***See Tonight's gamethread and comments here***
Kendall Graveman and the A's found themselves down early to the Angels thanks to the usual antics of Mike Trout (23 Career Homeruns vs. Oakland) and the big bat of Albert Pujols (2 HR's and 4 RBI off Graveman). But the young A's bats, relatively quiet in the first two games of this weeknight series, broke out in a big way in the 4th inning, scoring 8 runs on 2 homeruns (Matt Olsen and Bruce Maxwell), 6 hits and 3 walks. Here are the two homers:
On a hot and humid night in Orange County, Kendall Graveman struggled, but held tough through 5 innings (5 runs in 6 hits. 3 walks and 5 strikeouts). Graveman pitched well against most of the Angels line-up. Unfortunately, Mike Trout was back after missing the first two games of the series with a sore neck. Trout made his presence felt all night (HR, Triple, Walk, 2 Singles) and Albert Pujols all of the sudden remembered he was Albert Pujols and cracked homeruns #20 and #21.
Even with the outbursts from Trout and Pujols, the A's found themselves up 8-5, going into the 7th inning. Poor Bob Melvin has such limited choices of who to bring in to hold leads these days...Put yourself in Robert Paul Melvin's shoes...who would you feel confident bringing in to hold a lead in the 7th inning if you were the A's manager?
Simon Castro? Some 2nd half success, but also been hit hard lately.
Ryan Dull? Hasn't been able to locate his slider all season and going into the 7th inning tonight had already pitched an inning in the 6th.
Chris Hatcher? Honestly, this would have been my choice...But more on "Hatch" in a moment.
Daniel Coulombe? Not with 2 of the first batters due up in the inning being Righties (Trout and Pujols).
So what did BoMel end up doing? He went with Dull for a second inning. It worked against Ben Revere as Dull recorded an out against the Angels lead-off hitter. Then A's killer, Mr. Trout, would come up and single, followed by a long battle and eventual hit batter for Pujols. Next, Melvin would turn to Coulombe to try and take advantage of the lefty-lefty matchup....The only one taking advantage was Calhoun, as he singled off the A's LOOGY to put the Angels within two. Melvin would march out to grab Coulombe and insert the afore mentioned, Chris Hatcher. Hatch would strikeout CJ Cron in an impressive pitch sequence and then walk Luis Valbuena. In the moment, the walk didn't seem to hurt anything. The bases were now loaded, but with two outs, weak hitting (and former Athletic), Cliff Pennington strode to the plate. A's Nation had to feel good about the matchup.This is what happened next:
The A's bats would go down quietly in the 8th and 9th innings to close out the sweep for the Angels.
Frustrating game for the green and gold...When a team puts up a snowman ("8") in one inning, you assume they will win the game. Not tonight.
When you have a bullpen filled with journeyman and young pitchers, there are bound to be games like this, but this hasn't been just one game...The A's last place finish will place much of its blame on the unstable 2017 bullpen and its inability to provide clean 7th and 8th inning holds.
Looking ahead to next season, the A's don't have a ton of minor league relief bullpen help projected to be ready for Oakland. Perhaps the team can convert a starter or two? Jharel Cotton and AJ Puk could both ramp up their fastballs to 96-97 mph coming out of the pen and limit the liability of some of their secondary breaking pitches...Any other starters come to mind who could potentially shore up the bullpen in 2018? Would be curious to hear other ideas...
The A's board a flight tonight to Seattle, are off tomorrow, and then are back at it against the M's beginning Friday Night...With rosters expanding to 40, it will be interesting to see who gets called up and who gets to play.
See you Friday!