On Friday, June 24th, Chris Bassitt took the mound for the Nashville Sounds and threw 5 sparkling innings, complete with just two hits and a walk against eight strikeouts. Three measly days of rest later, on June 30th, he is called up to replace a violently ill Sonny Gray with the Oakland A's in Oakland. As you can probably guess, Bassitt did a more-than-admirable job filling Gray's shoes. Bassitt threw another five innings, this time with the big club (I use that phrase very, very loosely, you understand), allowing five hits and just one earned run. He pitched well enough to win in a gutsy spot start that really showcased his pitches. He was great. And for that matter, so was the 'pen combination of Rodriguez, O'Flaherty, and Mujica, save for the wild pitch that ultimately produced the losing run. I say that, but everyone who watched the game knows that the pitching was not to blame.
Also, the "Free Mark Canha" experiment went something like this:
I'm going to demonstrate an Oakland Athletics at-bat here:
Step One: Take the first pitch; the gorgeous hittable, batting-practice fastball right down the middle of the plate for a strike.
Step Two: Swing at the second pitch, no matter where in the world it's located; over your head? in the dirt? No problem
Step Three: Congratulations! Now you've dug yourself a 0-2 hole! Good luck hitting anything!
The A's mustered just six hits and a single run in this one, and they murdered their very best chance to score in the sixth inning. Seriously, it is almost a talent in itself to give Billy Burns not one, but two chances to score from third with fewer than two outs and fail, but they did it.
It took both teams until the fourth inning to collect the first hits of the game; Bassitt surrendered two singles in his half, while Zobrist led off the A's inning with a single, but was erased by Phegley's double-play. The Rockies would put their first two runners of the fifth on base via singles, and after retiring two in a row, Bassitt was unable to get the third out, giving up the single for the Rockies' first run. Phegley threw out a base-stealer to end the inning.
Lawrie reached base on an infield single in the fifth on a ball that was overthrown, but from the way he was running, he was unable to recover and take second base, as well. He would immediately regret that decision, as Mark Canha erased him from the game in a double-play...right in front of Semien's double.
But far and away, the A's best chance to score was the sixth, as Burns singled to lead off the inning, was moved to second on a wild pitch, and stole third on the same pitch that walked Vogt. Ben Zobrist's weak grounder to third would have easily thrown Burns out at home, so he kept the Rockies in a run-down long enough for Vogt to reach third and Zobrist to reach second, before scampering back to third to take Vogt's place, as Vogt was called out. Nifty base-running there, to leave the speedy Burns on third. Also, Butler was walked to load the bases. Except with this team, it doesn't matter because Phegley struck out and Lawrie SWUNG AT THE WORST PITCH EVER ON 3-1 TO END THE INNING. Awful, awful at-bat in what would have been the tying run.
A wild pitch by Rodriguez in the seventh put the Rockies up 2-0, and despite a two-out Zobrist double and a two-out Butler single in the eighth to score the A's only run of the game, Phegley struck out to end the threat, and the A's went quickly and quietly into that good night in the ninth. Where all of us wish we could also disappear.
Lack of fundamentals. Really, really poor at-bats. Another loss for the A's. First win for the Rockies in Interleague play. We do it again tomorrow; 12:35PM start. Jesse Hahn will try to win the series for the A's.