On a 3-2 pitch, with the swing of a bat from Adam Rosales and an easy ground ball to short, the A’s lost 6-3 to the San Francisco Giants to close out the 2017 preseason. While only going a mediocre 16-18 during spring training, the A’s had quite a few bright spots this spring, like Yonder Alonso’s new swing paying dividends and Frankie Montas’ big league ready fastball, not to mention maintaining relatively healthy, as a team (Sonny-Gray-Be-Damned). The regular season has finally arrived, and it is finally time to put this rag-tag squad to the test.
Getting the start today, Andrew Triggs was a mix of unlucky and not very good, and his less-than-stellar final line is indicative of that fact. Triggs was able to get a lot of movement on his pitches in today’s game, and generated a lot of swings and misses and called strikes on breaking pitches, but on the flip side of his strong movement was his overall lack of control. Triggs was dancing in and out of danger all game, escaping a bases loaded jam in the first and a runners on second and third crisis in the second. Part of the cause of all the Giants’ on the basepaths early truly was bad luck, as the first three hits of the game the Giants had were high, slow moving bloopers that would be perfectly placed just within fair territory and far out of reach of the nearest infielders or outfielders. The other root cause of Triggs being in hot water early and often was from Triggs aforementioned control issues, wherein he would also walk one batter and hit another in his first two innings.
Triggs actually had a nice third inning, but in the fourth the wheels came off yet again, and the Giants weren’t just swatting bloopers and texas-leaguers anymore. A leadoff single was followed by yet another hit batsman, followed by yet another single to load the bases up for the Giants for the second time in four innings. There would be no dramatic escape for Triggs this time, however, as a 1-0 slider was launched into left-center field by Giants’ catcher Nick Hundly and over the wall for a grand slam. Triggs faced two more batters, getting a strikeout and a pop out, but by this point his pitch count was at its limit and he needed to be removed from the game. His final line on the day was 3.2 innings pitched, with six hits allowed, four runs earned, four strikeouts netted, and one walk and two hit batters.
The A’s offense was quiet versus Tyler Beede for the first two innings of the game, but it finally made some noise in the bottom of the third inning. Marcus Semien and Yonder Alonso got the rally started with back-to-back singles to begin the frame, and Matt Joyce drove them both around to score on a line drive double into the right field corner, Semien scoring easily and Alonso just barely beating out an offline throw to the plate. Jed Lowrie and Ryon Healy had a chance to drive Joyce in as well, but Lowrie flied out to center and left the game with an apparently very minor injury and Healy hit a hard ground ball out to short to end the threat.
With Raul Alcantara coming on in relief in the fifth inning, the game would pick up pace yet again. Alcantara wasn’t making perfect pitches, but he was generating a lot of weak contact and at ‘em balls and got the job done for his first two innings. The first seven hitters Alcantara faced were all quietly retired, but Alcantara then appeared to completely run out of steam following a fifteen-pitch battle against Christian Arroyo that ended mercilessly with a walk. Arroyo would advance to third on a stolen base and missed catch error by Lowrie-replacement Max Schrock receiving a strong throw from Josh Phegley, and shortly thereafter Justin of the Giants hit a home run onto the concrete staircase in the left field corner, tacking on two more runs to the team’s lead. Alcantara’s day would end immediately after he gave up a single to the next batter he faced, finishing with 2.2 innings pitched, two hits allowed, two runs earned, two strikeouts netted, and one walk.
A rally for the A’s offense was killed in the fifth inning when Trevor Plouffe grounded into a crucial double play, but the team still came out swinging in the sixth. Jaff Decker, replacing Khris Davis on the day, worked a walk and utilized his speed to steal second base. Josh Phegley, replacing Stephen Vogt on the day, hit a two-strike double that easily scored Decker and brought the A’s total number of runs on the day up to three.
The A’s wouldn’t put another run on the board in the sixth inning, or any of the other innings. The latter third of the game was quickly and neatly wrapped up by a mix of each team’s minor leaguers with no score changes or dramatic moments.
Spring Training 2017 is finally behind us. After a long, mostly barren, offseason, wherein the A’s committed to their future by holding onto their entire large stockpile of big-league-ready or near-big-league-ready prospects and making lateral moves at the big league level, just to have warm bodies at each position without needing to throw an unfinished product right into the fire, opening day is just a full day away. While it may not be wise to hold onto hope that the A’s exceed all of the rest of baseball’s expectations and be in the thick of the playoff chase all season long, it’s not like there isn’t precedence for a miracle season to come from this organization, and it’s that unbridled hope and anticipation of potential greatness that makes this part of the year so nice. Plus, no matter what happens, all signs are pointing towards this season being the one that finally sees the future of the A’s stadium woes disappear.
Good luck, A’s. Cheers to what we all hope will be an incredible season.