I really think the best part of being a fan of a bad team is the capability to make people really, really mad.
I'm usually a huge proponent of tanking. I low-key think that the A's should be throwing every game, and I've gotten to the point where most normal wins just kinda annoy me. But at the same time, the Red Sox... there's nothing I want more than to hand them a painful, painful loss.
I don't particularly dislike the Red Sox as a franchise. They're fine, they're the less evil version of the Yankees. Reasonable people can disagree. But our recent history–losing every game against them this season by a billion runs–makes me want to inflict maximum pain. Today, we accomplished this.
Wow - that's the new worst Red Sox loss of the season.— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) September 4, 2016
The A's handed the Sox a ridiculously painful loss, and even though the Sox outscored the A's 27-5 this weekend, I'm happy.
Kendall Graveman: Ace
By necessity, Graveman has become the ace of this staff. That's not ideal by any means–he's a #3, and he's by far the best this club has to offer right now–but man, he can be a really excellent pitcher.
Graveman has been trending towards becoming a young Bartolo Colon lately. About 90% of his pitches over the past few months have been fastballs–4-seamers, cutters, sinkers. The offspeed stuff has been mostly relegated to show-me status. And that's fine, because it's been working. His cutter and his sinker are good enough that he's become a total groundball machine, and has cut the walks down to almost nothing.
However, today he reverted back to using the offspeed stuff pretty regularly, and he found success with that. He threw 14 sliders. That doesn't sound like very many. But keep in mind that he threw 33 all last month, over 40 innings of work. This was absolutely a change in approach.
Graveman says he studied up before this start. More breaking balls, changeups vs Sox, knew he had strikeout stuff. Fewer ground balls.— Joe Stiglich (@JoeStiglichCSN) September 4, 2016
It worked in spades, resulting in seven strikeouts, the most he's had in a single game since April.
The Red Sox never really got anything going. They scattered a few singles here and there, but never had a serious rally. Yoan Moncada singled, but immediately got picked off. That type of day for the Sox.
Graveman left after 6.1 innings. Ryan Dull took over, pitching 1.2 clean innings, striking out two. Ryan Madson got the ninth and was perfect.
A's offense: literally just enough
Eduardo Rodriguez was masterful today, and almost turned the game into a disaster for the A's. Rodriguez got through 7.2 innings without allowing a hit, which sounds about par for course for this A's team. But man, it's not ideal.
Fortunately, the A's got the chance to troll so hard. Marcus Semien hit a dribbler to Rodriguez in the 8th inning, Rodriguez kicked it around for a second and made a pretty nice throw to first. Semien was initially ruled out... but the A's challenged, and won.
The A's broke up a no-hitter with a replay-assisted infield single back to the pitcher.
Beautiful. Master trolling.
I'm sure you're going to hear some ESPN, Skip Bayless-types talk about how using a replay challenge in a no-hitter is bad sportsmanship. Personally, when I hear that take, I'm going to laugh hysterically forever. Forever.
That replay was what won the A's the game, too. The offense had absolutely nothing on Rodriguez, but by beating out that single, Semien forced him out of the game due to pitch count. If he had stayed in, I have no doubt that he would've completed the no-hitter. But he left, and Craig Kimbrel went out and put up one of the worst relief appearances of his career.
First, Kimbrel walked Danny Valencia on five pitches. Then, the first pitch he threw to Khris Davis was hammered to the wall. Brock Holt misplayed it, and the game was over. The bottom of the ninth lasted about a minute.
Today, the A's made the Red Sox drop out of first place in the AL East in the most annoying and pathetic way possible. There were so, so many Boston fans who left the Coliseum disappointed today. Maybe some of them cried? I hope so.
Baseball is fantastic.