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Game #28: Vlad Jr.’s First Hit Sinks A’s, A’s Lose 4-2 in Ninth

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Toronto Blue Jays Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

Game Thread #1
Game Thread #2

On a day when the A’s got the very best of Mike Fiers, they absolutely could not come up with any offense except a pinch-hit home run from Robbie Grossman that briefly tied the game at 2 and brought excitement to this one for a minute. But the one hit over seven other innings did them no favors, and the very first hit by Vlad, Jr., a ringing double, was always going to end the game against Petit, not Treinen.

It’s not that I’m always on the “use the closer” bandwagon. I understand that Treinen is in high demand; that he’s one of our only trusted arms out of the bullpen so far this year and you have to really pick and choose where you use him. I just happen to think this might have been one of these times. The A’s got pretty incredibly lucky on Grossman’s shot; up to that inning, the A’s had collected exactly one hit and looked buried against Stroman all night long. The—honestly—pretty darn good performance by Mike Fiers and the shot that tied the game gave the A’s a nice lift, especially after last weekend’s dumpster fire; Treinen was off a day of rest, and the A’s had a shot to win it; I would have used him tonight and tried to open the series with a win. And what makes the game so frustrating is that they came within a few inches of using him for the save had Pinder’s ball headed over the wall instead of a settling for a double. But where I would have used Treinen, I can’t really argue it strongly; you have to have a secondary arm in the pen as well.

The real fault in tonight’s game lies with the A’s offense, perhaps set up badly by the home plate umpire’s wide strike zone early, but they refused to make any adjustments against Stroman and pretty much deserved the “L” with one hit in seven innings, despite the firework hit of the eighth.

Fiers’ night started off as rocky as possible as he began the scoring by allowing a home run to Eric Sogard. Yes, you read that right. He allowed another run on a RBI single in the third and the A’s were down 2-0. Thanks in part to Chad Pinder’s terrific catch in the fourth to rob Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. of his first hit, Fiers settled down and pitched 7 terrific innings, allowing six hits, two runs and striking out 5. And he’s lucky he didn’t get a loss.

Much like last Friday, the A’s struggled early and often at the plate. Khris Davis looks lost; 0-4 with 4 strikeouts; my three year old could have probably struck him out with an outside slider tonight. Marcus Semien opened the fourth with a single and later walked. Morales also walked. That was literally the extent of the offense in seven full innings.

The lone excitement for the A’s in this one came after a one-out single by Ramon Laureano. Robbie Grossman was selected to pinch-hit for Phegley and he hit an electric, exciting two-run, game-tying, pinch-hit home run to knot the game at 2.

Semien (the lone bright spot on offense tonight) had another single in the eighth, but he didn’t move from first. Wendelken, despite struggling in his inning, was bailed out by some defense, and the game remained tied through eighth.

A two-out double by Pinder that came oh so tantalizingly close to a go-ahead home run sparked the A’s for a moment, but Jurickson Profar, despite a pretty good at-bat, couldn’t score him.

And then came Vlad, banging a ringing double down the line against Petit to open the inning and fire up the crowd. The easy sacrifice bunt moved his pinch-runner to third, and a smoked fly ball to Profar gave the A’s life for a moment, and then, just as quickly, it was snatched away as a home run from Drury lifted the Blue Jays to the 4-2 victory.

It was an ugly loss; the A’s offense once again looked missing in action, and the bullpen wasn’t there again. And yet again, the A’s open a series with a loss and hope to recover this weekend. The A’s play tomorrow at 12PM; Brett Anderson looks to be making his start; he’ll be facing Aaron Sanchez.