A pitching dual with excellent balls/strikes calls from Crew Chief Dana Demuth gave way to the A's drawing first blood in the fourth inning at O.co. After Rays' RHP Odorizzi struck out Butler, Sogard, and Fuld in the third to retire the side—the A's blasted back with a Billy Burns leadoff triple. Burns took it into the right-center gap and ran so fast that he kicked up dust and shed his helmet somewhere between first and second. Go, Burns, Go!
Mark Canha's bat then stayed hot from last night as he RBI'd Burns in with a sharp single to right. Unfortunately Canha was only on the base path a short amount of time as a 3-6 Fielder's Choice from Reddick sent him back to the dugout. The inning ended with Valencia hitting into a 5-4-3 double play but we got one. That seems to be our plight these days. Strength of the order falls flat with infield grounders. [Hey at least they didn't strikeout like Butler in the 3rd...oh and in the 5th...]
Then again, we did give blood as well as draw blood today. Bases should have been loaded and Valencia up in the 6th after Reddick hit a hard shot that somewhat bounced/somewhat fumbled off of Loney for an E-3. Unfortunately, Burns got caught too far off of 2nd; this led to a throw to second and then home as Fuld tried to manufacture a run but got caught in a rundown between 3rd and home. Young. They're young. Repeat after me: They're young.
Doolittle nearly bled to death after he entered in the 7th. I want to say it was great to see Doo back but...that will have to wait for another game. He gave up the lead. He walked Jaso and Jaso's pinch-runner, Kevin Kiermaier, advanced to second on a Valencia diving save with a 5-3 out to send Forsythe back to the dugout. Unfortunately, this great play was followed by Asdrubal Cabrera picking up his first hit of the day on a high fastball. Desmond Jennings subbed in for Loney and took a sacrifice fly deep to center to tie up the game. Doolittle stayed in to face Guyer who was 1-2 on the day and took a stroll to first on the Doolittle base on balls. In comes Fernando Rodriguez. First pitch: RBI single to Ray's catcher Rivera. At least he closed out the inning quickly with a fly ball to center to retire Grady Sizemore for the final out of the 7th.
But not to despair, Athletics Nation! The bottom of the 7th demonstrated the A's at their best, the A's that live in our hearts daily and keep us coming back for more—even amidst pain and suffering the last two nights!
Geltz replaced Odorizzi who left after 6 and 1/3 innings after walking Valencia. Vogt doubles and in an adrenaline haze thinks he can make it home on Lawrie's no-out single. Nope. Out at the plate 8-2, but Danny Valencia scored. Tied up. Billy Butler doubles one off the right field wall. Runners on 2nd and 3rd. And in comes Sogard who smacks a 2 RBI single to put the A's ahead 4-2. Fuld walks. Billy Burns then infield hits and loads the bases. Only one out (Vogt, adrenaline haze out at home 8-2 remember?). Cahna CLEARS THE BASES with a shot to the center field wall! WOWZA!
Summarizing the 7th inning stage after the triple: Canha on second, one out, infield playing in, Reddick up and he strikes out swinging. Valencia, man #10 who started this inning with a walk, RBI single. 8-2. Vogt moves Valencia to third on a single up the middle to the right of second. SOMEBODY PINCH ME! Lawrie ends it with an unassisted shot to first. Well done, boys.
The Rays tried to do something in the 8th with a walk and a single but they also hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the 8th. In the 9th, Abad came in and retired Cabrera (6-3...Sogard did a great job today at short). Beckham then goes down swinging. Then, in true A's fashion for the 9th, Abad gives up a two-out double to Guyer. Feels a lot different than last night's 9th inning double though! And Rene Rivera who was 1-3 going into the 9th goes quietly with a can of corn to Burns in center.
Just a few asides from today's game:
- Is it just me or does John Jaso look stupid trying to grow dread locks. Seriously, can you imagine what that hair SMELLS like? Boy socks and jocks in the clubhouse may drown out the smell, but I'd hate to sit next to him in the dugout!
- Sports Illustrated headline from November 19th, 2014 ("Athletics' Deal for ex-Royal Billy Butler is True Head Scratcher") has added emphasis today. At 10 million for the year and anticipated 150-ish games this season, Butler yields $66,666 per game. OK... Each of his two strikeouts today cost us approximately $16,666+ a piece. Beaned again! But then again, to be fair, his 2 RBI double in the 7th also cost $16,666; at least we got something for that price!
- Sam Fuld had a better game than the box score tells us. Had the shift not been on in the sixth with shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to the right side of second, Fuld would have had a nice shot up the middle and been 1-3 with a walk instead of 0-3.
- Baseball Girl, I felt guilty today. I wish you could have threaded this game! You deserve it after the last two nights and many previous games.
So the A's salvage one of three this weekend. Rodriguez inherits the win, but didn't really earn it. Today's game yielded 11 hits and 8 runs with no errors. Tampa Bay picked up 7 hits on 2 runs with 2 errors (Cabrera and Loney). Geltz gets the loss and DEFINITELY earned it with his double-single-double-single-walk performance.
The A's now head to Seattle and put Doubront (0-0) on the mound as he fights for his first win against Iwakuma (5-2, 3.74ERA). Hopefully the green and gold offense will stay hot and produce for Doubront. See you back here at 7:10 tomorrow night. Go A's.