This was a wild game that falls into all the same trips of recent A’s games: long slugfests that ultimately result in losses. The Angels have won three against us in less than a week like that. 11-9. 10-8. And now 8-7. Our starting pitching has faltered terribly for over a month now, so our bullpen has been overworked and crappy. I’m not sure what the solution is, but these games where we give up just enough to lose are seriously harshing my vibe. And geez, if we’re gonna lose, can we do it in less than 4 hours?
The first couple of innings were beguilingly fast. The only baserunner was Mike Trout, who was hit by a pitch and stole second before ultimately being stranded. Garrett Richards shut down the side on 5 pitches in his first inning in the last five months (of course), but both sides went down quietly in the 2nd.
3rd: Graveman’s Semi-Unraveling
A four-pitch walk to the Angels’s #8 hitter led into a perfect hit-and-run to put runners on the corners with nobody out. A soft single landed just fair to drive in a run, then Mike Trout walked (again, on four pitches) to load the bases, still with no outs. I would say it all happened quickly, but...it didn’t, as I’ll explain below. Graveman then gave up ANOTHER walk (at least this time with a couple strikes) to make it 2-0. Albert Pujols hit a shallow sac fly to make it 3-0, then a “wild pitch” (actually a passed ball by Maxwell) put runners at second and third, still with only one out. Mercifully, though, a groundball and a strikeout bailed the A’s out, stemming the damage at 3 runs.
One thing I want to emphasize about this inning is how SLOW it was. Maxwell came out to the mound at least four times, a habit he’s shown a proclivity for that I (and I suspect Rob Manfred, which puts me in unfortunate company) hate. Every pitch took ages. Every sign was flashed twice. Albert Pujols hit a ball off his own foot and was ready to go again before Maxwell. I suspect Bruce Maxwell has single-handedly increased the average length of games across all of MLB by a couple of minutes this year.
The A’s got something of their own going in the bottom of the inning. Matt Chapman led off with a “walk” (on what was really a perfect strike three by Richards), then easily took third base after Boog Powell singled up the middle. Corners with one out - but a couple of groundballs shut it down pretty quick. At least Matt Chapman knows what to do in a run-down?
The A’s got another chance in the 4th. Lowrie led off with a double - #42 of the year, 2nd in AL. Khris Davis singled to put runners on the corners again. This time though, Chad Pinder hit a booming double to left field to drive in one run, and drive Garrett Richards out of the game. But Blake Wood came in and effortlessly struck out Maxwell and Chapman to limit the A’s to 1/3 of a comeback.
5th: Triplet Homers
But it isn’t all good news. The top of the 5th wasn’t clean for Graveman - Brandon Phillips singled and then Mike Trout followed up with a forceout. Trout stole his second base of the night, then Justin Upton singled just over Semien’s head and it looked like Trout with all his speed would score for sure. But Matt Joyce made an absolutely perfect throw and Maxwell applied a great tag, managing to cut Trout off just inches from home plate. The A’s weren’t out of the woods yet though, and Pujols was able to come through, driving in Upton from second to make it 4-1.
But oh boy did the A’s respond in the bottom of the inning. Matt Joyce homered, a wall-scraper to right field to make it 4-2. Jed Lowrie singled, then Khris Davis came through with a booming home run to center field - just like that, tie game 4-4. It was Khrush’s 38th home run of the year. And then Matt Olson homered to center field! Why not! Olson has quite the impressive numbers of his own - it was his seventh home run in the last eight games. He has 15 in 42 games. 5-4 Oakland.
6th-9th: Blur of Relievers, Runs
Sam Moll got the first out of the inning, then got pulled after walking Luis Valbuena. In came Liam Hendriks, and out went the ball off the bat of CJ Cron - out over the left field wall, giving the Angels back the lead 6-5. That’s 19 HRs given up by the A’s in the last 7 games. As hot as our offense has been, it can’t keep pace with our bullpen.
Troy Scribner was still pitching for Anaheim after getting the last out of the 5th. Chapman walked, Powell walked, then Semien singled (advancing to second) to put it back even at 6-6. Deolis Guerra came in, walked Lowrie to load the bases, and was promptly replaced by Noe Ramirez. A strikeout and a groundout limited the gain to just 1. I realize how rote this is, but Mike Scioscia is mind poison. Even when the A’s score, it’s just interminable with that guy.
Hatcher impressively took down the middle of the Angels order in the 7th, then Fernando Salas had a clean bottom of the frame.
In the 8th, Coulombe got a chance. He got two outs, then yielded a walk to Luis Valbuena on a veeeeeery close pitch. CJ Cron tripled down the right field line - Chad Pinder misplayed the ball in the corner, letting it roll around and giving the runner ample time to score and put the Angels back up 7-6.
But then the Angels bullpen, already on their...6th (?) pitcher, faltered as well. Boog Powell pretty much perfectly duplicated Cron’s hit from the top of the inning, but Powell’s insistence on watching the ball instead of looking to third base coach Steve Scarsone meant he stumbled rounding second, costing himself an easy third bag. Fortunately, the A’s executed some good small ball - Marcus Semien laid down a great bunt to move Powell to third, then Matt Joyce hit a fly ball plenty deep to score him. Tie game yet again, 7-7.
Each team got a baserunner in the 9th, but could do nothing. For the A’s, it hurt a lot more though - Khris Davis walked to lead off the inning, but Oakland could not find pie in 9.
To Extras We Go
We went to Blake Treinen in the top of the 10th. Despite throwing 34 pitches yesterday, there weren’t a lot of better options. He got two outs and things looked good, but then disaster struck - Kaleb Cowart was hit by a pitch, then CJ Cron did damage yet again with a single. Ben Revere stepped into the batters box as a pinch hitter and it was pretty much felt like GG, given how he has hit us this year - and sure enough, he hit a single to left field that would have been caught by Joyce if it had gone even one inch further. Joyce got a good jump and dove for the ball, but he just couldn’t quite catch the ball, and the Angels went up 8-7.
To their credit, the A’s made things interesting in the bottom of the 10th. Matt Chapman singled with one out, then with two outs so did Marcus Semien to put runners at the corners. Matt Joyce took a walk and the bases were loaded for Jed Lowrie. Lowrie worked the count full but ultimately couldn’t get the job done - he flew out to center field, and that was that.
We play the Angels for the last time this season tomorrow at 12:35. Can we PLEASE win against them? I want to remember what it feels like.