For every break the A’s needed in tonight’s game, the umpires seemed like they were taking it away and giving it to the Astros.
It started in the top of the 4th inning, with the A’s up 1-0 after a Stephen Piscotty home run a couple innings earlier. Brett Anderson, who had only given up a walk and a single so far, stood in a 3-2 count against Michael Brantley. Without hesitation, Anderson threw a perfect 81 mph slider that started in the middle and crossed the plate right at the edge. Ball. A bad call in the moment, a terrible call a few minutes later.
That free walk became the Astros’ go-ahead run when Josh Reddick launched a two-run homer into right-center field. At this point, if you’re an A’s fan, you can’t feel too sorry for yourself. Granted, the flashbacks to the Soria game weren’t pleasant, but we can’t expect to hold a 1-0 lead the whole game. Surely, we’ll score at least a couple more runs and get a chance to win the game.
That chance came, and then it went. The A’s did everything they could to capitalize on it. Following a couple of singles from Ramon Laureano and Josh Phegley, Marcus Semien hit a high fly ball down the right field line that looked out of reach for Reddick. But having won a Gold Glove for his play in that same right field, fans knew not to take the hit for granted. As the ball neared the ground, Reddick slid right over the foul line and missed the catch in the process. From the viewer’s real-time eye, it was unclear whether the ball was fair or foul. The first base umpire called it foul and Bob Melvin, naturally, issued the challenge.
As the umps reviewed the play, all the fans sitting in the stadium and watching it at home saw the replay and realized what was plain and obvious: fair ball. Not only did the ball appear to hit the foul line — this alone wouldn’t have been enough to overturn the call — but anyone with pupils could see white chalk rise up from the ground immediately after the ball hit the ground. News flash: chalk don’t fly. But the call was upheld, Semien was ejected for being angry, and the A’s were robbed of what would’ve been a two-run triple to take the lead.
So far in the game, that’s a three-run swing. One extra run for the Astros and two taken from the A’s. If RoboUmp had been behind the plate and watching the foul line, the score could be 3-1 for the A’s going into the 6th inning. Obviously, that’s not how alternate timelines work and a whole other different set of scenarios could’ve played out, but you can’t blame any A’s fan who felt cheated this game.
You could tell immediately after the blown call that the team was deflated and the A’s had the slimmest of chances to come back and win the game. The A’s scored 0 more runs and Soria gave up another pair on a two-run homer — seriously, what is going on with this bullpen.
To make matters worse, news broke early in the game that Jharel Cotton, who the A’s hoped would return soon to boost the bullpen, will be shut down with a hamstring injury. Not only that but Anderson had to exit the game one out into the 6th inning. It’s still unclear what he injured or how serious it is. If it means anything, Anderson attempted to waive BoMel and the trainer off before they even left the dugout, so hopefully it’s just BoMel being overly cautious.
It was not a great Saturday for the A’s. With another two losses to the division leaders, who have nearly half their lineup on the IL, the climb back to the top of the AL West is looking less and less like a feasible project. At least we have the wild ca— wait, Texas has the second wild card? Someone get me a drink.