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Posts Tagged ‘Oakland A’s’

Brandon Workman, ladies and gentlemen! He was so close! He was so close; he had the no-hitter in the bag.  Except for the fact that he had about a third of the game to go, and he just couldn’t hold onto it.  And anytime you see a pitcher, especially someone who doesn’t get regular starting time, take a no-no bid deep and then lose it, it’s crushing.  It’s always crushing.  Six innings is a really long time to not allow any hits.  But in the end, we just couldn’t hold on.

We first scored in the sixth.  Ellsbury, Nava, and Pedroia hit back-to-back-to-back singles that resulted in one run.  Carp led off the seventh with a double and scored on a single by Holt.

Meanwhile, Brandon Workman was six innings into a no-hitter bid.  It was huge.  His walk in the fourth was the only thing not making it a bid for a perfect game.  He was solid gold for six full innings.  It was amazing.  When Buchholz pitched his no-no, he was a young kid new to the big show too.  It was an amazing thing to watch.  He faced the minimum through six and just plowed right through the A’s like they had never played a game of baseball before.  They just couldn’t figure him out.

And then Coco Crisp, of all people, singled on the fifth pitch of the seventh.  It was crushing.  Taking a no-hitter bid into the seventh is really exceptional, but they say that no-hitter bids can be won or lost in the seventh.  I guess the A’s had seen enough of Workman to figure him out, but it was a shame.  He looked like he had their number the entire time; there was no situation in which he was not in complete control of the ballgame.  And then one single changed that completely.

One out later, he gave up a two-run home run that tied the game, and Breslow came in.  Neither team scored in the eighth, or the ninth or tenth, which Uehara pitched.  We had the bases loaded in the eleventh with two out thanks to two walks and a hit batsman, but Holt struck out looking.

Matt Thornton came in for the bottom of the eleventh, and he didn’t do a bad job.  It’s just that the eleventh inning with a tie game is not exactly the greatest time to make a mistake.  And make a mistake he did.  He issued a walk, and two outs later, he issued another walk, and then two pitches later, he gave up an RBI single.

So the final score was 3-2.  We put up a good fight, but I just can’t believe we had the bases loaded the very inning in which we lost the game and did nothing with that opportunity.

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Make no mistake, folks.  We did not just play the Oakland A’s.  We played the Green Sox.  I know I’ve said this before, but every once in a while I just wonder at how true it is.  Every so often, we notice that there’s a particular team that absorbs several guys who used to play for us.  There was a time in the recent past when the Dodgers could be thought of as the Blue Sox.  The A’s now fit that bill.

This was kind of a quiet one.  No big heroics.  No extra-inning comebacks.  Just grinding through.  We seem to be doing a lot of that lately.

We scored first and put the A’s in an early two-run hole.  Napoli singled and moved to second on a throwing error.  Nava got hit.  Salty’s flyout put both runners in scoring position.  Iglesias flied out.  And both runners scored on Holt’s single; the associated throwing error was a nice touch.

Unfortunately, there weren’t that many scoring chances after that, and the ones we did have weren’t maximized.  Which is unfortunate because Lackey, who sailed pretty smoothly through four, allowed the A’s to score in the fifth and tie it in the sixth.  First he gave up a run thanks to a single-double combination.  Then he gave up a leadoff solo shot to, of all people, Jed Lowrie.

The rest of the time, as usual of late Lackey was fantastic.  He was weaving right through the batting order with no major trouble at all.  Those two runs were the only ones he relinquished, 

He left the game honored with the win.  We put it away in the eighth inning.  Iglesias singled, two outs later Victorino got hit, and both scored on a single by Pedroia.  Bailey pitched the eighth, Uehara pitched the ninth, and the final score was 4-2.

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Lester had one of his worst starts this year.  He only lasted five and two-thirds innings, and he gave up three runs on six hits while walking six and striking out only five.  This start pushed his ERA over 2.00; it’s now 2.27.

