Our boys in away grays came out swinging in Chicago. Jake Smolinski, following Coco Crisp's fly ball to center, took a line drive into center field and was quickly moved to third base on a Marcus Semien double down the left field line. Unfortunately Khris Davis struck out swinging with runners on 2nd and 3rd and one out. In a déjà vu moment, Ryon Healy took it deep to center field (367 feet) only to have yet another over-the-back deep drive snagged, this time by J.B. Shuck, to end the inning. So Jose Quintana, after punching himself in the head upon Eaton's grab, gets out of trouble.
Aggressive bats and base running by Chicago made for an exciting, albeit painful, first inning. After two base hits (Eaton and Anderson), Melky Cabrera reaches on a fielder's choice as heads-up Yonder Alonso guns Eaton at the plate, an excellent tag by Maxwell to nab the head-first sliding Eaton. With runners on first and second, Jose Abreu grounded into what should have been a double play, but Chad Pinder threw the ball in the dirt and Alonso couldn't dig it out. Two outs, runners on first and third.
Unfortunately it was a Canadian moment next as Justin Morneau hit his 9th double and 15th RBI of the season on a pitch that Zach Neal left up and away. Todd Frazier then sealed the deal for a crooked number with a 2RBI single; the only redeeming part of this event was Frazier getting caught trying to sneak to second on the play to become out #3 on a Semien-to-Pinder tag. Summative point: Double-play mistake by young Chad Pinder cost the A's. Welcome to the show, Rook—where the boys of summer drink their coffee black and capitalize on E-V-E-R-Y single mistake—in this case, three runs on the rookie's error.
The A's finally made it on the board in the 4th inning. Marcus Semien notched his 17th double to begin the inning. Even more exciting, Khris Davis followed with home run #32 of the season as he sent the ball 427 feet into center. "Ah Shucks" is what happened next! A hard-shot by Eibner is caught in such spectacular diving fashion by J.B. Shuck who summarily received a tip-of-the-cap from Eibner. Alonso then strikes out to end the inning. The A's are on the board, however, with a score of 2-3.
Home run #16 for Jose Abreu came on a crushed ball hurling 400 feet into the left center field stands. ChiSox go up 4-2. The day of outfield grabs, snags, and dives continues, this time demonstrated by Coco Crisp who completes a near 360 snag at the wall to send Morneau back to the dugout. Todd Frazier then singled and followed with stolen base #10. In a bizarre balk call by Jerry Davis (personally I think sweat dripped in his eye and that's the issue), Frazier then advanced to third. Amusing commentary by both Ray Fosse and Glen Kuiper as they sarcastically labeled Neal's pitch "clearly deception"; like a day-without-Dibs for Ray, it was a confusing and frustrating moment. Luckily Carlos Sanchez, after a long at-bat, lined out to end the inning.
After giving up a single to Melky Cabrera in the bottom of the 5th, Zach Neal is replaced by Liam Hendriks. Neal went 4 and 2/3rds innings and gave up 8 hits, four runs (all earned) with 2 strikeouts. Henriks does his job by getting Jose Abreu to line out to Semien to end the inning.
In the 7th, Chad Pinder picked up his first major league hit before the 7th inning stretch. And who knew they actually authenticated rookie hits. But they did, right then and there, handed up to a guy sitting off the dugout—authentication even though the ball is going to Pinder! As an aside, I want to know how one gets that job as "MLB authenticator" for a given stadium. Imagine: You get to sit off the dugout, watch for all the great plays, tag the memorabilia as it's handed up to you, and keep enjoying baseball in the sun. Collect a paycheck every two weeks. I want that job!
Rzepczynski entered in the bottom of the 7th replacing Liam Hendriks. He began by walking J.B. Shuck but followed by getting Adam Eaton to softly groundout to him where he went 1-3 for the out. Melvin visited the mound after and called for Ryan Dull (2.25 ERA) to replace Rzepczynski. Dull did a nice job closing out the inning by getting Cabrera to pop up to catcher Bruce Maxwell. An important out as it was followed by the third stolen base of the game, this time by Tim Anderson to load runners at second and third with two outs. But Dull held those runners by getting Jose Abreu to fly out to center.
Jose Quintana, under 100 pitches, came in to start the 8th. This didn't last long as Robin Ventura pulled Quintana after walking the leadoff batter, Jake Smolinski. Quintana was replaced by Nate Jones. After 12 pitches to Marcus Semien, Nate Jones won the battle, striking Semien out swinging. He did the same to Khris Davis on three pitches. Ryon Healy watches a 97 MPH fastball for his first strike but ends up with a fluke base hit as he hits a hard grounder to Jones who loses the location of the ball as it bounces off the mound. Runners on first and second and still two outs, Alonso warming up on deck, but alas Eibner flies out to left fielder Melky Cabrera to end the half inning.
Daniel Coulombe replaced Ryan Dull in the bottom of the 8th and had an uneventful inning. Justin Morneau grounded out to first followed by Todd Frazier's first out of the day as he popped it up to Eibner in right. Narvaez did follow with a flare single, but this went nowhere as Sanchez grounded into a force out, 5-4.
Top of the 9th: Alonso, Pinder, and Maxwell are slated to face David Robertson. Alonso, on a cutter up and away, singles to left to start the final half inning. Pinder takes a deep fly to the warning track in center field for the first out. Stephen Vogt enters for Bruce Maxwell and chases a couple of pitches to go down swinging, strikeout victim #9 of the game. Alonso is allowed to steal second as Coco Crisp, 1-4 on the day, is the final hope. A deep, right field shot was not enough to get out of the park, run down by Eaton on the line. And that did it for our boys in gray today.
Quintana: Win #10 despite giving up 8 hits and two runs on 6 strikeouts and one base on balls.
Neal: Loss #2 on 8 hits and four runs on two strikeouts and no base on balls.
Tomorrow the Cleveland Indians join the Athletics at the Coliseum for a three-game series with Chevy free-parking on Tuesday.