Pat. Seriously, in a one run game, Bob Melvin chose a guy who gives up 1 run per every two innings. And he's not really wrong, either. But hey, that's the state of the A's pen. Our best option in 8th is a coin flip with slightly worse odds. Christ. On a lighter bullpen note, Evan Scribner pitched a clean ninth. Yay!
In true A's fashion, the bottom of the ninth would not pass without a tease. Marcus Semien struck out on a 97 MPH heater from Padres' closer Craig Kimbrel. Josh Reddick flew out to horrible outfielder Justin Upton for the second out, and it looked like the A's were done. However, IBI Stephen Vogt laced a double down the right field line, and the A's were in business. Unfortunately for the A's, DH Billy Butler followed. If only there were some method in which we could dictate which order our best and worst players hit, getting guys that are less likely to succeed fewer at bats. If only. I'm not a huge Butler hater, but his numbers against RHP are subpar, and Craig Kimbrel just might be the best RHP in baseball. I would love to see Bob Melvin make the bold move of putting a Max Muncy (or Ike Davis, should he be healthy) in that situation. But alas, we did not, and Billy Butler struck out on three filthy offspeed pitches to end the game.
It's a blessing and a curse doing Thursday games, which are almost always series' finales. Regardless of how the rest of the series went, it's impossible to not be emotionally swept up by the series finale, which is how I feel now. Taking 3 of 4 from any team is a good thing, and is exactly how you get back in a race. But man, sweeping a 4 game series would have been so sweet, and winning a fifth straight would really get the momentum going. I just can't not be upset by losing a winnable game against a bad pitcher.
At any rate, the A's did take 3 of 4 from a team that overall isn't bad, and that's a start. Join us tomorrow as our heated rivals The Angels come to town! Do you hate the Angels? Cause I do!