Last place teams have a tendency to play bad games. Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, was one of those games. The A's got one hit tonight, which combined with the two hits last night equates to . . . you guessed it: three hits in 18 innings of baseball. Did you want icing on your cake? The A's only run scored tonight was unearned. One hit and one run that wasn't even deserved. Welcome to fire-sale baseball.
The great thing about being a seller, though, is that we get to see all the great talent that will help the A's next season. Tonight, Kendall Graveman showed us why we should maintain hope for 2016. Admittedly, Kendall's 2015 season has been a bit of roller coaster, but tonight he showed the promise a 24-year starting pitcher can give to a franchise. His past three starts gave him trouble, but the young right-hander performed admirably tonight, even showing off his glove-work in the first inning:
Kendall went on to shine in his 6+ innings of work. After escaping the first with his great diving play that would have otherwise dribbled to the shifted Eric Sogard in right field, he would go 1-2-3 in the second and third innings. A portion of the praise goes to Billy Burns who made a great over-the-shoulder catch in center to bolster his confidence even further playing the position. In the fourth, Francisco Lindor beat out an infield single, but Kendall made a swift move to pick him off at first before retiring the next two batters for a quasi-1-2-3 fourth. The Cleveland fifth was interrupted with a grounder that ate up Sogard, but Kendall would escape the inning after a great play by Mark Cahna to catch a foul ball in the home bullpen. Another 1-2-3 sixth saw Kendall leave the frame with six scoreless on only 82 pitches.
In the seventh, Kendall got the first two outs, but gave up back-to-back hits to create his first emergency of the evening. With two out, men on second and third he induced Giovanny Urshela into a chopper to short. Arguably, Marcus Semien made a great play to field the ball, but his errant throw to pull Ike Davis off first was scored an error and scored Yan Gomes from third. Kendall would walk Michael Bourn to load the bases before Fernando Rodriguez got the third out, but the unearned run would be Kendall's only blemish going 6.2 with six strikeouts and two walks.
At this point the score was tied 1-1, however, as the A's had pushed one across earlier in the game. (WARNING: If you're like me and prefer to ignore all that's wrong in this great wide-world of ours, then turn away now, because the A's are coming to the plate.) Like last night, the A's were struggling on offense. Against Danny Salazar the A's went down 1-2-3 in first and second innings before finally breaking through in the third. Cahna would lead off the inning with a walk before Sogard singled him to third. Now with no out, men at the corners Semien hit a grounder to third that Urshela dropped, causing a late throw that scored Cahna.
A run, albeit unearned, that should have turned into so much more for the A's who still had two on with nobody out. Unfortunately, Burns would strike out before a Brett Lawrie fielder's choice. Reddick then approached with his Roddy Rowdy Piper tribute bagpipes still with two on, but he would pop out to end the threat.
And by end the threat, I mean end the only threat, because the A's would mount nary an ant hill the rest of the game. In the midst of Cleveland tying the game on their own unearned run, the A's would be set down 18 in a row by Danny Salazar. Fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth; all 1-2-3 innings for Danny. As the A's went through their normal rotation of relievers; Fernando to Drew Pomeranz to Edward Mujica, Danny sat the A's down in order, even taking the time to warm up in the bullpen during Cleveland at bats.
Entering the top of the ninth A's closer Edward stayed in the game to attempt to bring this to extras at the least. Unfortunately, he allowed a lead-off single to Lonnie Chisenhall, who would go on to steal second. After an Urshela K, next up was Michael Bourn, who had 12 extra-base hits all season going into tonight, but wouldn't ya know, he picked the perfect time for his 13th. Bourn would hit a ground-rule double over the wall to score Chisenhall to put Cleveland up 2-1. Fernando Abad would get the last out before the A's would go down, you guessed it, 1-2-3 in the ninth to meekly end the game.
The result was perhaps a disappointment to all those doing the wave earlier in the evening. Or even to those who stayed to watch '90s themed fireworks, which sound utterly depressing unless it included Montell Jordan's monumental 1995 hit This Is How We Do It. Reports remain fuzzy as to whether this song was actually played during the fireworks show.
Tomorrow features the A's debut of Aaron Brooks. Here's to 2016!