To summarize this game in a sentence or two: Mac Williamson and Angel Pagan had very bad nights while Sean Manaea had a very good night. The Giants put on a defensive horror show and the A's made them pay dearly. It was like an episode of The Three Stooges out there and I'm keeping this game on my DVR forever just to preserve the third and fourth innings like big, bumbling, flyball misjudging mosquitoes in amber.
Glenn Kuiper put it best: "The Giants are a first place team; they're playing like a last place team."
The A's Look Down From Schadenfreude Mountain
The A’s started out by doing their part to make 2016 Jake Peavy look like 2007 Jake Peavy, making 6 outs on only 15 pitches, all on weak contact to the left side of the field.
The third inning, however, was sweet, unadulterated schadenfreude. The A's basked in the Giants' suffering like lizards on a nice flat rock on a sunny day. The Giants played little league, slapstick baseball. Semien hit what should have been yet another easy pop-up to shallow right field, but neither Williamson nor Pena called for the ball and the two fielders collided. Semien was running hard the whole way and ended up at third while Pena ended up on the ground in pain for a while before play resumed (with Pena not injured, thankfully). Billy Burns executed a perfect safety squeeze bunt to plate Semien and put the A’s up 1-0. Coco Crisp then hit a ball sharply to left field that Pagan grossly misplayed, allowing it to go all the way to the wall with Coco hustling to third base. Due to the arcane nature of errors (Pagan never touched the ball, so it can’t be an error), it was ruled a triple, but really should have been a single and an error. Lowrie hit - no, let’s go with booped - a home run out to right field. It probably would have bounced off the top of the wall, but cleared it after bouncing in and out of Mac Williamson’s glove - 3-0 Oakland. Reddick followed up with what should have been a foul pop fly for the third out, but Ruben Tejada botched an ill-advised basket catch and Reddick ultimately walked. The A’s wouldn’t score any more in the inning, but being witness to a defensive meltdown that benefited the A’s was a rare treat. Peavy threw more than twice as many pitches as he should have that inning and was poised to be knocked out early so the A’s could feast on a weak Giants bullpen.
BUT THE SCHADENFREUDE DOESN’T END THERE! Butler walked and then, improbably, Yonder Alonso hit a no-doubter to right field to put the A's up 5-0. Semien "tripled" after Pagan watched a catchable ball bounce off the base of the wall and past him and Denard Span. Then Burns "doubled" thanks again to Pagan; he probably would have had a double anyway but didn’t even have to slide after a bobble by the left fielder. A's up 6-0. Coco scooped a single to right field to make it 7-0. George Kontos replaced Peavy after only 3 1/3 innings and got Lowrie and Reddick out, with Angel Hernandez having mercy on the Giants and calling strike three on a blatant ball to Reddick.
By the time Peavy came out after 3 1/3 innings, the security on the field had to worry more about Peavy murdering his entire team than anything a fan might do. I was cackling like a madman. I have never seen a pitcher so angry with his own team in my life. Even in the darkest depths of 2015, we saw nothing like this with the A's.
To be clear, I actually feel bad for Peavy. He didn't pitch well, but he wasn't as bad as might be indicated by the box score. As I mentioned in the game thread, I grew up in San Diego and generally have positive feelings for Jake Peavy and the Brett Lawrie-like emotion he brings to the game. I feel schadenfreude because this happened to the Giants, but Peavy (or any other pitcher in this situation) deserves better.
The A’s bats stayed quiet for the rest of the game. We got the first Billy Butler GIDP we’ve had in a while in the 8th. Our chance to dismantle the overextended Giants bullpen was squandered, but the hilarity of the first few innings made it totally okay. The A's got hits when it counted and maximized their effectiveness, both in terms of run scoring and Giants shaming.
Sean Manaea the Mountain King
Manaea showed great promise in the first inning. His fastball hit 96 (or closer to 94.5-94.9, according to pitchFX), the first time we’ve seen the advertised velocity in the major leagues, and his slider and changeup were both used effectively. With two outs on and 0-2 count he hung a slider that Brandon Belt hit into the right field corner for a double, but there were no other mistakes.
Manaea got into some trouble in the second inning. With one out, he gave up a single and a walk. He induced a weak ground ball from Ramiro Pena that brought the A’s their first automatic double play call of the season after Mac Williamson overslid the bag at second base. The ball probably wasn’t hit hard enough for the double play to be turned without the overslide, but we’ll take it. Our first brush with the fabled new slide rules, and it hurts the Giants! Hurrah!
Sean Manaea worked in and out of trouble again in the 4th inning. With one out, he loaded the bases on 3 hits (2 of the SF devil magic variety). Mac Williamson was a couple feet foul from hitting a home run, but Manaea got the groundball when he needed it most for a beautiful inning-ending 6-4-3 double play - Williamson’s second double play of the night including the automatic from the second inning.
We witnessed dominant 3rd and 5th innings to balance out the trouble in the even numbered innings. Manaea induced weak contact and notched some beautiful strikeouts (he finished with 4 on the day, to go with 6 hits and 1 walk).
After a Buster Posey double with 2 outs in the 6th, Manaea was replaced by Liam Hendriks. He was at 83 pitches and they had said before the game that he would top out around 85, so it wasn’t surprising, but it’s still a shame that he didn’t get to finish the 6th because he was pitching well. Liam Hendriks came in to finish the 6th and prevent Posey from scoring despite home plate umpire Angel Hernandez’s best efforts.
Hendriks yielded a walk and a single in the 7th because he’s seemingly incapable of having a low-pressure inning, but he was able to limit hard contact and keep the Giants off the board.
Not wanting the Giants to be too disappointed in their performances, Bob Melvin put John Axford in to pitch the 8th inning. Axford is a good pitcher, but when he’s on a cold streak, it is UGLY. A 4-pitch walk, a Posey single (admittedly on a good curveball out of the zone) and a wild pitch put runners at 2nd and 3rd and Brandon Crawford was able to hit a sacrifice fly to spoil the shutout. Axford gave up just the one run, so I suppose it could have been worse. And the choice to use Axford to save our other pitchers when we had a big lead was a good decision by Melvin.
Ryan Dull pitched an efficient 9th inning to finalize the game, 7-1.
Can this series never end?