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Game #55: Rays Rely On Long Ball, Down A’s 4-3

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The current A’s lost to the Rays, who were helped by a number of former A’s...

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Oakland Athletics John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

***Click here to revisit today’s Game Thread***

Sergio Romo has had an interesting month. Heck, he’s had a pretty interesting career. Romo came up with the Giants, the heir apparent to Brian Wilson, and collected 38 saves in 2013. He signed a big contract with San Francisco, and when that was over, he signed a much smaller one with the Dodgers. They gave up on him quickly, and last year, the Rays got him for a song.

Prior to this season, despite pitching nearly 500 innings in the major leagues, 35-year-old Sergio Romo had never started a game. Coming into tonight’s game, he’d started four. He hadn’t earned a save yet, however. And on a 2-2 pitch, with two outs, after the A’s had already scored two runs in the ninth, Sergio Romo hung a slider to Marcus Semien.

The A’s had their chances. The Rays made three errors. But the timely hits - or perhaps hits more generally (we got just five) - eluded us again. While it might be easy to point the finger at Daniel Gossett - the AAAA starter who gave up back-to-back-to-back shots with two outs in the third, Gossett played his role and turned in a very modern, if unspectacular pitching performance - five innings and three runs. Emilio Pagan and Ryan Dull each pitched two frames. Pagan was lights out, striking out four. Dull gave up a demoralizing ninth-inning home run, but was fine himself. Oakland’s staff, while not great tonight, certainly did enough to keep the Green and Gold in the game.

It’s tough to say enough good things about Blake Snell. If you’re looking to knock him, the number four looks kind of strange on a pitcher. That’s about all he did wrong tonight. He’s always limited hits and he’s always gotten strikeouts, but Snell has suddenly found consistent command, which has made him practically unhitable. The A’s got to him for an unearned run on two hits in 5.2 innings. But the former A’s, Joey Wendel and Daniel Robertson, combined with veterans C.J. Cron and Wilson Ramos, and hit just enough solo homers to sink the Athletics.

Still, the A’s had a chance in the ninth. Kevin Cash made the (curious, if you agree with Ray Fosse) decision to give Sergio Romo the save opportunity, despite the flurry of left-handed bats due up. Matt Olson started the inning with a missile single to right field. Stephen Piscotty followed that with his 11th double of the season. Matt Joyce and Bruce Maxwell each grounded out, but both Olson and Piscotty came around to score.

And so with two outs, the wiry-strong shortstop, Marcus Semien, walked to the plate as the A’s last hope. Semien fell into a 1-2 hole, but worked the count back even. Romo, perhaps still reeling from the inning’s beginning, made another mistake - he threw a cement mixer slider. The ball spun and spun but moved little on the vertical and horizontal planes; Semien may never get a better pitch. And Semien obliterated the ball...about fifteen feet foul. Semien would bounce out two pitches later.

The A’s fall again and slip back to a game above .500. But tomorrow is a new day and Sean Manaea is on the hill. This Rays team - despite trading Steven Souza and Corey Dickerson and Evan Longoria and Alex Colome and Tim Beckham - is not half-bad, and winning tomorrow and having the opportunity to play for a series split on Thursday could go a long way towards rebuilding some confidence, particularly with Khris Davis primed to come off the DL soon. Don’t lose faith; it’s just a matter of time before this offense get going again.