Lester gave up two walks and a single in the first.  He gave up another walk in the second.  He had a one-two-three third.  He gave up two singles and a home run in the fourth; that put us down by three.  He gave up another walk in the fifth.  He gave up a double, walk, and single while recording two strikeouts.  And then he was replaced by Tazawa, who recorded the final out of the sixth.

Objectively speaking, Lester’s start really wasn’t that bad.  He made one mistake, which resulted in the three-run home run.  Other than that, he was just very inefficient and didn’t have his usual control or command.  He had substantial trouble finding the strike zone, and his walks reduced his efficiency.  So that’s how stellar a pitcher he is.  There are pitchers out there whose best day doesn’t even come close to Lester’s start last night.

Tazawa secured the first two outs of the seventh and allowed a double followed by a single, which scored a run.  Miller then came in, finished the seventh.  Uehara came out for the eighth and gave up a solo shot before getting through the rest of the frame with flying colors.  Bailey had a fantastic ninth; three up, three down, all via the swinging strikeout.

The A’s scored in three innings: three runs in the fourth, one in the seventh, and one in the eighth.  We only scored in two innings, and we barely scored enough to compensate for the runs allowed by the relief corps.  But the fact is that we got through it, so we picked up the win.  Still, as long as the relief corps gives up runs late in the game, I will continue to make note of the fact that no good can come of it, win or no win.

Before and after the fourth and fifth, we had no scoring opportunities or rallies to speak of.  But those were some great innings.  It began modestly enough with a groundout by Pedroia.  Then Papi and Napoli hit back-to-back doubles that resulted in our first run.  Gomes walked but was out at second thanks to a force by Middlebrooks that still put runners at the corners.  In the end, it didn’t matter where anyone was standing; Drew hit a bases-clearing triple.  The frame ended with a strikeout by Ross.

Ellsbury led off the fifth with a single, stole second, and scored on a double by Victorino.  Pedroia singled, and runners were again at the corners; Victorino scored on a single by Papi.  After a pitching change, Napoli got hit to load the bases.  Nava came in to pinch-hit for Gomes and singled in Pedroia.  Then we went down in order.

Half of our ten hits were for extra bases.  Pedroia went two for five, Papi went two for four, and Nava was a perfect two for two.  Papi played an essential role in our rallies; it’s so good to have him back.  We also had two walks to our credit en route to a 6-5 win.

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It’s bad enough to allow your opposition to score runs.  It’s bad enough to allow your opposition to score a lot of runs.  It’s even worse to allow your opposition to score a lot of runs while you yourself score absolutely no runs.  But one of the worst scenarios is when you allow your opposition to score a lot of runs while you yourself score absolutely no runs because the opposing pitcher is someone who used to pitch for you and is somehow having a great day.

There are various teams in the majors that tend to absorb our players when we allow them to walk or when we trade them away.  Oakland has apparently become one of those teams.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Green Sox.

Bartolo Colon held us to zero runs.  Meanwhile, Aceves lasted less than four innings; he recorded the first run in the fourth and was taken out in favor of Steven Wright, but both should share in the blame. Aceves had a one-two-three first.  It was his first good inning.  He gave up a single and a walk in the second but didn’t give up any runs.  It was his last good inning.  Then he imploded.

Aceves issued a four-pitch walk to open the third.  He gave up a single to Coco Crisp and another walk to load the bases.  He then walked in the first run of the game; it would be the first of six that inning alone.  Yes, walking in a run was embarrassing but, in the grand scheme of how the game turned out, not nearly as embarrassing as how it would end.  Aceves finally recorded the inning’s first out but then gave up a single that scored two.  Then he balked, which put two runners in scoring position; a sac fly scored one, and a single by Josh Reddick scored the other and put him at second thanks to a throwing error by Aceves himself.  Then he balked again, which moved Reddick to third, and he scored on a throwing error.  The inning finally ended with a groundout.

Crisp grounded out to open the fourth, and then Aceves went right back to it.  He gave up a double and then a home run.  Then Jed Lowrie singled, and Wright came in, ending the inning on a double play.

