If last night’s game was a checklist of pretty much everything good that can happen in baseball, then tonight was our reality check that this sport can also be cruel and capricious. The A’s battled back after an early stumble by Manaea, but Dull smothered things in the 9th with a 3-run, 0-2 home run to the Angels’ #8 hitter. This was actually a really fun game if you ignore the last 15 minutes.
And come on Dull, did you really have to ruin my title of “Lowrie: The Professional”? I was ready to hit submit.
Jed Lowrie is so hot right now. The consummate professional bashed a home run in the 2nd inning, a double in the 4th, and a single in the 7th to lock up 3⁄4 of a cycle. He was instrumental in the A’s offense all night and looks faster than he has in years both on the basepaths and in the field. Is this the healthy Lowrie we’ve been missing the last few years?
Manaea Rolls with the Punches
Sean Manaea had a really rough second inning. After striking out Albert Pujols, he gave up a 4 pitch walk and two singles to load the bases. The A’s temporarily dodged trouble - Danny Espinosa hit a pop fly to shallow right and Lowrie waited until the last moment to lumber out of the way, leaving Matt Joyce stumbling and rolling to make the catch. But make the catch he did, and somehow the runner at third didn’t take advantage of his tumble. It wasn’t enough to get Manaea out of the inning though - he left a ball in the middle of the zone and the Angels’ ninth place hitter Maldonado knocked in 2 runs on a single, followed by a Yunel Escobar single to make it 3-1. For the 2nd inning at least, Manaea made mistakes everywhere, leaving lots of balls in the middle of the plate and generally not getting a lot of good movement on his pitches.
Fortunately, he came back out after that and did exactly what you would hope for from a young pitcher: he didn’t get rattled. He had 3-up, 3-down innings in the 3rd, 4th, and 6th with strikeouts sprinkled throughout. He gave up another run in the 5th when Mike Trout slashed a ball down the third base line allllll the way into the left field corner, by hey, you’re gonna get Trouted sometimes and there’s not much you can do. Manaea’s recovery after the 2nd was encouraging, and even though it wasn’t a great outing overall, there were definite positives to take away.
A’s on Offense
In addition to the aforementioned Jed homer in the 2nd, wunderkind Ryon Healy got his first hit of the season with a booming dinger to center field off Matt Shoemaker in the bottom of the 1st (he also walked and singled later!). Those two solo shots would be Oakland’s only runs until the 7th inning.
Lowrie kicked off the 7th with a single against Blake Parker, the Angels relief pitcher who had been untouchable in the previous inning. Things quickly unraveled for Parker, as a wild pitch advanced Lowrie to second and a Yonder Alonso single knocked him in to put the A’s down only one run, 3-4. “Lockdown pitcher” Bud Norris came in for the second consecutive night and Marcus Semien put up a great at-bat against him, adapting after swinging at a couple of bad pitches and ultimately poking a double down the right field line to put runners on second and third, still with just one out.
And finally, after a terrible first game and a half, Rajai Davis came through. He blasted a ball off the glove of the first baseman and immediately took off at a dead sprint. The ball slowly trickled into foul territory, and all the while Rajai chugged along. Alonso and Semien scored easily and Rajai was passing second base before anyone on the Angels even got a glove on the ball. A throwing error by future hero Danny Espinosa turned it into a little league home run, as the ball tumbled from into third base foul territory and Rajai trotted home comfortably. I was actually cackling as this all went on.
Hendriks Great, Madson Good, Dull Bad
Liam Hendriks pitched the 7th and was utterly dominant, working a quick inning with two strikeouts and all of his pitches used to great effect.
Ryan Madson was slightly more stressful in the 8th. The inevitable happened and Calhoun got on base in front of Trout. But Madson worked his magic, striking out Trout and getting Pujols to ground into a double play to thoroughly crush the Angels’ hopes - or so we thought.
Ryan Dull came in to close the game, something many of his have been cheering for here on AN. It did not go as planned. Dull botched his opportunity as closer. Plouffe did him no favors by fumbling a completely field-able ball, a play that may have sent the game into extra innings had it been made, but Dull ultimately still owns the loss. Following Plouffe’s mistake (though not technically an error), Dull gave up a single to Cameron Maybin and then a backbreaking home run to Danny Espinosa to throw the Angels back the lead, 6-7. Because giving up a home run to the #8 hitter on an 0-2 pitch is a totally acceptable thing for a closer to do.
Sigh. It’s a long season and this is going to happen, so maybe it’s good that we got one of these out of the way early. Tune in tomorrow for a shot at redemption at 7:05.