By Jason Wojciechowski on April 7, 2015 at 9:56 PM
Rangers 3, A's 1
LP: Jesse Hahn (6 IP, 3 R, 9 H+HBP, 3 K)
Standings: Tied for last in the AL West, 0.5 behind Houston
Well that was annoying. Jesse Hahn pitched fine, but not great, mostly throwing strikes, though missing fairly badly when he did miss, and the Rangers got their runs without, for the most part, a bunch of big blasts. A bloop here, a Craig Gentry screwup in right field there and suddenly Texas has enough runs for A's-killer Colby Lewis (seriously, what the hell) to do all he needs.
Brett Lawrie was absolutely miserable. I assume it's happened once or twice in the past, but I'm pretty sure I've never seen four strikeouts on twelve pitches before, especially not to an actual hitter. Lewis and Keone Kela and Neftali Feliz threw him breaking pitch after breaking pitch and Lawrie just looked flat-out helpless. Everyone has bad days and if Lawrie had this particular bad day on July 17th, we'd groan and make noise but it wouldn't be that big a deal. I'm trying to convince myself as much as I'm trying to convince you here.
The bullpen (Eric O'Flaherty, Jesse Chavez, Fernando Abad) looked nice, allowing two runners over the final three innings while striking out three (two by O'Flaherty). Chavez put Adrian Beltre on his ass in very Beltre fashion, whiffing hugely on a fastball up and in.
In the seventh, with the A's down two runs, Billy Butler led off with a sharp single up the middle, just out of the reach of Elvis Andrus. It was a very pretty hit. And, it seemed, it was a very obvious spot to pinch run with Billy Burns. The fleet outfielder has few other uses, and the Zobrist-Fuld-Gentry group doesn't need defensively replacing such that you should be saving Burns for that purpose, and the infield is similarly good enough that you're not going to put Burns in left to move Zobrist back into the infield in the late innings, and even if Zobrist isn't as good as Burns in the outfield (he's probably not), he's not someone I'd be willing to take out because of his bat and his flexibility. And you're not saving Burns for pinch-hitting because if he could hit better than anybody in the A's starting lineup, well, he'd already be in the A's starting lineup. So what's Burns's point? To pinch-run! And who more than anyone else on this team, and maybe more than anyone else in baseball, needs a pinch-runner? Billy Butler! And when more than any other time do you need that runner? Late in a close game with stolen and extra base possibilities!
So, yes, no, Burns did not pinch-run, which certainly wound up costing the A's a run because if he were on second instead of Butler when Stephen Vogt lined a single into right field later in the inning, he'd have scored and no two ways about it. Of course, the A's needed two, not one, but who knows from there? Who are we to look a gift run in the mouth? And when Burns's spot came up in the ninth, it's not ideal, but you've got Mark Canha on the bench, and that's not as bad as some teams would have it.
This is a very bloggy obsession for me to have, I admit, but I'm sticking with it. I only wish I could prove to you that I was yelling about Burns not pinch-running even before the Vogt hit. Because I was. You'll just have to take my word for it.
All that whining aside, we might be looking at a very different game had Marcus Semien not grounded into a bases-loaded double play on what would have been ball four in that seventh inning:
I liked Jesse Hahn's stuff.
If Sam Fuld's going to keep hitting triples, I'm going to feel real dumb about complaining that he's too high in the batting order.