Despite being the only team in the sport to wear green, and having been the team to popularize non-white and gray uniforms across all of baseball upon their move to Oakland from Kansas City, the A’s still got to receive special green hats to wear in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, a day devoted to celebrating American people’s love of drinking unabashedly and excessively. In today’s game versus the Diamondbacks, the A’s wound up feeling green with envy as Arizona emerged victorious, 3-2.
Alcantara really needed to have a strong outing given his shaky position on the roster, and today he didn’t get it. It took some slick defense from Alonso (via successfully scooping a spiked Semien throw from shortstop) and a diving-stop-and-throw-from-the-knees-at-second by Lowrie to keep the first two Diamondback batters off base, and the following two batters hit hard singles into left field to place Alcantara in the hot seat anyways. Chris Owings then came to the plate next and lofted a high and deep fly ball to Khris Davis, who lost the ball in the sun and allowed the it to hit hard off the wall and bounce away from him. It would have been a difficult catch nevertheless, but likely a better outfielder would make a better play on it. By the time the dust had settled on the play, Owings was standing at third base and the two runners before him scored, giving the Diamondbacks the lead right off the bat.
Alcantara wouldn’t allow any more runs over his 3.1 total innings, but he didn’t look great either. His pitches didn’t have much movement and he rarely missed any bats, netting only one strikeout versus two walks, including a walk to the final batter he faced. He also allowed four total hits before being removed after reaching his pitch count limit. With only the two runs allowed, he technically did his part in keeping his team in the game. Overall, he pitched like a Natty Ice. You don’t want to ever have to rely on him, but he’s cheap as heck and could maybe get you somewhere if there is literally no other option.
In relief of Alcantara was Axford, who was all over the place. While he successfully escaped the fourth inning without allowing Alcantara’s stranded runner to score, he also couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. Four of his first five pitches were balls, and to kick off the fifth inning he walked his second batter on just his fourth total batter faced. That walk would come around to score, as Brandon Drury scorched a line drive to right field over Matt Joyce’s head, the runner crossing the plate easily. Before the play ended, the A’s would actually receive a gift from the Diamondbacks, and the 3rd base umpire, as Drury was gunned down attempting to stretch his hit into a triple. Axford would be removed before he could finish the fifth, his appearance ending after giving up an infield single. With a final line of 1.1 innings pitched, two hits allowed, two walks allowed, no strikeouts and an earned run, Axford pitched a lot like a fine wine. He has an attractive quality to him (his fastball) but in all honesty he could be replaced by something cheap off of the bargain rack and most people wouldn’t be able to tell any difference in quality or results.
The next major option in line was Madson, who got himself into, and out of, trouble. A leadoff strikeout for Madson was followed by a walk and a single to center. However, Madson was unfazed, and managed to strike out the next two batters to end the threat and prevent the Diamondbacks from increasing their lead. Santiago Casilla would follow up Madson, and despite giving up a leadoff single, he induced a double play against the next hitter and only needed to face three batters in his strong appearance. Sean Doolittle, in the eighth, would follow a similar pattern, as he erased a leadoff walk with a double play started by Franklin Barreto, playing at shortstop. Doolittle would get a strikeout to finish off his outing. Madson is a Moscow Mule. Santiago Casilla is a Cuba Libre. Sean Doolittle is a Daiquiri . All can be great, and usually do the job whenever they are called upon, but they lack some pizzazz and creativity, and can occasionally be hard to justify their cost.
Oakland’s offense was terrible today. The team continued to display surprising power, but today the team couldn’t capitalize and wound up squandering every opportunity that suddenly sparked up with horrid sequencing. Lowrie and De Aza each hit towering ground rule doubles that were sandwiched between short at bats and unproductive outs that would leave them stranded. De Aza nearly sparked a rally with a single later on, but would be easily gunned down in an attempt to steal second base. Against Archie Bradley, who entered the game today with a spring ERA over 11.00 and has had his young career plagued by control issues, the A’s scattered five hits, struck out twice, didn’t walk once, and scored one measly run.
That measly run came via Ryon Healy’s fourth home run of the spring in the fourth inning, a laser shot to deep left field. Ryon Healy is very much a Bloody Mary- the unquestionably best alcoholic beverage ever invented. His versatility means he can be enjoyed all day, any day, and he delivers a punch of heat with every ball he strikes. Anyone who wouldn’t drink up what Ryon Healy is serving at any time should immediately be regarded with strong suspicion.
The A’s would actually scratch another run across the plate, thanks in large part to Healy. After Lowrie began the sixth inning with a single, Healy went to the opposite field on a single of his own and was able to move Rosales, pinch running for Lowrie, over to third base. This was the first time the A’s had gotten two batters on base in the same inning all game (not including the inning where Healy homered and Stephen Vogt would later single). Davis would drive Rosales home as he beat out a flubbed double play attempt by the Diamondbacks, but the A’s would not be able to get any more hits in the inning to keep the rally going. The A’s offense is an appletini. It’s fine, but only a crazed few would be proud to have it and fewer still would advocate for its prowess.
The prospects tried their darndest to make the offense more interesting, having taken over the A’s lineup in the seventh inning. Franklin Barreto showed off his speed by leading off the seventh with an infield single dribbled up the third base line, but he didn’t remain on base for long as he then showed off his lack of seasoning on the basepaths by getting caught stealing easily. In the eighth inning, with one out, Matt Chapman singled hard up the middle and advanced to second on a wild pitch, but Decker and Maxwell softly grounded out to ensure that Chapman couldn’t come around to score to tie the game up. The prospects are a highly refined craft brew. They may take a long time to fully tap into their full potential, but the payoff could be groundbreaking, and even the fantasy of it can be refreshing.
The A’s didn’t put up a fight in the ninth inning, and the Diamondbacks never lost the lead they earned in the first inning in a 3-2 victory. Tomorrow, the A’s will host the Padres at 1:05.