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Game #95: If You Can’t Be Good, Be Good At It

A’s lose in virtually every way possible in opener at Giants

MLB: Oakland Athletics at San Francisco Giants Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Game thread unfun here.

Well, let’s see. I’m actually not sure where to start. Six amazing games in the last eight and both bad losses were mine. That’s not even exactly fair. This game had all the hallmark of a tight pitching duel, playoff-quality game, really until, after nearly squashing a Giants’ rally, Edwin Jackson fell off the mound and balked in a runner from third. I’d say it was all downhill from there, but really, the home run from Chad Pinder tied the game and restored the pitchers’ duel, Even down 2-1, the A’s staged a couple of incredible at-bats, both resulting in walks, eventually loading the bases with no one out, finally knocking Madison Bumgarner out of the game. And then promptly didn’t score any runs. The Giants then did the same, and Jeremy Bleich made his major league debut. With the bases loaded. And no one out. In a one-run Bay Bridge series. With both teams fighting for playoff spots. It was mean. Welcome to an ERA of infinity, since he didn’t actually record an out.

Oh, and literally days before he and his entourage of 14 people are set to head to the much-deserved All Star Game, Jed Lowrie leaves the game after a collision with his own teammate.

But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

Baseball is a game of inches, and momentum, and the domino (or butterfly) effect; never more evident in a game like tonight when had one line drive played out differently, a whole different set of relievers would be tasked with the game, and the result could have be vastly different.

It’s a shame, too. Jackson pitched better than his loss, holding the Giants to one batted-in run and one very weird play. And I can point to every missed opportunity by the A’s offense, but truth be told, they had three hits total. You’re not going to win many games with three hits. And after the way the A’s offense has been scorching the ball lately, they were bound for a cool-off. As obnoxious as tonight’s loss was, it still says a lot about this A’s team that they still made a game of it until the one crucial turning-point inning.

The game started out with so much sunshine and promise, as lead-off batter Marcus Semien singled and stole second base. A’s being A’s and Bumgarner being Bumgarner; he never moved. The bottom of the third provided the first ominous note of the game as Jed Lowrie caught a pop-up in right field, and collided with Piscotty in the process. He would later leave the game, but early reports show just a contusion, so the A’s can consider themselves lucky on that count.

Jackson breezed through the first three innings with zero trouble, but the fourth inning was interesting, to say the least. Jackson allowed a lead-off double, the runner moved to third on a ground-out and with the one out, he walked a batter to put runners on first and third. And to everyone’s surprise, Lucroy threw out Andrew McCutchen stealing second base for the second out, all without the run coming home. Jackson nearly escaped the inning, until he fell off the mound and the run came home anyway on the balk. Come out to the ballpark, they say. You’ll see something you’ve never seen, they say.

Pinder’s solo home run tied the game and ensured the A’s wouldn’t lose 1-0 on a balk, but a lead-off walk sunk Jackson in the sixth, as he would get two outs, but allow a RBI single to give the Giants the 2-1 lead.

And then, in the seventh, the A’s did what they have done so very often in this month of smoking hot baseball; they mounted a rally. Piscotty singled to open the inning, setting the table for two of the best at-bats I’ve ever seen. Both Matt Olson and Matt Chapman worked a walk against Bumgarner, and it was much less a story of Bumgarner walking the batters as it was the batters simply forcing their way on base. Both at-bats were incredible.

The following on was not. Finally knocking Bumgarner out of the game, the A’s were poised to tie the game, or at best, break it open, but Pinder struck out, and Lucroy lined out to third; the game-changing at-bat. Had the ball gone through, the A’s lead 3-2 and it’s a different game. Yesterday’s hero, Nick Martini, came in as a pinch-hitter and grounded out. It was then that you sensed the A’s might not have the magic tonight.

Ryan Dull lived up to his name tonight, allowing two singles and a walk to load the bases for the Giants. Enter Jeremy Bleich for his major league debut. Oof.

Exit a two-run double before he hit Brandon Belt and was pulled for Casilla. Who gave up three more.

And...wrap.

As they say, tomorrow is another day, and the A’s can forget about this one, and save their energy, their hitting, and their wins for the next two games of the series.

Tomorrow is another night game. 7:05 start, Brett Anderson vs. Jeff Samardzija, because apparently it’s 2009 and 2014 all over again. LET’S GO OAK-LAND!