Final Score: Indians 6, Athletics 4
The Bad & the Ugly:
The weather in Mesa was murky today. A lot like Jesse Hahn’s status as a member of the A’s opening day roster. Hahn’s inconsistent pitching and the inconsistency of A’s starting pitching in general have been developing stories this spring. Hahn lasted fewer than 2 innings in last week’s started against the Mariners, and many felt that this was a make or break start for him. Spoiler alert: Hahn didn’t make.
Rajai Davis greeted him with a double on the first pitch of the game. Davis would later steal 3rd base on ball 4 to Carlos Santana, and then come home one batter later on a Yan Gomes rbi single. Hahn escaped further damage by inducing a groundball double play from Marlon Byrd, but that 1st inning set the tone for high traffic on the basepaths for Cleveland.
Hahn would allow an rbi triple on a hanging curveball to the light-hitting Michael Martinez in the 2nd, and then 2 more runs in the 3rd on RBI singles from Gomes and Cowgill, which sandwiched a somewhat scary moment in the game. With Gomes on first, Hahn clocked Marlon Byrd with a fastball on Byrd's fists that ricocheted off of Stephen Vogt's hand. Vogt had to take a moment, and we held our breath, but he stayed in the game for another 4 innings with no apparent injury. So, in spite of Jesse Hahn's efforts to effectively kill two Byrds with one stone, everyone walked away healthy.
Hahn would allow another baserunner in the fourth, but would get out of trouble with the help of an "excuse me" double play. A line drive that clanked off of Marcus Semien’s glove he quickly recovered from. Semien scooped up the dropped ball and threw to Lowrie covering second, who then relayed to first to complete the play.
Jesse's day would eventually come to a close in the 5th. After getting two quick outs, he allowed a single to Byrd and a wall-scraping opposite field homer from the red-hot Tyler Naquin, who had not looked good in his two previous at bats against Hahn. After a walk to Cowgill, it was time for BoMel to make the long walk out.
Hahn's final line: 4 and 2/3 IP / 6 ER / 10 H / 2 BB / 2 K
At times, it felt like Jesse was fooling some hitters, snapping off curveballs and baiting a few swings and misses. At other times, it felt like his putaway pitch just wasn't there, and Indians hitters were waiting for the one they wanted and capitalizing when they got it. The Tribe managed 10 hits today, all off of Hahn, some hard contact, some soft, but overall, tons of traffic.
Hahn says he feels again as if his stuff was good but he isn't getting results. Sinker not sinking so well in AZ air, which isn't uncommon.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) March 28, 2016
This latest bad start only further throws into doubt Hahn's spot on the roster, and will place further pressure on his final start this spring.
Hahn says he needs to get going sooner than later; he is glad he gets one more start before season (Sat at Coliseum)— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) March 28, 2016
Nobody got hurt.
The A’s defense looked pretty solid. They committed exactly zero errors. The ball boy even chipped in with an epic diving stop.
Khris Davis was one homer shy of hitting for the cycle. It feels like we're saying this for the fourth time this spring, but his shot off the batters eye would have been a homer in any other ball park. After a 3 for 3 day, Khris Khrush is now batting a robust .304 on the spring and his power looks to be rounding into its sweet, sweet form.
Yonder Alonso got his first extra base hit of the spring, a no doubt crank to right off Danny "strikeout" Salazar.
The A’s bullpen was nails. Again. Ryan Madson, Sean Doolittle, and tall lefty Patrick Schuster combined to set down 12 Indians in a row in 4 combined innings of work, the last 2 innings from Schuster. It appears, at least so far, that all the work that Forst & Beane and co. have done to improve the most glaring weakness of the 2015 A's squad is paying off.
Late in the game, the A's offense mounted a steady comeback, putting up single runs in the 6th, 7th and 8th, but eventually, they ran out of innings. In spite of Jesse Hahn's struggles, this game actually felt like it was within the A's reach. Given how few times we felt that way in 2015, I'd say there are a lot of encouraging signs to take away from this one.
To wrap it up, I would like to say "thank you" to Alex, Nico, Jeremy, Tim, Bernie & co. for letting me host the game thread and recap, and to all the AN diehard threaders who kept me company and waxed baseball and Simpsons over a meaningless spring training game. This is a tremendous community, and it was really fun to come out of my proverbial posting shell. Thank you, guys!