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Spring Game #4: A’s drop wild one to Rockies

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Oakland’s NRI pitchers blow lead in late innings

Oakland Athletics v Colorado Rockies Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s lost their Cactus League game Wednesday, 10-7 to the Colorado Rockies, in a perfect example of why to not take spring training standings too seriously.

The A’s scored their seven runs on two hits within the first two innings, thanks to rusty Rockies defense. Then Colorado mounted a comeback against a collection of Oakland minor league pitchers, while the A’s refrained using the mercy rule that the Rockies did invoke once.

*** Click here to revisit today’s Game Thread! ***

There was no TV or audio feed, so just a quick box score recap.

Major leaguers score lots of runs

The A’s jumped all over Rockies starter Ryan Castellani, or rather he jumped all over them by pegging Elvis Andrus with the third pitch of the game. Chad Pinder walked, and Matt Olson doubled them both in, then later scored himself on a couple productive flyouts — including a Stephen Piscotty sac fly for the RBI.

The four-run rally in the 2nd inning was more of the unearned variety, with only one hit involved. It began with a walk to catcher Austin Allen, a positive sign after his first few spring at-bats didn’t go well. Pete Kozma followed with a smash for an RBI double, because apparently he’s Dan Uggla now.

Then an error in the outfield let a free runner on, and an RBI groundout brought home Kozma, and another batter got hit by a pitch. Buddy Reed and Chad Pinder pulled off a double-steal, and then another error at first base allowed both to score. One batter later, with a runner still on first and two out, the Rockies pulled the plug and called the inning.

Unfortunately, that was the end of Oakland’s offense for the day. They picked up a few more hits and walks, and reached scoring position in nearly every inning, but they never found the plate again.

As a bonus in the late innings, two top prospects each singled and then stole second base. They were shortstop Logan Davidson, No. 6 on our Community Prospect List; and catcher Kyle McCann, who is on the verge of joining the CPL in the early-20s range. Add it up, and that’s four steals for the A’s today, without being caught.

Minor leaguers allow lots of runs

As if this Rockies home game was being played in Coors Field, it turned out seven runs weren’t enough.

Starter Cole Irvin pitched well, finishing with two scoreless frames. He’s not currently in the top five on the rotation depth chart, but he’s probably not much further down the list, especially as a member of the 40-man roster. Per insider Martin Gallegos:

Cole Irvin says his goal is to make the A’s Opening Day roster. He realizes it’s going to be tough to make this starting rotation and would be thankful for any opportunity that comes his way. Showed off a nice four-pitch mix today and mixed speeds well against the Rockies.

But then the wheels fell off in the 3rd inning. Jordan Weems issued a walk and then allowed a two-run homer to Raimel Tapia, who was nearly a league-average MLB hitter last year. It was Weems’ second straight rough outing of the spring, though the right-hander’s 97 mph velocity was on full display.

The 4th inning went to Rule 5 draft pick Dany Jimenez, who operated around 91-95 mph on his fastball but threw mostly curveballs. He navigated around two walks to avoid damage, thanks to two swinging strikeouts on that breaking ball.

Next we got some answers on Domingo Acevedo, one of this year’s non-roster invitees. His velocity topped out at 95 mph and he operated around 92-94, which is still lower than it was at the peak of his Yankees prospect stock but perhaps not as modest as some of us feared in a worst-case scenario.

The Rockies weren’t fooled by Acevedo. The righty gave up a ton of hard contact on his secondary offerings, and a couple extra-base hits fueled another two-run frame. On the bright side, half his batted balls were grounders, and one of the flies was a “double to second base” which sounds like a lucky bloop.

The 6th inning was the knockout punch. Jeff Criswell took the mound, making his spring debut before ever even pitching in a regular season pro game, after being drafted last summer in the 2nd round. A pair of walks and a hit batsman loaded the bases with two outs, and a blistering line-drive single brought two home, but can you hold it against him given his lack of any experience beyond college? The right-hander worked in the 95-96 mph range with his heater, topping at 97 once, and also mixed in his slider.

Rather than using the mercy rule to bail out Criswell like the Rockies had in the 2nd, the A’s just changed pitchers to the next name on their scheduled list. NRI minor leaguer Argenis Angulo came in with two inherited runners and allowed a walk and a pair of weak singles, plating four more runs to give Colorado the lead.

Takeaways

Olson had another big hit, after homering once already this spring, and finished with a pair of triple-digit exit velocities. Chapman notched a hit as he eases back from hip surgery. Reed didn’t set off any fireworks but he did show hustle, reaching second on a missed-catch error and then stealing third.

Irvin looked as good as possible in his green-and-gold debut, a nice first impression as he works to establish his place on the rotation depth chart. Jimenez missed some bats, and of all the pitchers who allowed runs, Weems is the only one with a likely chance of appearing in Oakland this summer.

The A’s have Thursday off, and return Friday against the Angels, same bat time, around noon. Angels spring games are being televised locally, so keep an eye on MLB Network to see if the broadcast gets picked up for Bay Area viewers. Either way, the radio feed will definitely be available online for free on A’s Cast.