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Game #58: Sloppy A's drop boring game to Red Sox

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The A's never really came close in a close game thanks to a poor defensive showing and a lackluster effort against RHP Joe Kelly.

Stephen Vogt ponders how the left side of the infield came to be.
Stephen Vogt ponders how the left side of the infield came to be.
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

In a boring and predictable day game, the A's lose to the Boston Red Sox by a final count of 4-2. At least you can't blame the bullpen?

After a 1-2-3 top of the first, the Red Sox got on the board in the bottom of the inning. Dustin Pedroia led off and struck out. Brock Holt followed with a single, and BWH's heartthrob Hanley Ramirez launched a moonshot to center, putting the Red Sox up 2-0. It was a pretty perfect snapshot of what the A's were getting out of Jesse today. Against Pedroia, Chavez hit his spots and got a good hitter to chase a curveball away. He lacked consistency, however, giving the following hitters very hittable pitchers. Even without his best stuff or control, Chavez battled.

The A's showed some life in the third, after Eric Sogard singled sharply up the middle, Billy Burns launched an opposite field triple to deep left. If that ball is hit in Oakland, you might not even get a famous Glenn Kuiper premature homerun call, but alas, we were in Boston, so a triple it is, and the A's cut the lead to 2-1. I don't think I can overstate what a revelation Burns has been. Riding an eleven game hitting streak, he has provided the speed and decent defense we all expected, however his power and consistency have been exciting and needed for a team that so frequently finds itself slumping. If he can figure out how to become the premier basestealer he was in the minors along with matching his defensive value with his abilities, he would be a really good player. The added power can make him a true weapon.

Shutdown innings have been an issue for the A's all year long, and today was no exception. In the bottom of the third, Jesse Chavez retired the first two hitters he faced. With two outs, Hanley Ramirez, who killed the A's all day long, singled past a range-less Max Muncy and under the glove of Marcus Semien. If Brett Lawrie (back issues) is healthy, he gets to that ball, and if we have a top shortstop, that play is made as well. (Note, I'm not blaming Semien for this one, which was way deep in the hole, rather pointing out the absurdity of this half inning). David Ortiz followed with a deep-ish flyball off the leftfield wall for a double, plating Hanley Ramirez and extending the Sox lead to 3-1. Thinking he had a chance to catch the ball, Ben Zobrist ranged all the way back and played the carom terribly. Had he a better read, he could have played the ball off the wall and held Ramirez at third. Mike Napoli followed Big Papi with a shot up the middle past the glove of Semien. While I don't expect my shortstop to make this play, there is no doubt that Semien should have knocked the ball down at the very least, holding Ortiz at third. Instead, the ball shot by Semien into left center, allowing Ortiz to take a chance at scoring. Ben Zobrist fielded the ball cleanly and launched a throw on line to catcher Stephen Vogt with enough time to tag out east coast Country Breakfast, however Vogt dropped the ball, allowing Ortiz to score and extending the lead to 4-1.

Just to recap the defensive horror that was the 3rd, let's count the ways the A's defense could have prevented runs!

  1. A competent third baseman fields Hanley's "single", ending the whole ordeal before it started.
  2. A stellar shortstop fields Hanley's single, ending the inning. Can't be upset here, but if you want to be more frustrated with Semien's defense, watch Andrelton Simmons' highlight reel and tell me he doesn't make that play.
  3. Zobrist plays the carom off the wall properly, and Hanley doesn't score on Ortiz's double. I don't fully blame Ben here, as Fenway is one of the toughest places for a second baseman to play leftfield, but it was totally preventable.
  4. If Semien knocks down Napoli's liner, Ortiz doesn't come close to scoring. Again, if Semien is a stud he makes that play, but he's not, so here we are. I'd like to at least see him knock the ball down.
  5. If Vogt catches Zobrist's throw, it's likely that Ortiz is out.

I'd also like to add in a few "what ifs" here:

  1. Should Zobrist field that ball cleanly, Ortiz likely holds at first. On the following single, if Semien does knock the ball down, he could have gotten Ortiz out at second. If it gets through, Ortiz doesn't score.
  2. I don't want to fault Billy Burns for anything, and I really don't know how hard he was trying, but it took the speedster an awful long time to field Zobrist's missed carom.

Again, the Red Sox scored 2 preventable runs in the 3rd and won by two runs. Do the math.

Yet again, Jesse Chavez got a result he didn't deserve. While he didn't have his best stuff, he battled in true Jesse Chavez fashion, dodging trouble with no help from his defense. He ended the day with a 4 earned runs in 5 innings, giving up 10 hits and striking out five. Again, he received almost no run support, leaving the game with a single tally on the A's half of the scoreboard. On a better team, he would have earned the W while going 6 innings and giving up 3. This is not a good team.

The A's added a final run in the seventh on a Mark Canha homerun off of former Cy Young candidate Ubaldo Jimenez. That's Mark's 7th of the year, and will hopefully be a catalyst for putting him in the lineup more frequently.


After taking a series from the Yankees and sweeping the Tigers, some losses were bound to happen. If the A's can escape town with a win tomorrow, this series' sucktitude will decrease immensely. Winning one of three isn't ideal, but isn't the backbreaker a sweep would be. A loss tomorrow, and we are back to square one. Be sure to be up bright and early for tomorrow's 10:35am first pitch!

The A's are currently what I call good terrible, and today was a perfect microcosm. They hold the division worst record by a decent chunk and are amazing at losing games. However, they are good in that they almost never get blown out and almost every game is winnable. They have the talent to win, but politely refuse. A better break here and make a play there, and the A's are probably around .500. I find myself questioning if I like the A's as good terrible, or if I'd rather they just fully decide to suck. Which would you prefer?