The Oakland A’s lost again on Tuesday. It was by more than one run this time! But it still felt a lot like every other game this month, as everything the A’s did fell just short while everything the opponent did was maximized by uncannily perfect sequencing.
The final score turned out to be 7-4 in favor of the San Diego Padres, but it may as well have been any pair of numbers these days. When you’re in a slump, nothing seems to work.
*** Click here to revisit tonight’s Game Thread! ***
None of that is to say the A’s should have won this game. They got beat, by another good team. But on a day when they pounded out the majority of the game’s hard contact, and piled up 11 hits including five for extra-bases, you’ll excuse me for suggesting this could easily have gone better with even a minuscule amount of luck.
At first it looked like Oakland might finally get a couple hops their way. In the 3rd inning, pitcher James Kaprielian (batting in the NL park) drilled his first career hit, and his teammates proceeded to load the bases behind him. Matt Olson’s 392-foot drive fell for “only” a sac fly, then Jed Lowrie singled home a second run, and Sean Murphy dropped a flare down the RF line for a fortunate RBI.
hit and run and score— Oakland A's (@Athletics) July 28, 2021
and hit and run and score
and hit and run and score#RallyBuds | @budweiserusa pic.twitter.com/HxfiJy1oup
They loaded the bases and then cashed in! And the final RBI was pure luck! Sure, Olson came tantalizingly short of a grand slam, but the rally still worked out better than some we’ve seen lately.
Then the good feelings ended.
On the mound, Kaprielian cruised the first time through the order, allowing just one hit. But with two outs in the 3rd inning, Adam Frazier (in his Padres debut after being acquired Sunday) doinked a lucky infield single, and then Fernando Tatis Jr hit an 800-foot homer for two runs. That was a legit moonshot by one of the best hitters in the sport, but the dinger didn’t need to come immediately after the luckiest hit of the night. Could’ve just been a solo shot, like each of Olson’s last 11 homers!
Oakland almost got one of the runs back. In the top of the 5th they got a runner to third base and Lowrie hit a 99-mph smash to the right side, but it was snared for a loud out to strand the runner.
Kaprielian kept cruising into the 5th, as nobody except Tatis could hit him. But then the Padres blooped another lucky hit to lead off the inning, and Kaprielian got a bit wild at that point, which is something he typically does once every start but usually works through. He nearly escaped again! But not quite. Jake Cronenworth hit exactly the ball Lowrie had hit in the top half but his went through for two runs. Could’ve been a double play! But it wasn’t, and Kaprielian was chased from the game.
With the inning still going, Yusmeiro Petit came in for relief but served up a three-run dinger to Manny Machado. Welp.
In the 7th, Tony Kemp hit a homer to right just kidding it landed literally one foot short for a double off the top of the wall and then he was stranded. In the 2nd, 5th, and 7th innings they hit a double and stranded the runner (twice the double led off the frame and it still didn’t matter). In the 1st and 4th they reached first base but grounded into double plays.
Naturally, in the 8th they finally hit a homer, but with nobody on base. Solo job for Sean Murphy, too little too late.
Murph got all of this ball pic.twitter.com/MQv8QBo8OE— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) July 28, 2021
The A’s finished with 11 hits and one walk, with five of their hits for extra-bases, and three hits with runners in scoring position. The Padres finished with 12 hits and two walks, only three for extra-bases, and the same three hits with RISP. But San Diego’s all came bunched together in two big innings, while the A’s managed to scatter theirs around evenly in a bunch of scoreless frames.
Just keep swimming
Listen, you can think what you want. If you look at these games and conclude that the A’s aren’t good enough to win, then fine, you do you.
But the A’s hit the crap out of the ball today, and Kaprielian was good against everyone on the Padres except for the guy who’s arguably the best player in the majors right now, which is a blemish I can live with. If you want to believe the A’s are a worse team because their hits aren’t aligning into rallies this month, then go for it. If you want to freak out because the opponent’s homers were preceded by a bunch of dopey BABIP singles, then fine.
I’ll be over here waiting for this to pass and the talent to rise back to the top, like it usually does over a six-month marathon. That doesn’t mean I’m enjoying it. These games are awful to watch, and even worse to write up. But if you keep pitching like this and hitting like this and fielding like this, you’re gonna get back to winning games. Keep the fAith, and ride the wave.
O Kaptain! My Kaptain!— Oakland A's (@Athletics) July 28, 2021
Congrats on your first MLB hit, @JamesKaprielian pic.twitter.com/XEdOIXHtAM