Riding a five game losing streak, the A's looked to their stopper, Felix Doubront. Wait, no. Felix Doubront just happened to be the pitcher today. And hey, he was pretty effective! Per usual, it wasn't pretty, with a combo of hard hit balls and scattered hits Doubront weaved in and out of trouble. But his final line was solid, going 6+ innings with a single walk, scattering 8 hits and striking out one.
The Astros got the scoring started quickly, after a Springer double and an Altuve sacrifice, Carlos Correa scored Springer via a groundout to second.
Displeased with losing, Mark Canha put the A's on the board with a long dinger in the bottom of the first displaying his immense power yet again.
This gives you an idea how insane Canha's bat speed is. These screen grabs are taken 1 frame apart. Bat disappears. pic.twitter.com/rzPXaqmT2k— Casey Pratt (@CaseyPrattCSN) September 7, 2015
Canha would end up 2-3 with a walk on the day, keeping up his recent run of hot hitting. The only thing missing from Canha's repertoire has been the walks, and as he does more and more damage with the longball those should increase as well. August was Canha's first month as a full time player, and he responded, OPSing .865. He's kept it up so far this month, and looks like a real option for 2016.
The ‘stros got another in the second, thanks to some wonky defense by the A's. With runners on second and third, Jake Marisnik hit a soft flyball to shallow right. While Brett Lawrie has looked solid overall as Eric Sogard's incumbent, he's struggled on popups over his head. On this occasion, he ran in front of Josh Reddick at the worst possible moment almost causing calamity. Fortunately, Reddick managed to make the catch, but froze with the ball, allowing Marwin Gonzalez to barely beat out Reddick's laser to the plate.
The A's tied it in the fourth after Lawrie scored Valencia with an RBI ‘triple' to center. Really, it was a single and an error, but thanks to scoring rules from the Paleolithic era, the play was ruled a triple as Carlos Gomez did not touch the ball and was also impeded by leftfielder Jake Marisnik.
Ruling is that Gomez missed ball because Marisnick ran in front of him, interfering with view of ball.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) September 7, 2015
Not an error cause another fielder got in his way. Got it, baseball.
So we're clear, the score is 2-2 at this point. To the bottom of the sixth!
Six in the sixth
The A's had a killer sixth, mixing a little luck with some power to take the lead. Valencia and Lawrie walked to open the frame and moved to third on Butler's almost-GITP single to left. Coco Crisp pinch-hit for Jake Smolinski, crushing an RBI double off the right field wall. Out of all the good things that happened today (pretend the bullpen doesn't exist), Crisp showing he can still mash the ball might be the most exciting. He looked like Coco of old, not Tin Man Coco of new. He is still just a little over a year removed from a 143 wRC+ first half and he can clearly hit if healthy. Here's to hoping.
Coco's double plated the first two runs. A Billy Burns single plated the next two, making the score 6-2. Canha followed with his second hit, an RBI single to right, making the score 7-2. With the bases loaded, a Valencia groundball to short plated another run, as a hard Reddick slide broke up the double play and plated the final run of the inning. After all the dust settled, most of it from AJ Hinch's 3 mid inning pitching changes, the score stood 8-2 with the A's firmly in control.
The A's bullpen sucks. If you didn't know that, I'm jealous. Doubront started the seventh giving up a homerun to Villar, deep into the second deck down the left field line. After a single, Doubront was pulled for Fernando Rodriguez who has walked the line between gascan and legitimate option all year long. Today, he was more gascan, walking George Springer before giving up an absolute bomb to Carlos Correa.
The two homeruns were absolute blasts, with Villar's exit velocity being infinity and Correa's exit velocity being equal to my high school prom date's. The ball was jumping out of the yard today, but the onus falls on the pen.
After the seventh, the score stood at 8-6.
Knowing 8 runs isn't enough for the pen, Josh Phegley blasted a two run shot in the seventh. It was his ninth of the yearand came off a righty. Phegley is forced into action with Vogt nursing his nuts, and seeing him succeed off righties is an added bonus.
More Bullpen :(
Up 10-6, the A's called on Drew Pomeranz to pitch the 8th. The inning started off with Brett Lawrie missing an easy flyball in right. To be fair, Lawrie was moving in a way he never would at third, but still, the ball needs to be caught everytime. That runner would score on an RBI groundout. Pomeranz then allowed a long, two run homerun to Marisnik, making the score 10-9. In Pom's defense, none of the runs were earned and he likely would have escaped unscathed if Lawrie makes that initial play. Still, errors happen, and our pen needs to be able to respond. Pom did not.
Finally, more bullpen!
It is only fitting that after a 12 hour long game (citation needed), the 9th would take five pitches. New old closer Sean Doolittle took the hill, inducing two popups to shallow center (caught by Lawrie, because of course) and striking out Carlos Gomez in an efficient manner. His velocity looked great, his fastball was deceptive, and Doolittle looks like he's back. That's a huge win for the A's.
-Since Brett Lawrie has moved to second relatively full time, the number of flyballs to shallow left has increased ten fold (citation needed).
-Every single flyball is "driven" according to Glenn Kuiper. You'd think after all his years of watching baseball he'd be able to gauge when something has a chance at getting out, but no. He sounds like an entry level resume, every damn thing is so "driven".
-Felix Doubront is a struggle, but the fact that he's eating innings is huge. Today marks just the second time in 7 days that the A's have gotten 6 innings from a starter. Imagine what happens if we go to the pen an inning earlier.
-Reddick's arm looked fantastic today for the first time in recent memory. He was one brain fart away from an awesome assist.
Happy Labor Day! We'll see you again tomorrow for some more bullpen blunders.