You know it’s going to be a long, long night when your starting pitcher starts the game with an out, a single and a walk to bring up Albert Pujols in the first inning. Now, I’m not saying that Pujols is Benji Molina (he of the famous line “you can clock his speed with a calendar”)...oh who am I kidding? I totally am. Albert Pujols is slow. You can bobble the play, double-clutch the throw and still throw him out in nearly all instances. For example, look at the double-play Pinder and Lowrie completed in the eighth with Pujols as the batter; the easiest DP you’ll have in baseball these days. You know who missed the memo? Starting pitcher Chris Bassitt. Fielding the slowly hit ball near the third base line, Bassitt picks up the ball, rushes the throw...and apparently throws to the stands, because that ball was nowhere near first baseman Matt Olson. And just like that, before the A’s ever took a swing against Tyler Skaggs, they were down 2-0.
The Angels didn’t score all of their runs on errors, but it wasn’t pretty. Back-to-back singles opened the third inning and AGAIN Pujols reaches on an error, this time by third baseman Chad Pinder, allowing another run to score.
A’s defense = -3 runs, Angels lead 3-0.
Speaking of third base, it was announced after the game that Matt Chapman has been officially DL’d; the A’s have called up Franklin Barreto.
Errors weren’t the only way the Angels scored in the third inning. Two RBI singles brought in another two runs, and the Angels were staked to a 5-0 lead. A Kinsler home run in the fourth made it 6-0, and in the fifth, someone called Carlos Ramirez walked in a run for the Angels seventh run, and then allowed a sacrifice fly for their eighth. Yes, that is 8-0, Angels.
Strangely enough, the A’s had all the opportunities in the world to go head to head in a barn burner in this game. They could have scored eight runs; almost despite themselves, they managed four. I’d also like to point out that when the A’s have a runner at third and less than two outs, my least favorite person at the plate is Khris Davis. It’s feast or famine with him; he may be on a home run jag, but he’s quite literally never met a ground ball base hit or a sacrifice fly. By himself, tonight, Davis made six outs in his four plate appearances; two strikeouts, two double-plays, basically the least productive night one can have at the plate, and a massive rally-killer to boot.
The A’s worked a walk in the first, erased by a Lowrie double-play to end the inning (the only out in his three-hit night), they had a two-out single in the third, they started the fourth with back-to-back singles from Pinder and Lowrie that were erased by Davis’ first double-play, and it was only in the fifth, down 8-0, that the bats finally came alive. Canha reached on the Angels’ only error of the night to lead off the inning, and with two outs, Phegley doubled him in for the A’s first run. A wild pitch moved Phegley to third, and another double, this time by Semien, scored him. Chad Pinder worked a 3-1 count, and instead of scoring another A’s run, grossly popped up the 3-1 pitch.
Lowrie singled to open the sixth inning, with the A’s down 8-2, and Davis promptly erased him in his second double-play of the night. Piscotty doubled in the seventh, but was stranded, and the A’s came right back in the eighth. A one-out walk to Pinder and a ground rule double by Lowrie (as the ball got stuck under the wall padding) put runners on second and third with Khris Davis at the plate. Since he didn’t hit a home run, about the only way the run was going to score from third was a wild pitch, which happened, and scored the A’s third run. The new runner on third, of course, was stranded, as Davis struck out, followed by Olson.
The A’s even made one last effort in the ninth; Piscotty knocked a one-out single, pinch-hitter Dustin Fowler (WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN STARTING! How will he ever learn to hit lefties if he doesn’t face any?) singled, Semien walked and a wild pitch brought in the A’s fourth run before Pinder struck out to end the game.
The A’s were handed gift runs instead of the big hits, and the Angels not only were handed the runs back, but they also hit. It was a forgone conclusion from the very first inning, I’m afraid, although the A’s did fight until the very last out.
They had better win tomorrow. Day game, 1:05. I’ll be there in person. Sean Manaea will take on John Lamb. We’ll have all the action here.