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Game #51: A's Drop Fourth Straight

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It's hard to get enough blame around this game in a succinct recap, but let's just say that Sonny Gray's 4-run fourth and 3-run fifth were not the best; the exact opposite of the shut-down inning he was looking for after the A's offense miraculously scored one run in the second and two in the fourth. They also struck out 19 times on the day.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

We knew things would be bad when the A's started two players with an OBP under .300 in the one/two slot in the lineup, and it was as bad as you might imagine. However, maybe I'm looking at this all wrong; actually, they did manage to sandwich four runs around their nineteen strikeouts, so maybe they should get a participation trophy anyway. Gray started the game so well, and like everything else with green and gold, the wheels fell off his performance, too.

It was an ugly game.

Take tonight's game, they said. It will be fun, they said. I hope it's a great game, they said.

Narrator: It was not a great game.

No, but seriously. The A's struck out nineteen times. I can't even get my brain around that number. In fact, had I not seen it myself, I would wonder how in the world they scored one run, much less four, but they did; working harder than ever to do it because virtually none of their at-bats today moved runners.

Let's start with my complaints with the lineup. You can look it up when I saw it; I emailed friends asking if the one/two slot was a joke, and I made the second comment of the game thread, incredulous. Like, does A's management even care? They started Rajai Davis and Trevor Plouffe first and second in a game in which, presumably, they wanted to win behind Sonny Gray. Did Gray look at the lineup and laugh?

Not to say "I told you so" (in what was the easiest call ever), but both Rajai Davis and Trevor Plouffe went 0-5 with 4K's. That's 0-10 with 8K's from the top of your lineup. ARE WE SERIOUS?! Whose bad decision was that? My toddler makes better choices with open flames. I might not have started them at all, much less for five at-bats a piece.The entire production of the game came from Alonso, Healy, Joyce and Lowrie, with a Davis (Khris, obviously) hit mixed in, trying valiantly to erase the black holes at the top of the lineup.

Trevor Bauer struck out the side in the first inning (those 19 strikeouts had to start somewhere) to start the game. Cue the second inning. Yonder Alonso, who has been awesome so far this year, started off the inning with a walk and was singled to third by Healy. Matt Joyce picked up the RBI on the ground-out--and the A's first run--and was initially called safe at first, but later replay reversed the call.

Leading 1-0, Gray shut down the Indians, and even received some run support in the fourth. Back-to-back singles by Davis and Alonso opened the inning, while a Healy double gave the A's the 2-0 lead, and a Joyce sacrifice fly made it 3-0. With two outs, Rosales made a bid for the A's fourth run, but Healy was called out at the plate on an admittedly terrific throw by Brantley.

Staked to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning, what could go wrong for Sonny Gray? It's best not to ask. He was visibly upset as he walked the lead-off hitter, and even though he countered with a strikeout for the first out, he allowed a perfect bunt single to put two on. Another singled scored the first Cleveland run; a double the second. Another double plated two more, and just like that, the A's 3-0 lead became a 4-3 deficit.

As if to demonstrate a true shutdown inning, Bauer struck out the side in the fifth, sending Gray right back to the mound. Where he promptly allowed everything: A lead-off home run (5-3), another walk, a stolen base, a RBI single (6-3), another stolen base, a ground out, a wild pitch (7-3), another ground out and another single before mercifully being pulled from the game in the wake of seven unanswered runs.

Meanwhile, the A's again struck out in their side of the sixth, mixed around an Alonso single. Surprise--they would also struck out in their side of the seventh. Literally, the strikeouts would never end. They tried to strike out in all of their eighth inning at bats just to make it a clean sweep, but they only racked up two; a single by Lowrie and a double by Alonso--his third hit of the night--set the table for a Cleveland error to allow the A's fourth run.

Frankie Montas gave up a two-run home run to seal the game for Cleveland, and off the A's went into the good night. All I'm left with is...well, at least they didn't make an error in tonight's game?

We close the series and the month tomorrow at high noon; Manaea looking to break up the losing streak.