The A's played the most "2016 A's" game of the season tonight and it was absolutely atrocious. Graveman got knocked around and utterly failed to throw a shutdown inning, the A's played terrible defense, and they had probably the most pathetic 9th inning of the year. When does Spring Training start?
Graveman Hates Leads
Kendall Graveman lasted 4+ innings and managed 3 failed shutdown innings. He wanted nothing to do with a lead and is now something like ~43% this year in shutdown innings whereas the average is 71%.
Bizarrely, he looked very sharp in the 1st. KG got a groundball and two strikeouts looking in the first - Calhoun and Trout on the same pitch, a sinker with late movement located perfectly on the corner. Graveman was sitting 94 and throwing nothing but sinkers.
In the 2nd, Davis hit a ridiculously hard single that clanked off Simmons’s glove, then Alonso came through with a double to put runners on the corners, nobody out. Billy Butler hit into his patented double play, but but it was still enough to put the A’s on the board. If you love double plays, don't worry. The A's hit into a total of four tonight so there was plenty more to come.
Everything after the 1st inning was bad for Graveman, though some of it was on the defense. In the bottom of the 2nd, the Angels had runners on the corners with 2 outs. Graveman did his job and induced a softly hit ground ball up the middle by Carlos Perez. Lowrie fielded the ball and proceeded to gently toss it two feet behind Semien, who was running to the bag. The weak throw allowed a run to come home and somehow was ruled a hit, even though it seems like a textbook error - this scorer is juking the stats!
Strangely enough, the top of the 3rd featured the EXACT SAME SITUATION. Muncy and Lowrie singled to put runners on the corners with 2 outs. Stephen Vogt hit a soft groundball right to third baseman Yunel Escobar, who juggled the ball and allowed everyone to advance a base safely and put the A’s back up, 2-1.
In the bottom of the 3rd Escobar tried to redeem himself with a leadoff single. Kole Calhoun hit a LONG out to center field that got Escobar to second base. A Vogt passed ball gets Escobar to third, then Trout hits a bloop to right field to tie the game 2-2.
Graveman couldn't resist the chance to go a perfect 0/3 in shutdown innings. Healy hit the first of two doubles of the night in the top of the 4th to score Butler and Alonso and put the A's up 4-2 and in the bottom of the inning Graveman immediately gave up two solo home runs to re-tie the game at 4. Jefry Marte somehow hit a home run AGAIN, raising his 2016 home run total by 33% in 24 hours. Then two batters later, Cliff Pennington went to the exact same spot - his SECOND home run of the season.
In the bottom of the 5th, we got some Standard Issue Pasta Lowrie to put Trout on first, then Pujols lobbed a double down the right field line to score Trout and put the Angels back up 5-4. Triggs comes in, and not a moment too soon.
Triggs and Hendriks Solid
I'll keep this section short. Triggs and Hendriks were both very good out of the pen, combining for 4 innings with a total of 4 baserunners allowed (Liam Hendriks went 5-up, 5-down). Triggs allowed the runner Graveman left to score but that was mostly thanks to a Vogt passed ball. At least they gave the A's a chance.
Healy had a weird day. He hit two doubles, but also hit into one of the A's four double plays and made two crucial errors. He also made the defensive play of the game, though, so...huh?
It came in the bottom of the 5th, right after Triggs came in. Simmons hit a great bunt, but Healy made an even better charging throw to nail Simmons. Semien also made a nice play on the next pitch, a sharply hit groundball that he backhanded - he got the out at first but Pujols scored, 6-4 Angels.
The first of Healy's errors came in the 7th. With Triggs still on the mound, Trout singled, then Simmons hit a chopper up the left field line that Healy caught in foul territory. He rushed his throw to first a little bit and threw wide of the bag and into the stands to put the runners at 2nd and 3rd; Alonso didn’t seem to see the ball well because he didn’t really react to get the errant throw.
I'll get to the other error in a minute, but suffice to say, it was a frustrating night from Healy who has generally looked solid at third.
8th and 9th: teAse after teAse
In the 8th, the A’s loaded the bases with one out courtesy of a Billy Butler single and walks by Semien and Davis. Lowrie came up to bat ice cold over the last week but managed to walk a run home, putting the A’s within 1. Unfortunately Healy fell victim to an excellent double play by Cliff Pennington and Ji-Man Choi with the latter performing the splits at first base. They’d have to strike again in the 9th - which they did in the same sloppy manner as the rest of the game.
Cam Bedrosian came out to close for the Angels and proceeded to promptly walk Coco and Max Muncy. Stephen Vogt hit an RBI single to left field, but Muncy tripped and got caught in a rundown between second and third to make an out. How A's. Bedrosian then issued MORE walks to Davis and Alonso. Alonso arguably swung at the last pitch, but the A’s caught a break from the third base ump and had the bases loaded - though it’s frustrating to realize they would have taken the lead then had Muncy not stumbled. That lost run would prove to be huge - Valencia came in to pinch hit and immediately made me want to punch my couch when he accidentally hit into a checked swing 1-2-3 double play to end the threat with the game merely tied. The SECOND inning in a row with the bases loaded turning into a double play and fourth overall GIDP of the game for the A's.
What do you know! Mike Trout was the first batter of the 9th for the Angels! And in immensely frustrating, stark contrast to Valencia, Trout made a perfect slide into first after Healy YET AGAIN threw wide of first. Alonso made a nice swipe to tag but Trout’s steal was great - especially compared to seeing Valencia dog it to first base like he does literally every time.
What do you know! Pujols hits a massive home run to walk it off. A’s lose 8-6 on yet another home run after yet another defensive error. Both teams were sloppy, with tons of baserunners on both sides, but the A's made crucial errors of pitching, defense, and offense when it counted the most. Seriously - 2 errors, 4 double plays, and 12 hits given up including a walkoff home run to our rivals. Maybe next time?