Not a single pitcher the A's used today was in the MLB yesterday. That speaks to both the future of the club – young pitching that is finally ready to come up and make an impact – and the horribly damaged state the club's starting rotation is in.
Today's loss was mostly on Cody Martin, and therefore I can't really be bothered to care about the loss. Cody Martin is a spot-starter in a lost season, and if he has a place in the MLB, it would be in the bullpen. Under those circumstances, I just can't be bothered to care. Sure, the offense was anemic, but coming off of an 11 run explosion last night, I'm pretty okay with this as well.
At this point of the season, it seems valuable to will yourself to see the positives in this team, and the hope for 2016. And there were more good parts to tonight's game than there were bad parts.
Cody Martin's night started out on a positive note - he began his first MLB start with two scoreless innings on a total of 20 pitches. After that, he collapsed. The third inning went like this: single, single, single, walk, bases-loaded HBP, RBI groundout, sac fly, ground out. The Angels never got the big hit that would have opened up the game entirely, but they knocked Martin out pretty easily. Or, rather, Martin knocked himself out - the walks, the HBP, and the hanging pitches were his downfall. He would be replaced with Arnold Leon the next inning after allowing two more runs.
But who cares about that? That was Cody Martin. His lousy performance means nothing for the team going forward. He's a warm body for a depleted rotation in a lost year.
Here's what you should care about: Brett Lawrie's recent power surge continued. Semien made several incredible plays at shortstop. Ryan Dull and RJ Alvarez, young hopes for a miserable bullpen, showed signs of emergence.
Lawrie started the game off with a massive home run to left field. He's been hitting for some huge power recently, another example of the tantalizing potential that remains mostly unrealized for Brett. The talent is there, and sometimes he can hit a ball 470 feet. And sometimes he strikes out five times in a game. So it goes.
Marcus Semien looked absolutely incredible in the field. This isn't me just being generous to a guy who has been struggling. He was tremendous. In the fourth inning, he ended a threat by making the play of the year, and turning one of the best double plays I have ever seen. Ever. Period. If you haven't watched it yet, go watch it.
He spent the rest of the game making smart play, being tremendously rangey, and generally not making errors. This was his best defensive game of the season, by far. This was the best defensive game of anyone on the A's this year. It was good.
The bullpen was great as well, considering that nobody who pitched tonight was on the MLB roster yesterday. Dan Otero gave up a solo dinger to Kole Calhoun, but that was just about it.
Ryan Dull made his MLB debut after a meteoric rise through the minor leagues (0.72 ERA in the minor leagues this year!). He did well, pitching a clean 8th with only one hit allowed and a strikeout. Dull, also notable for being two fourth-graders stacked on top of each other, will be a major part of the bullpen in the coming seasons. Today was an auspicious start.
R.J. Alvarez looked fantastic in his return to the MLB, striking out two in his perfect inning. 95-96 gas and a quality slider. I can dig it. Doolittle/Alvarez/Dull is a good foundation for a quality relief corps going into 2016. Add a couple free agents and you're looking at a bullpen that won't give you ulcers. Isn't that all you can ask?
There was a minor rally in the 9th, but given that it was driven entirely by bloopers from Stephen Vogt and Billy Butler, it's not worth talking about in-depth.
Tonight bid well for the A's 2016 chances. That's all that matters at this point, and that's all that's worth being concerned about. I'll take it.