By Jason Wojciechowski on July 27, 2011 at 7:30 PM
The A's didn't exactly jump out on David Price, but they did score before very long, pushing a run across in the third on a sac fly by Jemile Weeks. Matt Joyce had time to line up the throw to get Scott Sizemore, but the peg was well up the third base line and Sizemore sprinted across the plate with ease.
In the fourth, a walk and a bloop single put runners on the corners again, this time for David DeJesus, who hit the ball deep the other way. Desmond Jennings made the throw to second, but Conor Jackson just beat it. Price walked Scott Sizemore to put two men on but ended the trouble with a Kurt Suzuki whiff.
In the fifth, a single and a bunt put Cliff Pennington on second. With two out, Hideki Matsui destroyed a hanging slider, putting it on the base of the wall in right-center for a double.
Oakland got one more against Price in the sixth when Scott Sizemore grounded to Sean Rodriguez, who had to double clutch as he lost his grip on the ball, allowing Sizemore to reach. With two out, Cliff Pennington rip a hard liner over Desmond Jennings in left, one-hopping the wall for a double, scoring Sizemore ahead of the throw, which was off-line.
Through all of this, Brandon McCarthy was holding Tampa to a strict one-baserunner-per-inning allowance, facing four batters in the first, second, fourth, fifth, and sixth innings. He set down the side in order in the seventh and faced five hitters in the third. The eighth inning, when the Rays got their only run, didn't even present trouble to McCarthy so much as it presented a batting-practice fastball to Ben Zobrist, who obliged with a homer down the right-field line.
Two outs later, the A's were batting, and a single-walk-double sequence (with an out in between) put them up 6-1 and sat Andrew Bailey down in the bullpen. Grant Balfour f-bombed his way around a Matt Joyce double in the ninth and the A's fans went home happy.
One change to the box -- I've decided that the wRAA figure is boring and doesn't actually provide enough information at a glance relative to the annoyance I have to calculate it. (It's a minor annoyance in Google Docs, but still.) I think on a single-game basis, as long as you know what actually happened, it's pretty easy to compare two batting lines and see who did better. Thus, I've changed the third cell to "Description" which will just have the basics, and not in sequence: "BB, 1B, SB", it might say, and you should not take that to mean that the steal came after the single.
And if you think I'm going to note RBI or runs scored, you haven't been reading this blog very long.
|Sizemore (3B)||4||3||BBx3, ROE|
|Pennington (SS)||4||4||BB, 1Bx2, 2B|
Jemile Weeks laid down a sacrifice bunt in the fifth, which annoyed me, because not only is the strategy silly in general, you've got a batter who needs all the reps he can get against major league pitching so that he's ready to be a prime-time player when the games count. (In 2015.)
Weeks also scalded a line drive in the eighth right to Matt Joyce, but he's as impassive a player as the A's have had since the heyday of Ben Grieve. Completely expressionless on this play in a situation where you'll at least see many players crack a grin, clap their hands once, do a jumping twirl to turn around at first and go back to the dugout, something. Not Weeks.
That the A's scored four runs against David Price with their top two hitters in the order going 0-10 is pretty impressive. Crisp also had a hot line drive, his coming in the first inning. Desmond Jennings ran it down, though. Crisp's reaction to the ball off the bat was weird -- it was like he thought he'd hit the ball 10 degrees more upward than he did and was thinking he had a shot at a homer.
Hideki Matsui's double on a hanging slider was exactly what you can hope for from him these days -- if the pitcher makes a mistake on a breaking pitch, he can still hammer it.
Of course, I basically just said "Hideki Matsui is a AAA player."
Josh Willingham, (Two of the) Three True Outcomes star, walked twice and whiffed twice. Both walks came on 3-2 counts, the second after Price had him 0-2. Willingham didn't exactly have to battle, though, as Price missed with four straight pitches, none of them striking me as particularly close or particularly tempting for Willingham. (Granted that sometimes Sir Pork seems to think that everything is particularly tempting.)
Conor Jackson placed a ground-ball perfectly between the diving Casey Kotchman and Ben Zobrist ("the diving" applies to both players) in the second, blooped a fastball to right-center in the fourth, and hit a medium liner to left in the eighth. This was, in short, a model for the narrow differences between a 1-4 game and a 3-4 game.
David DeJesus hit just one fly ball in the game, but he hit it deep and he hit it with a man on third with fewer than two out, so he sure timed it up right.
I'm calling the ball that Sean Rodriguez double-clutched in the sixth, described above, an error, because had he made a clean transfer, Sizemore would have been out easily. Rodriguez played the ball on a tough hop, but I don't think this is the same as a player diving for a ball only to see it tip off the end of his glove. I'd expect a major league shortstop to make the play.
Anyway, that's Rodriguez. Sizemore walked on five pitches in the third, taking a close 3-1 fastball as the deciding pitch, on seven in the fourth after fouling off a 2-2 fastball at the knees, and on four from Jay Buentes in the eighth, none of which were close.
A three-walk day, by the way, won't by itself put Sizemore in my pantheon, but repeating the feat a few more times sure will make me remember him fondly when he's gone.
Kurt Suzuki's double came on a belt-high fastball that he lined into the alley the other way. It was very pretty, and, like Matsui, basically represented his upside as a hitter.
Cliff Pennington! These weren't Conor Jackson shots that Pennington was hitting, either: his singles were both line drives, one of them on a pretty solid 0-2 fastball from David Price, and his double, as mentioned above, was a shot over Desmond Jennings's head. It also came on 0-2, though the pitch was terrible -- the credit to Pennington on this one goes for fouling off two pitches before getting the fat fastball to rip.
Pennington's walk, like so many in this one, came on four not-close pitches.
Jemile Weeks and Cliff Pennington almost pulled off one of those awesome "flip to the other infielder to make the throw because the guy who caught it is on the ground or running away from the play" plays, but Weeks's flip out of the glove to Pennington led the shortstop too far and the ball dropped to the dirt, giving Matt Joyce a single.
Matt Joyce stole two bases on Kurt Suzuki. That's not great. A good throw probably would have made the out either time, but Suzuki bobbled the ball the first time and never made a throw, and bounced it into second the second time, resulting in a tag applied a split-second too late.
Brandon McCarthy pitched a very nice game despite pitching from the stretch in every inning but one and despite getting all of his swinging strikes in the first two innings and despite getting, similarly, all of his strikeouts in the first two innings.
Event sequencing is what really happened here, as McCarthy, as they say, scattered his base-runners. This isn't known to be a skill of pitchers, and McCarthy hasn't been doing this all year in such a way that might suggest that he's special, but we shouldn't take away from what he did anyway, because the A's won by five, so Tampa would have needed to plate a goodly percentage of their scant baserunners in order to take the contest.
Grant Balfour should feel no shame in giving up a hard line drive double to Matt Joyce, because he's a good player, and, if you want to believe in mystical concepts like the zone or being on fire, Joyce was in those places and beset by those things last night.
This one was easy. I've already expressed my displeasure with having/letting Jemile Weeks lay down a sacrifice when the team was already up 2-0, with a runner on first and no out, but you can understand a manager's desire to squeeze out one more run against a tough opposing pitcher, with a pretty solid hurler of your own waiting on the bench to take his turn. (What you can't necessarily understand is how in 2011, said manager thinks this is a valid way to think about baseball. The comfort I am suggesting we take is not so much about Bob Melvin being smart but about Melvin being conventional enough that he's unlikely to do much harm.)