By Jason Wojciechowski on June 1, 2011 at 12:45 AM
Another day, another shitty performance. I think Ray Fosse and my Twitter brethren are making too big a deal out of the A's losing to the Yankees and what it all means. They've had bad games against bad teams (11-1 loss to Minnesota on May 19th) and good games against good teams (5-0 win over Boston on April 19th). Baseball is too variable from game to game to draw conclusions from two contests.
This isn't to say that I think everything is rosy, obviously. The team is 27-29, in last place in a mediocre AL West (though that mediocrity also means that the A's aren't so far out of first place), and has the same offensive problems that have plagued the squad for what seems like an eternity (i.e. the decade since Jason Giambi left). This isn't a good team, but it is a good enough team, probably, to win 84 games and sneak into the playoffs. It's not out of reach for Oakland to go 57-48 from here on out, regardless of how bad the Yankee offense just blew up the team's two best starters.
Anyway, there's not much to write about in a 10-3 loss, but here go the
Box & Notes
Coco Crisp did a Coco Crisp thing: hit one really exciting triple. Coco Crisp also did four Coco Crisp things: make outs. Reaching baes less than 30% of the time just isn't getting it done.
David DeJesus had a pretty awesome game, so it'd have been nice if Brett Anderson hadn't picked this particular night to be so uncharacteristically shitty. A homer (though he was outclassed by Robinson Cano's deep drive to right), a four-pitch walk, and a soft-serve-single to shallow right center all add up to what you see in the box score above.
I'm not sure what Conor Jackson is for if he's not going to hit at least a little. He made one horrible throw to the plate that allowed Mark Teixeira to score while Alex Rodriguez was in a run down and he fell down while spinning to make a throw to second on a ground ball. That's right, he just fell over. Daric Barton's arm has been shaky this year, especially as compared to the remarkable things he did with it last season, but I've never seen him do what Jackson did tonight.
Josh Willingham whiffs a lot. This isn't news. (He did come about two feet from a homer in the eighth against Luis Ayala, meaningless as that would've been.)
Mark Ellis lined a nice double to left, completely earned, but his other hit was a grounder sort of up the middle that Derek Jeter did a patented Ole! job on. Every other shortstop that I see with any regularity would have grabbed that ball, set his feet, and made a strong throw. Jeter barely got over in time to tip the ball with his glove as it rolled into center. It's kind of remarkable how little range he has to his left. It never ceases to amaze.
I should take away all of Kouzmanoff's wRAA for his horrendous third-inning baserunning. He hit a little soft liner down the left-field line, the ball landing right on the chalk, and jogged to first, presumably knowing that Brett Gardner, a very speedy man, is the Yankee left fielder and would be all over the ball quickly. As he reached first, however, he apparently decided that he could take second. I have no idea why. I'm not sure he'd know why now if you asked him. That's how inexplicable it was. Gardner, of course, threw Kouzmanoff out by probably 15 feet.
Andy LaRoche continues to be really shaky with the hands in the field, and surely does not have the range to play short, but it's hard to say no to that batting line. The triple was, as most triples not hit by guys like Crisp, Gardner, and Peter Bourjos are, really a double that was kicked around by the right-fielder. LaRoche hit a long fly over the head of Nick Swisher, who was playing shallow, the ball took a weirdly high hop off the wall, came down back on the other side of Swisher again, and, on top of all that, had some kind of English on it that caused it to hop away from the former Athletic.
Unfortunately, for all LaRoche's success with nobody on base, his bases loaded at-bat in the fourth, resulting in an inning-ending first-pitch groundout, is really what sticks in the mind and the craw.
Just like with Trevor Cahill, the ground-ball story says a lot about Brett Anderson's day. I also thought he relied too heavily on his breaking pitches, often throwing them multiple times in a single at-bat. Even accounting for Anderson's spectrum of breaking pitches that he can put in a variety of locations, letting major league batters start to get a hang of a pitch's spin and speed is probably a bad idea.
Unfortunately for the A's, Brad Ziegler came in to the game with the bases loaded, so that one batter in the 2/3 who didn't make an out? That was Alex Rodriguez, who knocked a ground ball single sharply into center.
Ziegler was the victim of Conor Jackson's LOLfense described above, as he struck out Robinson Cano with a slider, leading to Rodriguez being picked off first and getting hung up, allowing Mark Teixeira to come charging home.
I could really get used to Joey Devine's high-octane bullpen stylings. He sometimes doesn't seem to know very well where the pitch is going, but he seems pretty good at making explosive things happen with a baseball.