After a decisive 7-0 win against the White Sox last night, the A’s decided to reverse the roles tonight, as the team was ever so nearly shut out by the South Siders tonight in what looked to be a painful 3-0 loss.
The A’s received and wasted opportunities all night, leaving runner after runner in scoring position. It seemed like a dozen times tonight — there were, in fact, 13 runners left on base — that the A’s had a chance to seize the game by its horns and ride it into the sunset for a guaranteed series win. Unfortunately, the lineup was unable to capitalize and ultimately wasted a great second start from Tanner Roark.
At no point was this issue exhibited more clearly than in the top of the 9th, when the A’s were given the breakiest of all breaks. Following two consecutive strikeouts to start the inning, Marcus Semien and Chad Pinder each ended up in scoring position after a single and a double, respectively. With two outs already on the board, it seemed inevitable that the A’s would, as they’d done all night, waste this opportunity and throw the game away. And that’s exactly what they would’ve done had White Sox third baseman Ryan Goins not missed the Matt Chapman grounder that was hit directly at him. As a result of the error, the ball went all the way down the left field line, both Semien and Pinder scored, and the A’s now had the tying run in scoring position.
Two walks later — one intentional, the other not — the bases were loaded and Khris Davis was coming up to bat. The feeling, however, was different this time as the momentum no longer belonged to the Sox. The A’s got the break they needed and all that was required of them was to stop failing, to get a RBI hit (or walk). Instead, White Sox closer Alex Colome struck Davis out and ended the game at 3-2. What a tease.
But at least not everything about this game was forgettable. After looking a little uncomfortable in his first start as an Athletic, Roark seemed locked in tonight, wielding command of all 17 of his different pitches — okay, maybe not 17 — and mixing them effectively against an admittedly unintimidating White Sox lineup. The result: 6.2 innings, 6 hits allowed, 7 strikeouts, no walks, 2 earned runs. And, oh yeah, a loss. But undeserved, that loss was. This is exactly the kind of outing the A’s expected when they traded for Roark: not wholly dominant, but a little more than enough to win. It’s also what they wanted when they got Fiers and Bailey. So far, all three have mostly lived up to the bill and keeping this consistency going will be key to getting the team back to the Wild Card game.
Unfortunately, it didn’t go the A’s way tonight. The pitching was there but the lineup fell asleep every moment the team needed them most and we gave up another winnable game to a Chicago team. The A’s will look to even up their Chicago trip tomorrow and get the series win in the South Side.