Spring Training Game #22: The Neverending Stor-A's

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

This was a bad game!

From an excerpt of The Psalm of Life, by one poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,

"Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sands of time"

It was very obvious that the sands of time, symbolizing the very finite and infinitely precious existence we have on this Earth, were slowly slipping through AthleticsNation’s collective fingertips as the A’s and Mariners played a Spring Training Game that made all collective watchers that much more aware of how much closer they were to death than they were before the fateful first pitch was tossed. The great men playing before us, among them the admirable Jesse Hahn and the adversarial Nate Karns, did anything but make our lives sublime as the ineffective starters allowed 16 runs in 4.0 combined innings of work.

For a while, it appeared as if this game would never come to an end. The winds were howling, as the sands of time across the harsh Arizona desert rapidly sapped away our life essence. Lazy fly balls turned into home runs. Home runs turned into ground-rule doubles. By the time the dramatic affair between the A’s and Mariners reached the end of the third inning, an hour and a half had passed, many a drinks had been consumed, and many were asking themselves, "Will I make it to the end of this game, alive??"

By the fifth, people were only hearing half a broadcast, amused responses to statements no one else could hear, as the sands of time stripped away reality.

Jesse Hahn threw too many pitches. The probable #2 starter behind Sonny Gray only managed to last 1.2 innings in this contest, throwing an impressive 68 (!) pitches in the process. He also allowed seven runs, which is a bad amount regardless of how many innings someone pitches. However, Hahn was hurling the ball hard handily, consistently sitting in the middle 90’s with his fastball, and his curveball had a very sharp break to it. In other words, his actual "stuff" looked decent despite the horrendous results, and in the name of optimism many of the negative results could likely be chalked up to suboptimal right-fielding by Jake Smolinski and a bevy of wind-aided hits. He also threw a baseball into the stands on a pickoff attempt. He had a bad game.

The A’s defense had a lot of eyes on it before the game’s start due to the debuts of Mark Canha in center field and Chris Coghlan at third base. Canha performed decently enough in his potentially new position, as he chased down a couple of carrying fly balls and was quickly able to get balls hit to him back to the infield, but he also looked flat-footed on a potential sacrifice fly situation and, more intangibly so, was not the most comfortable looking. With time, it seems conceivable that Canha would be able to become adequate enough at the premium position. Surrounding Canha, Smolinski seemed lost in right field, as he sometimes appeared out of position or would make extremely poor judgements about when to dive for low line drives that would be automatic triples if they got passed him. In Left Field, Khris Davis made a throw that murdered a multitude of moles en route to the middle infield, and Semien looked rather awkward at shortstop for the first time in a long time. I don’t believe anyone ever hit a ball at Coghlan, so that experiment is in To Be Continued status. The A’s defense had a bad game.

The A’s offense performed rather exceptionally today, though, as a group of major league ballplayers, it would be rather alarming if the offense put up fewer than 13 runs when the opposing pitching staff was routinely tossing fastballs and changeups right down the heart of the plate when they weren’t missing the strike zone by obscene amounts. The A’s scored nine runs, seven earned, off of Nate Karns, from scoring 2 in the first, 3 in the second, and 4 in the third, and all starters contributed to the offensive effort, even the starters that people hate around here (you know who I’m talking about).

There was a baseball game after the sixth inning, and the Mariners managed to tack on an extra run before the games’ end to make the contest close. The sands of time, however, ever draining from our lives, appeared to take a stronger toll on the players, and it was almost as if everyone on the field morphed into baseball-playing zombies merely going through the motions of finishing out the baseball game and not doing anything remarkable. The game, in any noteworthy sense, ended by the sixth, and what was left was merely obligation. A’s defeated the Mariners 13-12, and there was much rejoicing.

Granted, he surrendered an actual grand slam to Luis Sardinas, of all people, but after much contemplation the player of the game honors should go to Eric Surkamp, who managed to log a vital 4.0 innings pitched on a night when it was clear that Jesse Hahn was supposed to pitch for a lot longer than he did. As remains true with all of spring training, keeping everyone healthy is the biggest key, and Surkamp’s performance out of the bullpen likely saved someone else’s arm from getting overtaxed.

I leave thee once again with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow from The Psalm of Life,

"Not enjoyment, and not sorrow

Is our destined end or way;

But to act, that each to-morrow

Finds us farther than today."

A’s should play better tomorrow, versus Texas. Time just kept on slipping today, but look for the A’s to make up what they lost, so that we, and the team, may find ourselves just slightly further than we are at the end of this frightful, sandy night.