Wright didn’t let any of his inherited runners score.  He just put his own runners on base and let them score.  He gave up a single to lead off the fifth, struck out Reddick, and issued two consecutive walks.  He then gave up a double to Crisp, which scored two, followed by a single, which scored two.  Then there was a passed ball, a fielder’s choice, and finally a flyout.

Wright issued two consecutive walks yet again to begin the sixth.  He gave up a double to Reddick that scored one and then send the A’s down in order.  Wright gave up two singles in the seventh but didn’t allow any runs.

And that’s as far as we got.  Rain prevented the playing of the game’s last two innings.  I at least would have wanted to see the contest through, but perhaps we’ll be able to draw on the extra rest to win a sorely needed contest at some point.  Baseball works in mysterious ways sometimes, but the outcome of this one, at least, was decisive.  We lost, thirteen-zip.  We had three hits and only one walk; we were 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position and left four on base.  Pedroia, Salty, and Gomes were the ones who singled; nobody hit anything for extra bases.  Ellsbury was the one who walked.  Aceves took the loss.

In other news, the Flyers beat the Bruins, 5-2.

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Since our miniature spree, if you could even call it that, which I really don’t think you can, we added one more name to the list: Drew.  The other Drew.  We signed Stephen to a one-year deal worth $9.5 million.

His numbers last year were not that great.  He batted .223 with a .309 on-base percentage and hit seven home runs while batting in twenty-eight.  He only played in seventy-nine games; he broke his right ankle in 2011 and had all sorts of issues with it throughout last season.  He started the year in Arizona and ended it in Oakland, where he had an optimistic finish.  He’s an okay fielder; his fielding percentage last year was in the neighborhood of .970.  That’s lower than I’d like for a shortstop, which, as we all know, is probably the most challenging infield position defensively.

This means that Jose Iglesias won’t be our starting shortstop for next year, at least, in case you were wondering.

In other news, the 49ers beat the Pats, 41-34.

I’ll be taking a break for about a week and a half.  Hopefully we’ll have gotten some good, solid things going in that time.

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Finally! Okay, now we’re in business.  I don’t want to necessarily say that the news is big news; I think a year or two ago it would have been really big news, but players age year to year, and last year’s phenom is this year’s solid, all-around acquisition who’s good but doesn’t necessarily have that wow factor anymore.  But given our needs and our situation, I’d say Ben’s moves during and after the Winter Meetings were good and much-needed ones.  He’s putting together a stable team while maintaining a healthy amount of financial flexibility, and John Farrell is happy with the developments.  All in all, I’d say we’re definitely going in a great direction.

Anyway, let’s get down to it.  We’ve signed Mike Napoli to a three-year contract worth thirty-nine million dollars.  Don’t let last season’s aggregate stats fool you.  He batted .227 with twenty-four home runs and fifty-six RBIs with an on-base percentage of .343, but look at his numbers in his new home: .307 batting average, nine home runs, twenty RBIs, and a 1.14 OBP.  Admittedly, the sample size of seventy-five at-bats is small, but numbers aside, he’s known for pulling the ball, and his swing will thrive in Fenway.  As for defense, he’s a catcher by trade, but don’t expect to see him behind the plate.  He’ll probably end up at first.

Our next name is Shane Victorino, the Flyin’ Hawaiian.  It’s another three-year, thirty-nine-million-dollar deal.  Last year, he batted .255 with eleven homers, fifty-five RBIs, and a .321 OBP.  Don’t forget that he bats switch, though, and while he batted .229 as a leftie, he batted .320 as a rightie.  But he had vastly more at-bats from the left than the right, so again, the sample size must be considered.  Still, versatility has never been frowned upon in our organization.  As for defense, like Napoli, Victorino will not field in familiar territory.  All trade rumors concerning Ellsbury are patently false, and Victorino will not be playing center.  He’ll be playing right for sure.  And it’ll be a welcome relief.  Fenway’s right field can break any veteran, but Shane has the stuff to handle it.  He has three Gold Gloves and a center fielder’s speed and arm, and that combination in right, once he learns the fatal angles out there, will be formidable.  It’ll be nice breathing easy with a steady patrol out there.

