***Click here to revisit today’s Game Thread***
A bloop and a blast. A walk and a shot. A crooked number. The A’s always seemed on the verge of getting back into Monday night’s contest. If that’s overstating it a bit, they certainly seemed close to the verge on several occasions. Time and again, I found myself muttering the one or two things that needed to happen for the game to become competitive again.
They just never happened.
There were bloops and there were blasts. Unfortunately, all the blasts were hit by the players donned in Dodger blue. And Los Doyers got started quickly. After the A’s went quietly in their half of the first inning, Chris Taylor and Corey Seager hit back-to-back home runs to give Los Angeles an early edge. Taylor’s home run alone would be all the offense the Dodgers would need.
Manaea Was Good Enough Against An Imposing Offense
The beginning of tonight’s contest was not kind to Sean Manaea, and you’d be forgiven if you expected it to snowball as you watched Seager trot around the bases. Manaea had just left two fastballs middle-middle and seemed to be searching for answers before he’d even recorded an out.
But Manaea’s turned in a professional effort in the end, which is a credit to his competitiveness. He clearly didn’t have his best stuff – he wasn’t nearly the pitcher we saw dazzle in his first two outings – but he was plucky, gutting through five innings (he might have stayed in for the sixth if he didn’t have to hit for himself), allowing just the two aforementioned solo shots. He was always on the brink of disaster, yielding seven hits and a walk, but maintained his composure and gave the A’s every opportunity to get back into the game.
Fewer positive remarks can be made about the A’s offense. While Hyun-Jin Ryu didn’t take his no-hit bid as far as Shoehi Ohtani did a few days ago, he did blank the A’s in the hits column for 4.2 innings. In the end, the A’s garnered just five hits, only one of which went for extra bases - a seventh inning double from Marcus Semien.
Semien’s double added insult to ineptitude. Stephen Piscotty had walked to open the frame but remained on first base two outs later when Semien came to bat. Semien hit a ball on the screws that looked like it would get the A’s on the board…except the ball bounded over the short left field wall for a ground-rule double. Stephen Piscotty walked back to third base from home plate, which he had already crossed. The next batter, Matt Chapman, flew out to end the inning.
The A’s threatened in the ninth too. With one out, Khris Davis and Matt Olson singled in succession, which prompted Dave Roberts to bring in Dodgers’ closer Kenley Jansen. But Jansen made quick work of the next batter, striking out Jonathan Lucroy. Piscotty came to bat hoping to extend the game, and worked the count to 3-0. But Jansen battled back, and induced a weak ground out to end the game.
Perhaps the most negative performance of the night was delivered by Liam Hendriks. Despite throwing 21 pitches, Hendriks is credited with 0.0 innings pitched. After he replaced Manaea to open the sixth, Hendriks immediately allowed a home run to the rejuvenated Matt Kemp. He then proceeded to allow a single, a double, and a walk before being lifted.
Beyond Hendriks, the bullpen was actually pretty good. Danny Coulombe pitched two clean innings, striking out three. Chris Hatcher looked a little better too, pitching the eighth, striking out one and allowing one hit but no runs.
Odds and Ends
Plays of note: could Jake Smolinski have done better on this?
A familiar feeling. #Dodgers pic.twitter.com/ferlNEHwzv— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 11, 2018
It would have been an awfully difficult home run to rob, but I do have to think he could have timed his run and jump a bit better.
And this Matt Olson glove flip is definitely worthy of another look.
.@mattolson21 is so smooth pic.twitter.com/5Tth3e8N7Z— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) April 11, 2018
It’s still early, and there are plenty of things to worry about if you so choose. I don’t know if it’s too early to be concerned about: (insert player of choice, but probably Jonathan Lucroy or Stephen Piscotty.) Lucroy has the advantage of being a catcher, and as long as he’s as solid defensively as his track record suggests (his ever-slipping framing stats notwithstanding), he is going to be valuable. And at the end of the day, he’s only signed for a season, and his greatest value will likely come from mentoring Bruce Maxwell and a young pitching staff. Piscotty is another story, for a variety of reasons, but I think there’s still cause to hope he comes good.
We’re back tomorrow at 7:10 PM to close out this quick two-game set. Daniel Mengden gets the ball for the A’s, opposed by Alex Wood. It sounds like Trayce Thompson may get his first start, and it’d be great to see Franklin Barreto break into the starting nine as well.