By Jason Wojciechowski on May 15, 2011 at 8:30 PM
I have not written a game recap in quite some number of days, but I have been watching the games. For form and posterity's sake, then, some abbreviated recaps of the games I've missed.
Brett Anderson doesn't get smacked around so often, but the Rangers made it count in this one, knocking three homers en route to seven runs in the first five innings. The A's offense being what it is, and Colby Lewis being what he is (a halfway decent pitcher, I mean), the A's were doomed after the top of the fifth, down five runs. Of course, that's not really fair to the A's -- baseball being what it is, the A's were doomed. Per the win probabilities on Fangraphs, just 3.7% of teams have come back to win given the situation the A's were facing.
Box & Notes
nice to see him roping a double on a hanging changeup (?) over the head of David Murphy in center.
Conor Jackson got lucky on his bloop single in the first, getting jammed by a fastball but managing to dump it into center anyway. He made up for that luck by stealing second on a 1-2 curveball with Josh Willingham at the plate. Willingham couldn't bring him around to score, unfortunately.
The A's don't hit enough homers for me not to mention them, even when they come in 11-2 losses and aren't particularly notable for either depth or just-got-out-ness, so: Josh Willingham and Kurt Suzuki homered to very similar parts of the ballpark, over the scoreboard in left, in the second and fourth innings. Suzuki's was more of a long line-drive, while Willingham's looked like a classic fly-ball home run.
Suzuki's home run actually was notable for one thing: Colby Lewis looked like he actually started hanging his head about how awful his hanging curve was before Suzuki even swung the bat. That was probably my mind playing tricks on me, but I'd swear it's what I saw.
Colby Lewis worked Kevin Kouzmanoff like a heavy bag. First at-bat: fastball outer half (whiff), then inner half (whiff), then up and in, then away (whiff). Second at-bat: change inside corner (strike); slider low and away (taken); fastball up (whiff); fastball inside corner (strike). Third at-bat: slider at the knees (foul); slider at the knees on the outside corner (foul); fb at the knees on the outside corner (whiff).
In the first two trips, Lewis changed Kouzmanoff's eye level and worked him in and out. In the third at-bat, he just put three pitches where Kouzmanoff couldn't really do anything with them and took advantage of The Caveman's lack of contact ability.
It's no wonder Ryan Sweeney hit for Kouzmanoff in the ninth inning of an 11-2 game.
On the flip side, Kouzmanoff made a sweet play on the very first batter of the game, falling to his right to knock down a low, hard-hit, one-hop grounder from Ian Kinsler, getting up, picking up the ball, and rifling an accurate throw across to first.
Speaking of the ninth inning of an 11-2 game, Andy LaRoche came awfully close to a homer in his last at-bat, lining a double off the top of the scoreboard in left. It's not just ballgames where inches matter -- it's for personal stats, too!
Because he added a single to a ball hit not significantly different from Kurt Suzuki's homer, LaRoche is the Offensive Player of the Game despite not being one of the two guys to knock the ball out of the ballpark.2
LaRoche has played significantly more third base (2500+ innings) than second (shy of 100 innings) in his major league career, and it showed on a play in the first frame. With Elvis Andrus on base after a walk, Michael Young hit a chopper to LaRoche, who charged and made the play. Andrus stopped between first and second, leaving LaRoche with a choice -- he could either chase Andrus back to first and apply the tag, and thus very likely not achieve a double play, or he could throw to second to get the force and possibly give Cliff Pennington a shot at Michael Young. Instead, he made neither play and threw to first, letting Andrus reach second. It was precisely the wrong play, and it's possible it hurt the A's as Adrian Beltre's double scored Andrus from second without question -- might Michael Young have not scored from first on the same ball? (Ignore the fallacy, if you would.)
LaRoche also biffed a ball in the ninth that the official scorer ruled a single for David Murphy. It was a grounder that pulled LaRoche a few steps to his left -- he went to his knees, but the ball went off his glove. It wasn't an easy play, by any means, and I am agnostic on the question of whether it was fairly called an error or a hit. It was, on the other hand, a play we've seen Mark Ellis make a billion times over the years.
Daric Barton nearly lost the A's another pickoff in the third inning, when Brett Anderson got Mike Napoli going. Barton's throw didn't stay inside the bag, where it should have, but it somehow whizzed over Napoli to Pennington for the tag.
It's bordering on the obvious to say, when you can see Brett Anderson's pitching line above, that he wasn't sharp. Four walks and a hit batter, three homers, and just three whiffs? That's not stellar.
Weirdly, all three of Anderson's strikeouts came in the second inning, which went: BB, K, BB, K, K. I'd love to tell you that the key was getting a first-pitch strike, but I'd be lying: Anderson started each of the five batters in that inning with a ball.
Jerry Blevins has an ugly line, but he got a groundout by Michael Young, a shoulda-been groundout by Adrian Beltre, and a strikeout of Nelson Cruz in the first three batters. That would have been the inning except that Cliff Pennington threw away Beltre's grounder, looking all too casual on the play. Blevins followed this up with a walk, then got another grounder from David Murphy. Unfortunately, this was the Adam LaRoche ball I mentioned above, so yet another should-have-been was turned into a hit. Even the two RBI hits given up to Yorvit Torrealba and Julio Borbon weren't free of bad luck -- Torrealba's double down the line was just fair, and Borbo's single was a soft one over short, not a well-struck liner.
I've decided to start leaving out WPA for a whole variety of reasons that I don't necessarily need to get into. Suffice it to say that I don't think it added any value to these posts, and it's information that's easily available from other sources. ↩
Standings: (5) Crisp; (4) Barton, Ellis; (3) Jackson, Suzuki, Willingham; (2) Pennington; (1) DeJesus, LaRoche, Matsui. ↩
I include home runs in "BIP", because my goal with this particular number is not to indicate whether the defense made plays it should have but whether the pitcher got batters to hit the ball on the ground. Obviously, if a batter hits a home run, the pitcher has failed to keep the ball on the ground. ↩