The A's have played two games so far this calendar week, and the one where Sonny Gray gave up seven runs in 3.2 innings was less painful. That's about all you need to know about this one, a 13-5 loss to the Red Sox, but if you want to learn, cry, and maybe even laugh, join us for a quick recap.
A tough start for Manaea
When it rains, it pours, and when the A's are bad, boy do they suck. Leadoff hitter Mookie Betts took a 2-2 offering over the monster for a dinger to open the game for the Sox. Sean Manaea would strikeout Dustin Pedroia in an impressive effort for the first out, but gave up an infield single to Xander Bogaerts to follow. Hanley Ramirez followed with another dinger to deeeppppp center making it 3-0 in a hurry. I miss bad Hanley.
The A's strike back! Nope.
The best defense is a good defense, and when your defense gives up three runs in the first, it's not a good defense. So next best thing, let's score some runs. In the second, the A's had a chance. With one out, Billy Butler fisted a single to center. Marcus Semien singled to short with two outs, moving Butler to second. Chris Coghlan was up next, and he blasted a single to center. Third base coach Mike Gallego, wearing an impressive Ron Washington costume, sent Billy Butler home as Jackie Bradley Jr. fielded the ball.
Billy Butler needs no introduction but to be clear, he's not fast. Jackie Bradley Jr. once threw a ball from home plate over the centerfield wall which is a longish way of saying he's got a cannon.
Butler's legs vs. Bradley's arm is a rendition of a classic paradox, the battle between an immovable object vs. an unstoppable force. The immovable Butler was thrown out by about 30 feet and even though the throw was significantly offline, Butler was tagged out easily. In the photo below, you'll see Red Sox catcher Brian Hannigan with the ball. Butler is mysteriously absent from the frame.
The A's ended up losing by infinity runs, so it doesn't really matter. But it's Billy Butler, and it was ridiculous, so we're going to talk about it. How did Wash think it was a good idea to send him? Do the A's not have scouting reports? Or was he, like the rest of us, so deeply in need of a good laugh he waved Butler home like he had a prayer? We may never know.
A lot happened in the bottom of the third, so we'll spare you the gory details of each at bat. Manaea faced seven batters in the inning. All seven hit the ball hard, six for hits and one for an out. The charitable Red Sox also ran into an out at third in the frame, trying to stretch a double into a triple. Five Red Sox crossed the plate before Daniel Coulombe took over to end it, leaving Manaea's final line 2.2 innings pitched, 10 hits, 8 runs, all earned, 2 dingers, and a single strikeout. Not. Good.
Red Sox hitters weren't fooled by Manaea one bit. Early in the count, they jumped on fastballs like they knew they were coming and didn't miss. Quite simply, Manaea was overmatched.
It's pretty obvious Manaea isn't ready. He had some fixable mistakes today, but for the most part he was just battered around by solid a Red Sox lineup. I'm reminded of Gio Gonzalez's first few starts with the A's - he looked utterly useless on the mound, but eventually turned into a stud. Manaea may need a trip or two to Nashville before he realizes his potential but his awful start doesn't preclude a bright future by any means.
On a positive note: watching Manaea pitch isn't enjoyable right now, but watching him soak up life as a big leaguer is fun. He's bright eyed, bushy haired, and taking in everything the majors has to offer. I've met golden retrievers less agreeable than Manaea, and his obvious charm makes him even easier to root for.
Needing insurance runs, the Sox put up three more in the sixth. Travis Shaw, known best for putting Pablo Sandoval out of a job, launched a three run, opposite field bomb over the monster. It was an impressive display overshadowed by the fact that half the damn Sox lineup had done so already.
The Sox would add two in the 7th on some shenanigans you shouldn't care too much about. The boxscore won't show an impressive outing from any of the A's relievers, but they were all thrown to the wolves, asked to pitch longer than they typically do. They did just fine at that, even if they gave up some runs. It'll be interesting to see how the A's handle tomorrow's game with both Andrew Triggs and Daniel Coulombe presumably unable to pitch.
The positives from today
-Billy Butler, egregious Wash induced TOOTLBAN aside, was pretty dang impressive today. He strode to the plate four times, three of those times he gave the middlefinger to father time, Uncle GIDP, and Cousin Platoon and hit some pretty impressive base knocks. Sadly, they were all singles (one is scored a double, but let's be real, that was an error) and Butler still hasn't shown much power this season. With Canha on the DL, Butler seems even more firmly entrenched in this lineup so it's nice to see him produce. With Lowrie banged up, it's good to see Butler play a competent first base like he did tonight.
-Chris Coghlan had a couple of hits. I swear to you he's a good ballplayer, and hopefully he gets hot in a hurry. If he plays like he did just a year ago, he could net a decent return at the deadline from a team in need of a versatile lefty.
-What can you say about Josh Reddick? The dude just won't stop getting on base, even if his teammates leave him out there in the cold dark night. Tonight, he went 2-3 with a walk and his average now sits at a robust .325.
You have 21 hours till the A's can lose again
Things are bad. The A's pitching, which really could be a strength is a vacuum of suck, taking hitters of all kinds and turning them into stars. Tomorrow should be no different with Eric Surkamp on the mound, although we may be treated to another Josh Phegley relief appearance. Positives, people. Positive thinking.
The A's are now 14-20 and firmly on their way to an awful season. If things are to change, it better happen fast.