It’s worth noting that Ben and John met in person with Josh Hamilton, but don’t get too excited.  We already have Ellsbury, and Hamilton wants either Texas or a long-term deal, neither of which we will provide.

And we signed Ryan Dempster to a two-year deal worth $26.5 million.  Granted, he has spent almost all of his time in the National League aside from a few handfuls of games last season, which he started for Texas.  But his ERA was 3.38 last season, and his WHIP was 1.20; not too shabby.  Just as important, if not more important, to why we were interested in him in the first place is the fact that, before last season, his last for seasons totaled at least two hundred innings, and last season he clocked 173 innings which isn’t too far behind.  That means three things: durability, durability, durability.  On the other hand, durability doesn’t mean much unless you’re good, and his brief stint in the American League didn’t go well at all, so I’m concerned as to how he’ll make out in the AL East, which, as we all know, is the toughest division there is, basically.  So I’d say we can approach this one with cautious expectations.  But at least we got some sort of starting pitcher, which is a step in the right direction.  We also added Koji Uehara, who signed a one-year deal.  In thirty-six innings last year, he posted a 1.75 ERA and an 0.64 WHIP.  That means good late-inning work for us.

We finished the Zach Stewart trade by acquiring Kyle Kaminska from the Pirates and assigned him to the PawSox.  We also claimed Sandy Rosario from the A’s, and he has since been claimed by the Cubs.  Gary DiSarcina, formerly the Angels’ minor league field coordinator, is now the PawSox manager.

So we had gaps and voids, we identified them, and we set about filling them with solid, stable choices who will fit in both on the field and in the clubhouse.  We now have some powerful hitters and defenders in the lineup whose numbers admittedly were not great last year but who stand, given the right circumstances, to do great things, and we have some great additions to the clubhouse as well.  We also have a starter who’s spent hardly any time in the AL and whose time he did spend in the AL was nothing to write home about but who has considerable potential.  We still have a lot of work to do; we need more and better starting pitching, for one thing.  That’s a big one.  But slowly but surely we’re getting it done.  We don’t need to make the world’s biggest splash to put a team together that can go the distance.

In other news, the Pats beat the Dophins, 23-16, and the Texans, 42-14.

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Honestly, it doesn’t get much more infuriating than that.  I’m just going to jump right in because it’s really tough to deal with it all.

Cook pitched decently.  He only lasted five innings, and he gave up three runs on seven hits while walking none and striking out two.  He went one-two-three in the first and second, and gave up a double in the third.  He gave up a solo shot to lead off the fourth followed by a single and then a two-run home run.  Following  two quick outs, he gave up a single, and then a fielding error put another runner on, but the inning ended there.  He allowed a single in the fifth and a double to lead off the sixth, at which point he was replaced by Hill, who was replaced by Aceves after three batters.

Meanwhile, we reduced our deficit from three runs to two; in the bottom of the fourth, Pedroia doubled with one out and scored on a single by Loney.

Aceves came out for the seventh and gave up a single followed by a two-run home run of his own, which made the score 5-1.  Two outs later, he gave up a double and was replaced by Carpenter, who ended the inning.  In the bottom of the seventh, we made another dent in the score.  Ross began the inning by striking out, but then Salty and Nava hit back-to-back doubles.  The Yanks sent out their third pitcher of the inning, and then Salty scored on a groundout by Gomez and Nava scored on a double by Aviles.  5-3.

Carpenter handled the eighth without incident baseball-wise but with incident drama-wise; when Bobby V. came out to the mound and Aceves saw Carpenter coming in, he walked to the other side of the mound to avoid Bobby V. when he left the field.  In terms of the bottom of the inning, we failed to score.  But it was not without further drama.

