Today's game was poorly played by the A's - poorly pitched, lifeless on offense, and subpar defensively. The A's won. They won a one-run game that they didn't play absolutely perfectly.
The 2015 A's never win these types of games. That's reason enough to celebrate and ignore the things that went wrong. The A's actually won an imperfect, close game. That might be more on the Astros than the Athletics, and it's certainly a little bit late in the season for a turnaround in luck, but I'm not complaining.
Let's start with the pitching: Jesse Chavez had a great game!
I mean, if you only looked at innings pitched and runs allowed. Okay, let's be fair here: he really did not deserve to go 7 innings with only one run allowed. Today's game was nice from results standpoint, but it did really nothing to alleviate my fears about him going forward.
His control has degenerated; his pitches lack the bite that made him so exciting in the first halves of 2014 and 2015. Today's game showed no improvement on that. He walked four guys over seven innings and only struck out four. There was no limiting of hard contact - Jesse was obviously favored by the baseball gods today, because every hard line drive or towering fly ball found a glove instead of the stands. That's not talent, that's luck. If he pitches like this his next time out, he'd be lucky to escape the fourth inning without dooming the A's to a blowout.
He just simply was not good today, and his inability to last more than two months as an effective starting pitcher is absolutely astounding. I'm about ready to give up on the Jesse Chavez starter experiment, personally. He's really incredible out of the bullpen, but this starting thing might just not be for him.
But the A's won! That's the lede here. It was an imperfectly, clumsily played game, and the A's won. That doesn't happen in 2015. That's incredible.
The offense was mostly quiet, only really waking up in the first inning. The Danny Valencia era continued its stellar start, as he doubled in two runs to start off the game. I'd like to see Valencia start at third base and Lawrie start at second from here on out - Valencia is obviously talented and one of the better hitters on the team. I want to see him in the lineup everyday, and I'd like to see Lawrie ready to accommodate that in 2016.
After those runs, the A's were quiet. Collin McHugh was pretty electric, striking out eight in his six innings. The A's made him work, though - he threw 121 pitches (!!!), a welcome return to the classic A's philosophy of forcing the starting pitcher out ASAP.
After a clean inning from Drew Pomeranz, Edward Mujica was brought in to get the save. On a side note: why is Edward Mujica the closer? Because he has experience? He may be the single worst reliever in a pen full of subpar relievers. I hope that the A's have him there because the strategy is to actively throw games, otherwise that role makes zero sense.
He wasn't much better than Jesse, but he got just as lucky. Two deep fly balls, a balk, and a hard hit grounder, and the game was over.
It's nice to see the luck turn for the A's, even though it is way too late to matter. Maybe the awful luck this team dealt with in the first half was a glitch, not a feature, and maybe the 2016 incarnation of this team won't have to deal with the same thing.