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Game #45: The Almost Comeback

Hahn got blown up and then exited the game with a triceps strain in the 3rd. The A’s had chance after chance to win this game but just couldn’t do it. A’s lose 11-9.

Miami Marlins v Oakland Athletics Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Before getting into the recap I guess I’ll just note the most important developments: Jesse Hahn left the game in the 3rd inning. He started the inning with his fastball at only 90mph and left after a handful of pitches. It was announced later that he has a right triceps strain.

Yonder Alonso took a pitch to the wrist and left the game. He has a contusion, but nothing broken.

That’s two potentially major blows to the A’s moving forward, depending on what their recoveries look like. I don’t think that contusions are generally too big of a deal (though I’m not a doctor), but as we’ve seen with Sean Doolittle, triceps strains can be troubling and persistent little buggers.

Anyway, on to the cap. It was a wild one.

Innings 1-3: Oof

Dee Gordon bunted a single to start the game and Jesse Hahn wasn’t quick enough to field it. When the inevitable steal attempt came, Vogt’s throw went well wide of second base and trickled into the outfield while speedy Dee comfortably cruised into third. Vogt’s catching has become seriously problematic, and we’ve basically reached 2014 Wild Card Game levels of baserunning every time he is behind the plate. On the next pitch, Giarncarlo Stanton lined a ball into left field to drive Gordon in and make it a very quick 1-0 to build on the very quick first error of the game. A double play helped Jesse Hahn escape the inning without further damage, but he hadn’t looked sharp to start things off - too many balls, not a lot of oomph to his pitches.

Things went further downhill in the 2nd. JT Realmuto hit an infield single to Plouffe, then JT (another?) Riddle hit a double of the “Khris Davis’s arm” variety on an elevated fastball to put runners at second and third with 2 outs. Ichiro laced a single perfectly between first and second to make it 3-0. Then Dee Gordon tripled to make it 4-0.

Alonso hit a home run in the bottom of the 2nd, at least. It was his 9th in May, the most in baseball.

Hahn came out for the 3rd inning and his fastball was only hitting 90mph. He gave up a single to Christian Yellich and then, 3 pitches into the second at-bat, the training staff came out to the mound and Hahn left the game. Bobby Wahl came in to pitch and basically just gave up a whole mess of hits. I’ll spare the long description but it quickly became 7-1 Miami. We also saw 2 wild pitches, both of which were totally blockable. Oh, Vogt. 10 hits, 7 runs for Miami through 3 innings. Ugh.

Marlins Try to Give it Away, A’s Say No

So you would think after reading the above that it was game over, right? It certainly felt that way. I started to tune things out and go about eating my dinner and was just ready to emotionally disengage from the game.

But the Marlins actually manage to rival the A’s in their ineptitude. Jed Lowrie took a nasty pitch to the ribs to open up the 4th inning. The Marlins lead the major leagues in hit batters, and they would build on that lead nicely tonight. Khris Davis walked, then Ryon Healy hit a booming homer to straightaway center to make it 7-4. Just like that, the A’s were back in the game.

Axford pitched the 5th, fresh from the DL, and gave up three singles to make it 8-4. Goodbye momentum. Axford and Coulombe combined to pitch the 6th with no more runs yielded.

The A’s had more opportunities in the bottom of the 6th. Jed Lowrie hit a leadoff double, just kind of flipping it into the left field corner. Then Khris Davis blasted a double of his own, this time to the right field corner. 8-5. Jarlin Garcia replaced Marlins starter Jose Urena and proceeded to hit Yonder Alonso dead on the right wrist. Alonso immediately crumpled and walked off the field with the trainer and we all started planning our obituaries for the 2017 season. Talk amongst Glen and Ray turned to discussing who the pinch runner would be. But then, in a WWE-esque twist, the pinch runner was…Yonder Alonso. He came trotting out of the dugout to great cheers and the season could resume. He would spend the rest of the evening after this inning on the bench, but his ability to tough out a really nasty hit to the wrist was really (get ready for it) gritty. Nick Wittgren came in to pitch for Miami. Healy watched three straight strikes go by with 0 outs and 2 runners on, but Stephen Vogt finally came through with what felt like his first RBI of the season, driving the ball straight up the middle to make it 8-6. Unfortunately, Plouffe followed up with an ugly strikeout and pinch hitter Chad Pinder popped it up to end the inning with a couple of runners stranded.

In the 7th, more slipping. Daniel Coulombe made a mistake to his prey, a lefty. The white-hot Justin Bour hit a leadoff home run on a bad curveball to make it 9-6 (one of four hits and four runs he would notch tonight). We also came so close to seeing Khris Davis throw out a baserunner - he made a throw right on the money to try and catch the runner returning to first after Davis nabbed a line drive, but his puny throwing strength just wasn’t *quite* enough.

In the bottom of the 7th, yet another wasted opportunity. Mike Barraclough was in to pitch for Miami, pronounced “bear claw”. Just fantastic. I’m really envious of that name. Joyce walked. Canha walked after being down 0-2. Lowrie got a good swing but hit the ball directly to Ichiro. Khris Davis got an absolute hanger to hit and popped it up behind second base. Dee Gordon backed up to catch it…and closed his glove just a little bit too early, knocking the ball away and allowing everyone to advance safely. An opportunity within an opportunity, a world within the world. An easy 3-run homerun became the unlikeliest bases loaded. One out. Surely this would be the time the A’s capitalized and took the game the Marlins were handing to them. Nope. Rajai Davis popped out and Ryon Healy barreled up the ball to straightaway center once again, but this time not enough to leave the ballpark. Had Healy swung at the first pitch he saw, an absolute hanger, it probably would have put the A’s on top 10-9. But he took the meatball and barreled up the good pitch.

Hendriks was in for the top of the 8th. He gave up a single to Stanton but nothing more. Stanton tagged up on a completely routine flyout to left and successfully made it to second versus Khris Davis’s arm. It wasn’t even particularly close. This defense hurts my body.

In the bottom of the 8th: Vogt leadoff walk, Plouffe GIDP.

Josh Smith pitched the 9th for Oakland and did his usual thing of getting utterly knocked around. Three singles and a walk made it 11-6 Miami.

The A’s couldn’t resist one last teAse in the bottom of the 9th. Matt Joyce walk and Jed Lowrie doubled, his second of the night, to make it 11-7. Then with 2 outs, Rajai Davis of all people managed to do what our power hitters had failed at multiple times tonight and square up a curveball perfectly, hitting a home run to the left field corner and make it 11-9. Was this it? Was this the real comeback? Ryon Healy followed up with an infield single to Dee Gordon. The tying run was at the plate. This had to be it. This was the comeback. Stephen Vogt was coming up. I believe, right?

But remember, this is 2017 Vogt. He fouled off a couple of pitches he probably could have singled on last year, then struck out on a slider in the dirt to end the game.

Nico summed it up best in the comments:

"Damn it, come back and win this game!"

"No! No we refuse!"

"Then we’re gonna walk the leadoff hitter on 4 pitches!"

"It won’t work! We’ll bounce into a DP!"

"Fine, we’ll drop pop ups too and hang sliders to your best power hitters!"

"Ha! We’ll pop those up and take them."

Nico, your posts sustained me during this marathon suck-fest. Thank you.