In the most microcosmical game of 2015, the A's hung with a tough team, against a tough pitcher, only to get absolutely blown out in a 10 inning loss to the Baltimore Orioles. It really shouldn't surprise you the A's made it to extras and still lost by 4, because this is the A's in the year 2015.
The Orioles got on the board first, thanks to a Jonathan Schoop double followed by a Nolan Reimold single in the third. Kendall Graveman recovered nicely to limit the damage, heading to the bottom of the frame with a 1-0 deficit.
The A's tied it up in the bottom half of the inning. Ike Davis led off with a double, Semien and Burns followed with some rare but much needed walks to load the bases with none out. Sam Fuld, batting second (??) hit into a fielder's choice, cutting down Davis at the dish, and scoring no one. Brett Lawrie followed that with a sac fly to left, and the score was tied. It was very A's to score but a single run after loading the bases with no one on, but the patience the team showed through the inning was a welcome sight.
In the fourth, the A's took the lead on a Marcus Semien double down the left field line. Following a rare Phegley walk and a Mark Canha double (off a lefty!). Semien gave the A's the lead with his 2 RBI double.
The A's gave it back in the 6th, as Kendall Graveman's stellar start came to a screeching halt (more on that later). With one out, Gerardo Parra singled on a bunt to new third baseman Danny Valencia. Valencia made a nifty play to recover from his deep positioning, but was unable to nab the speedy lefty at first. Adam Jones followed with a blast to center, a ball that gets out in most parks, and might have even make its way out of O.co if it weren't for Billy Burns. Yet again, Billy made a wonderful leaping catch to save the A's at least a run. While I don't think that ball gets out, the importance of the play would bear itself out a few batters later. But for now, enjoy the spectacle that is Billy Burns.
Oakland Athletics (@Athletics) August 5, 2015
Unfortunately, Graveman lost all he had by this point. Chris Davis singled through the shift, moving runners to first and third with one out. Jimmy Parades followed with a single of his own to center, scoring Parra and moving the score to 3-2. JJ Hardy followed with a shot to left for the final hit of the inning and when it was all said and done, the score was tied at three. Should Burns not make his leaping catch, the A's lose in 9 innings, which I think is a bad thing.
The score would stay that way, somewhat miraculously considering the A's bullpen exists, until the tenth inning. Extra innings are an interesting animal for managers, as you don't know how many innings you'll need out of your pen. Thus is the need for an Arnold Leon, a potential starter who can eat unexpected innings if you need them. Fortunately, Leon ensured there would be no unexpected innings, as he promptly coughed up the lead in spectacular fashion.
After two singles sandwiched a weird, misplaced intentional walk, Chris Davis stepped to the plate with one out. With a 3-2 count, Leon had no place to put the slugger, mainly thanks to previously referenced misplaced intentional walk. I'm not sure why NewBob decided to go with the IBB, especially after it failed so disastrously a day before for the Orioles, but he did. Davis launched a grand slam to deep left center, deflating hope from A's fans everywhere, including radio lead Vince Controneo. Extra innings are typically fun because you usually have a chance, and the game is rarely put out of reach. Neither of those were true today, so this loss sucks double.
I didn't dive into the A's missed opportunities, because you already know. Slightly better execution, and this is an easy win for the A's. At the end of the day, the A's left 8 on base while going 1-13 with RISP.
-Kendall Graveman's line today isn't great, but he pitched as well as he's pitched this year for the first 5 innings. With 11 groundballs and 3k's, Graveman induced weak contact while cruising through those first 5. The 6th was a clustermuck, as Graveman's command and movement abandoned him, leaving him but an Arnold Leon esque batting practice machine for the Orioles. Going forward, I'd love to see the A's give him a chance to gain strength, as his inability to pitch deep into games has been one of his major downfalls.
After some deep investigative research, I've concluded that Graveman sucks more when he sucks, and is less sucky when he doesn't suck. In his 12 non-sucky starts, Graveman has pitched 72.6666666 innings with an ERA of 1.86. In his sucky starts, his ERA is 8.90.
Now, before I dive deeper into this analysis, I want to thank you all for reading my work. Clearly, this is a big break here. Finding out that non-sucky starts are better than sucky starts is something that will likely get me a job at FanGraphs, if not as a GM. So thank you.
Anyway, what's my point? Graveman has been a walking dichotomy, and even though today's start ended with a dud, it's nice to watch him notimplode. He's one of the A's most important stories going into 2016, and if he can find consistency in his good starts, he will a key cog in the A's playoff run. Today was, in spite of the 6th, a decent start.
-Marcus Semien was dynamite today. Marcus went 2-3 at the plate with a walk, and made arguably the best defensive play he's made all year, going deep into the hole and firing a strike to Ike Davis. The last two months are crucial to his success as well. Hopefully the A's can feel comfortable not shortstop hunting this offseason.
-The pen outside of Leon was fantastic. Mujica pitched a cleanish ninth thanks to a sweet tailor made double play. Pomeranz was nails, striking out a few key Orioles hitters while showing confidence in his fastball. Fernando Rodriguez got the A's out of the 6th inning jam, and in a way, allowed us all to enjoy Chris Davis's 10th inning blast.
Welp, we're bad. At least we're closer to a high draft pick? I'll see you tomorrow night, as the A's take on a division foe in the Houston Astros. Join me again to watch Carlos Correa and co as they travel to O.co!