For fans of the A's, or baseball everywhere, the highlight of the game was baseball seeing its second switch pitcher since 1900, one Mr. Pat Venditte. And unlike the first time this happened, this is no gimmick. Apparently, he is that interesting. Venditte pitched the seventh and the eighth inning, allowing just one very weak hit and following that up with a double play. As predicted, there was minor confusion about the rules, but overall it seemed that everyone was prepared. Josh Phegley to his credit seemed to be just fine catching him.
From the left side, he started feeding a steady diet of sliders to Brock Holt with a couple of change ups mixed in. Holt meekly grounded to first. He then went right handed, breaking Hanley Ramirez's bat with a change up, but Hanley's grounder found a hole. He was immediately retired on a double play, induced off the bat of Mike Napoli via a right-handed fastball clocked at 86 mph.
His second inning was just as smooth. Xander Boegarts worked a nine pitch at bat, featuring Venditte's cutter and change from the right side, and was dispatched with another groundball out. Venditte stayed on the right side for Mookie Betts, who hit a liner that carried out to Josh Reddick. On the final at bat the confusion happened when he was to face switch hitter Blake Swihart. Venditte, per the rules, chose his side first, opting to stay right handed. Swihart struck out on a change up as part of an at bat in which Venditte featured a curveball. That is technically five different pitches we saw already out of him, and it was pretty darn exciting.
As for the rest of the game, Scott Kazmir didn't really have it tonight. He missed his last start and perhaps was a bit rusty. What bothered me more was that rather than just attempt to pitch his game he let factors out of his control get to him. He was frustrated with the umpire (and probably with himself). He didn't get the calls he wanted and then kept missing through the fat part of the plate. Also Dustin Pedroia is batting lifetime about .500 against him and owned him again today (he went 3-4 with two runs scored). Unfortunately, Kazmir's defense also let him down. Ben Zobrist, playing left field due to his extensive experience with the Green Monster as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays, bobbled a ball that allowed the aforementioned Pedroia to race home and take a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
In the third, Kazmir allowed a rocket off the bat of Rusney Castillo, but Zobrist played the carom beautifully off the Monster and held him to a single. A grounder from Pedroia ended up as another single, and Castillo couldn't even advance to third. Kazmir almost limited the damage with a double play ball to Marcus Semien. This time, it wasn't an error, but Brock Holt's speed down the line that prevented the double play after Pedroia was out at second. Semien probably could have gone to third base to get the lead runner but I can't fault him for going for two on that. Ramirez followed with a sacrifice fly to Reddick, who was way off on the throw. A good through wouldn't have gotten Castillo anyway, but Holt moved to the second. The error ended up not mattering, and the score remained 2-0.
By the end of the fourth, the Red Sox had 7 hits and three runs. The A's had one hit and two errors. Against Wade Miley. And they weren't even hitting the ball hard. Gross.
Brett Lawrie went way over the Monster with a solo shot on a three-hit day, and the A's had runners on second and third with two outs in the ninth, but Mark Canha couldn't complete the comeback. A couple of key moments were ruined by Eric Sogard (2 on, 2 out in the 5th, K looking) and Billy Butler (2 on, 1 out in the 6th, GIDP on the first pitch way outside). Overall the offense was weak, and perhaps tired from travel.
Also, Lawrie gave the A's a third error, airmailing a barehand throw that he had no business throwing. That allowed a runner to score. He has nine errors now, and this was a complete lack of judgment. That's a whopping 28 errors for the left side of the A's infield. That is just insane.
Unfortunately, Lawrie's solid day was marred by an incident that was no fault of his own. In the second inning, a fan was hit by a shard off his broken bat. She was at the game with her son. She was bleeding profusely and rushed to the hospital while her son looked on. The grim scene unfortunately does not have a happy ending yet, as she apparently has life threatening injuries.
Please say a prayer or send positive thoughts to her and her family. No one should have to suffer an injury like that simply taking in a ballgame. I will not link to the grisly visuals, but you can view more details on Deadspin, Hardball Talk, and other baseball websites if you want more detail.
- Eric O'Flaherty came off the disabled list and pitched a solid sixth inning. In fact, the bullpen (Fernando Rodriguez, O'Flaherty, and Venditte) did not allow a run after Kazmir was pulled after 4⅔ innings.
- The A's are now at 57 errors in 57 games. A's marketing should try to work in a Heinz sponsorship out of this. "57 errors always have the A's playing ketchup!" (sorry guys, Nico made me do it).