The A's are bad at baseball. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. I'm sure they're good at other things.
A's no hit through 6 2/3 innings
When you trot out the lineup the A's did today, getting no hit isn't much of a surprise. For the first 6 2/3rds innings of this game, rookie and 15 year old Zach Davies allowed just three baserunners, all via the walk.
Credit where credit is due. Davies pitched well. He hit his spots, took advantage of a generous strike zone, and mixed pitches and locations well. The A's did him many a favor, swinging at balls out of the zone left and right, and like any great pitching performance, it was a two person tango. Davies pitched well and the A's did nothing to help their own cause.
The no hitter ended in resounding fashion in the seventh. Following a Jed Lowrie walk, Billy Butler launched a ball deep into the retractable roof covered night, ending the no hit bid and the shutout. Nice to see Butler hit, though as we'll get to later, he played a big part in Sean Manaea's ugly line.
Manaea's good start marred by two pitches
Sean Manaea is very much a work in progress. Tonight, his line didn't do much justice to how much promise he showed.
Manaea garnered swings and misses all night long, His fastball was electric, his changeup dove in an unhittable path, and his control was good enough to earn him a W on a different night. He struck out six and gave up only six hits on the night, two of which were major mistakes.
His first mistake was a first pitch, get-me-over fastball to Chris Carter. Carter is 6'12" and 280 pounds of pure muscle. He doesn't even have bones, nor average contact skills, he's a freak. And he's not that good, but when you throw him a 0-0 fastball in the heart of the zone, well, two run dingers happen.
I don't want to shift the blame off of Manaea too much, but it's a pitch he doesn't make as he gets deeper in his career. It's a pitch Stephen Vogt probably shouldn't call, but there's some hindsight bias in there.
Manaea's second mistake come in the sixth. With runner's on first and second, that pesky A's killer Chris Carter came to the plate again. Manaea got ahead 0-2 with two fastballs, but inexplicably threw a third fastball in a row. It wasn't a bad pitch, but it wasn't a good one. Carter is a fastball masher and an offspeed misser, so it's a questionable decision at best. At any rate, he took another ball deep to center, turning Manaea's good start into a bad one and putting the Brewers up 5-0.
Update: Defense still bad
In the sixth, Billy Butler booted a ball. There's not much to it: he's a bad defender who wouldn't be on the field if one of the numerous injured A's was healthy and playing. It went down as a hit in the scorebook because scorekeepers apparently are biased fans like you and me. If the play gets made, Manaea is out of the sixth before Chris Carter's second dinger and maybe, just maybe, the A's sneak out of Milwakee with a win.
Again, I don't want to take too much blame from Manaea. Good pitchers can overcome bad breaks and Manaea could have done so easily with better pitch selection. But there's no doubt, the defense did Manaea no favors.
Per the rules of the A's manifesto, Losing painfully, the ninth wouldn't go without a tease. Billy Burns singled to pitcher, Jed Lowrie doubled down the left field line, and the A's were in business. Burns would score on a Vogt groundout, Lowrie on an error by Jonathan Villar, allowing Billy Butler to reach first. The Brewers lead had shrunk to a single run.
Yonder Alonso would single to center, moving pinch runner Tyler Ladendorf to third. Marcus Semien would follow with his worst at bat of the year, striking out on a breaking ball off the plate and stranding the runner at third. Chris Coghlan would end the game with a flyball to left, and the game ended with a 5-4 victory in favor of the Brewers.
Make baseball fun again
The worst part of the recent string of losses is the A's are taking away the thing that makes baseball special. The 2015 A's were a weird medical experiment, players had their left arm switched with their right, their toes with their fingers. In spite a disjointed band of erring fielders, the A's still won 68 games. That's four out of ten. The A's could visit the best team in the league and reasonably expect to snag at least one game. And that's what makes baseball unique, the worst team can beat the best on any given day.
Except here in 2016, we're treated to the inevitability that's the standard in other sports, not our precious baseball. It feels like a college preseason game, the other team is State, with their huge budget, beautiful cheerleaders, and team of destiny. The A's are Southeastern Dakota State College School of Carpentry Engineering, and the team takes a sad yellow bus and players take turns driving.
Of course State wins. Of course. It shouldn't be that way in baseball, but you know every time the A's are take the field, they're going to lose, probably by a fair amount. Here's to a some .500 ball the rest of the way to keep us all on our collective toes.