Ross ended the inning on a called strike; the at-bat featured seven pitches, all but one of them sliders, and the count had been full.  Ross and everyone else who had a pair of decently functioning eyes could see that that last supposed strike was actually a ball because it was low, and he let home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez know it immediately. So Marquez rejected him; it was only the second rejection in Ross’s career.  Several minutes later, Bobby V., who had separated Ross and Marquez, went back out there to have a talk with him that obviously got heated pretty quickly and was ejected for the sixth time this year, which sets the record for the most single-season ejections by any manager we’ve ever had in our long, illustrious history.  And at some point even third base coach Jerry Royster was ejected for some reason, so bench coach Tim Bogar was managing and coaching third at the same time at the end of it all.  The whole situation was just absurd and could have been neatly avoided had Marquez just done his job and saw reality.

Anyway, Miller and Padilla teamed up to shut out the Yanks in the top of the ninth, and the stage was set for another possible walkoff.  Salty’s leadoff at-bat was exactly the kind of at-bat you hope for most in those situations.  The count was full and he got an eighty-three mile-per-hour slide as his sixth pitch.  He’s a big guy, and he unleashed his formidable power on it and sent it out of the park to right field for a solo shot that only he could have powered out of the park.  We were now one run away with nobody out, and between Salty having made it look so easy and our last-minute heroics of the previous night, we were daring to believe that we could potentially pull it off again.

But we didn’t.  Nava flied out, Gomez grounded out, and Aviles reached on a fielding error.  Ellsbury could have put the whole thing away right then and there.  But he grounded out instead.

So we lost, 5-4.  But no one can say we didn’t put up a fight.  Because we did, both literally and figuratively.  We manufactured our own runs and pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps in the face of a deficit and dared to call a ball, a ball.  We just kept going at it all night long, but we came up just short in the end.  It’s just so infuriating.  I mean, I have to think that we’ve lost this way to plenty of other teams this year since clearly we’re in the business of losing every way to every other team this year, but to do it against the Yankees is particularly brutal.  We were almost there; we just needed one more run to tie it, and we could take care of them in extras.  And we couldn’t get it done.  It’s the story of our 2012 baseball lives.

On a more cheerful note, we have next year’s schedule, so assuming that we’re optimistic, it’s a reminder of something to look forward to.  The season starts for us on April 1 in the Bronx; we follow Opening Day with a day off and then conclude the three-game series.  We then head off to Toronto for three games, and then we head home for our home opener against Baltimore, which is followed by another day off.  We then finish our series with Baltimore and play the Rays before spending three games in Cleveland and going back home to face the Royals, A’s, and newly-AL Astros.  Then we have a day off and we go back to Toronto and then to Arlington, our first full series of May.  The Twins and Jays comprise another homestand, followed by a day off and another road trip against the Rays, Twins, and Other Sox.  Then back home we’ve got the Tribe and the Phillies, followed by a series at Philadelphia and then the Bronx, followed by a day off.  That takes us to June, our first full series of which is at home against the Rangers and then the Angels.  Then we head off to Toronto and Baltimore before another day off and coming home to face the Rays.  Then we head off to Detriot before another day off and another homestand featuring the Rockies, the Jays, a day off, and the Padres in July.  Then it’s off to the West Coast for the Angels, Mariners, and A’s before the All-Star break.  When play resumes, we host the Yanks and Rays before a trip to Baltimore and a day off.  The west then comes to us as we host the Mariners and D-Backs at home, which brings us to August.  We then travel to Houston and Kansas City before taking a day off and traveling to Toronto.  We host the Yanks at home after that, followed by a trip to San Francisco, a day off, a trip to Los Angeles for the Blue Sox, another day off, and then a homestand featuring the Orioles, Other Sox, and Tigers, which brings us to September.  We go to the Bronx after that, take a day off, go to Tampa Bay, and return home for the Yanks, a day off, the Orioles, the Jays, and another day off.  Then we go to Colorado for two games, take a day off, and go to Baltimore for the last series of the season.  So we’ve got at least three days off every month except one: May, our most packed month, when we only have one day off.  But it’s a good schedule.  It’s interesting that Interleague is sort of spread out this year instead of being clustered in June.  It’s often a tough schedule, and we have to play some worthy opponents, but if all goes according to plan, we’ll be able to hold our own next year.

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