First of all, I have to apologize for my preview. I appear to have cursed this team, and for that I am truly sorry.
I'm conflicted as to how to feel about Jered Weaver (5-6, 5.71) pitching today. On the one hand, he sucks now. He's really bad. He's allowing the most HRs in the MLB, he has the worst FIP in the MLB, and, you know, 82 MPH fastball on a good day. On the other hand, it's going to be that much more embarrassing when he pitches a complete game shutout.
So, basically, this game was my fault. Feel free to tar and feather me at your earliest convenience
This was a truly, mind-numbingly boring game. I usually really, really enjoy pitcher's duels–a 2-0 score is borderline ideal for my taste in baseball. But a Jered Weaver/Eric Surkamp pitching duel is possibly the least fun thing to watch that has ever happened. The slowest fastball in modern baseball history among non-knuckleballers vs. a guy who is maybe the most unremarkable pitcher playing baseball today. How can you not be romantic about baseball?
Surkamp has never been better with the A's, however, so I'll pause with the haterade.
He was solid, and that's a very good sign for the team going forward, because he is one of four-ish warm bodies capable of pitching five innings the team has left. And he was perfectly serviceable - 5 strikeouts, 2 walks, 2 runs over 6 innings. That's peak Surkamp. After yesterday's bullpen disaster, that's exactly what the team needed, and I wasn't convinced he had it in him. If you're going to take away a positive from this game, this is as good as it gets.
Surkamp is a Brad Mills-style 9th pitcher on a typical depth chart, but he's forced to be an inning-eating #4 and he's holding his own.
The two blemishes on what was otherwise a great performance was an RBI groundout in the first from Albert Pujols, and a Carlos Perez solo HR in the fifth. I will take that exactly 100% of the time from Surkamp.
Getting shutout by Jered Weaver is absolutely embarrassing, however. He's been the worst pitcher in the American League, only really challenged by... uh, Eric Surkamp. Choose a statistic, and I guarantee Jered Weaver is in the bottom five. Before today, he had the second worst ERA in the AL, worst FIP (by far), fourth fewest strikeouts, most HRs allowed (by far), etc, etc. Today, Weaver sat 79 with his fastball.
And yet, after all that futility, he pitched a Maddux - complete game shutout with under 100 pitches thrown.
I'm not sure what the deal is. The A's are a bit hopeless offensively, but they're not that bad, and even reliable presences like Danny Valencia looked lost, like they were somehow out ahead of 79 MPH heat. I don't know if Weaver has some crazy deception on his pitches, but other teams seem to have figured him out alright. The offense just looked incompetent, like they came to the plate without a plan or a strategy and wanted to get home as soon as possible.
Like, at one point, Billy Butler tried to stretch a single into a double. It went about as well as you'd expect. That was one of the three hits the A's had today, and it was washed away by pure, inexcusable baserunning incompetence. That's the level of fight the offense had today.
Maybe they wanted to make sure they didn't miss a second of the NBA Finals tonight. If that's what they were going for, at least that's understandable. Otherwise, I'm completely flummoxed. I don't expect much of anything out of this A's team, but they've somehow managed to be even worse than I thought.
Game #69: decidedly not nice.