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An SB Nation blog for Oakland Athletics fans



Updated: 2018-04-22T19:30:02-07:00

 



Sean Manaea’s no-no was pure domination

2018-04-22T19:30:02-07:00

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A truly dominant performance against a truly great offense.

We’ve seen a number of no-hitters and perfect games over the past few years and the truth is, they’re not always all that impressive. Most involve a fair amount of luck and a miracle defensive play or two, and the line between a no-hitter and a merely good outing can be rather small. Plus, most of them aren’t thrown by someone as charming as Sean Manaea.

That wasn’t the case last night. Sean Manaea had complete control over the Boston Red Sox from start to finish, giving up little meaningful hard contact and never finding himself with more than a single runner on base. He withstood a few defensive miscues and with the help of some good umpiring fortune found himself entrenched in the annals baseball history.

Manaea’s domination

-In the game, the Red Sox hit only four balls far enough for an outfielder to get involved. By my count, the Red Sox hit exactly two balls which required an outfielder to back up. There wasn’t a single time where an A’s outfielder broke into a full sprint and there was no real risk of extra bases.

Getting the ball deep into the outfield is a strong proxy for hitting the ball well - clearly the Red Sox didn’t do that, this wasn’t a fluke no-hitter. It gets better - of the four balls hit to the outfield, three of them were hit the other way. Balls in the air to the opposite field yield a batting average of just .277 and a slugging percentage that pales in comparison to balls pulled. Even when the Sox were able to get under the ball, Manaea ensured they traveled in a harmless direction.

-Personally, I have some Statcast fatigue. Baseball players hit the ball hard, they hit it high, we get it. But this is actually pretty telling

Congrats to Manaea on an amazing achievement! In the words of former A’s Vice President Stanley Burrell, “U Can’t Touch This.”

(image) Box score via ESPN



Game Thread #21: A’s vs. Red Sox

2018-04-21T17:45:02-07:00

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Time to start a new winning streak!

Lineups:

Today's Lineups

BOSTON RED SOX OAKLAND A'S
Mookie Betts - RF Marcus Semien - SS
Andrew Benintendi - LF Stephen Piscotty - RF
Hanley Ramirez - 1B Jed Lowrie - 2B
J.D. Martinez - DH Khris Davis - DH
Eduardo Nunez - 2B Matt Chapman - 3B
Rafael Devers - 3B Matt Olson - 1B
Sandy Leon - C Mark Canha - CF
Jackie Bradley - CF Chad Pinder - LF
Tzu-Wei Lin - SS Jonathan Lucroy - C
Chris Sale - LHP Sean Manaea - LHP



Eyeball Scout Has Kendall Graveman’s Back

2018-04-21T10:32:10-07:00

No doubt, for 4 starts Kendall Graveman was bad and his 9.87 ERA told the tale. Last night, however, was the bounce back start we’ve waiting for — one that ultimately saw Graveman’s ERA rise to 10.07. It has already been dissected how Graveman’s line (5+IP, 6ER) was largely the result of fluky or seeing-eye singles, and Emilio Pagan needing just one pitch to allow 3 inherited runners to score. Graveman arguably threw only one bad pitch all night, the HR by Jackie Bradley Jr. which followed a single by Raphael Devers that looked like he was hitting out of a sand trap and a chopper off the plate that managed to bounce over Matt Chapman’s head instead of starting a 5-4-3 DP. Then in the 6th, a nice piece of hitting by Andrew Benintendi to serve a ball the other way was sandwiched in between two ground balls randomly placed to the hole — had the latter one, of the bat of Hanley Ramirez, been a few feet to either side it’s the key DP for which Graveman was searching. Was Graveman victimized by being too dependent on luck? That is definitely an issue for sinker ball pitchers and their reliance on batted balls, but last night Graveman was far from a “pitch to contact” pitcher, striking out 6 in his 5+ IP. However, the Eyeball Scout is about the pitches that make up the pitcher and so this post is not just a rant about poor luck or a generalized notion that Graveman threw better than his line would suggest. Here is what the Eyeball Scout saw last night which corroborated the claim that Graveman turned a corner: - With his simplified windup (no arms over the head), Graveman’s delivery appeared to be more repeatable than it has been his first 4 starts. Not only did Graveman throw 54 of his 92 pitches for strikes, he was consistently able to locate his sinker right at the knees, often nailing the “black” on the outside corner to LHs. This was evidenced in the fact that Graveman did not record a single fly ball out (unfortunately his one bad pitch was hit in the air and into the bleachers). Overall, Graveman had a much better idea of where his pitches were going. - The running action on Graveman’s sinker was truly impressive. Probably the best eyeball example was a sinker down and in that Eduardo Nuñez swung and missed to strike out ending the top of the 4th. When you see hitters swinging over the sinker that’s a good sign; when you see them tied up and confused — see Christian Vasquez’ strikeout in the top of the 5th — that’s a great sign. - I continue to like Graveman’s changeup, which apparently he sharpened up after talking with Trevor Cahill between starts. Last night it was extremely solid, deceptive and down in the zone and able to get swings-and-misses or weak contact. While I am no fan of his breaking pitch, an offering I feel should be limited to “stealing a strike” in a fastball count, I do think Graveman’s changeup has the potential to be a semi-regular part of his arsenal. Graveman was so good last night, even in the 6th inning, that I thought at 92 pitches the best move when he loaded the bases with nobody out would have been to leave him in. He was getting ground balls and strikeouts and had confused Mitch Moreland in each previous at bat, and the A’s did not have a lefty up to neutralize Moreland. (I would say in that spot, go to Buchter or leave Graveman in.) Of course undoubtedly Moreland still would have hit a grand slam because Moreland-at-the-Coliseum, but I did not even think Graveman was showing signs of being ‘out of gas’ — just maybe out of luck. In any event, while they do not count ‘moral victories’ in the standings or on the stat sheet, to my eyes Graveman pitched at least at the level where you would reasonably expect a line of 6 IP, 2 ER and somehow everything conspired to make the line look a whole lot worse. But come out with this exact stuff next time and I expect Graveman will finally have a start in which even the stat line agrees he was excellent. Which he was last night. [...]



Game #20: A’s Fall to Red Sox 7-3

2018-04-20T22:39:08-07:00

But let me tell you a little story about a man named Jed Tonight’s subtitle is brought to you by Dallas Braden, who had quite a few funny one-liners tonight, including the Jed line after Jed’s first hit tonight (spoiler alert: He’d have many more hits, and he’d quite literally be the only shining moment in another dark Friday night.) Read the Game Thread. Or don’t. Indulge me. Let’s open baseballgirl’s email from 2:25PM and 2:26PM today, shall we? Nico, who was on the exchange, can offer veracity: baseballgirl: How will the A’s crush their 4-game win streak for me tonight? An early blow-out? A late bullpen meltdown? A heartbreaking extra-innings loss? A blown 6-run lead? STAY TUNED TO FIND OUT! OaktownPower: I will say a nice mellow 7-3 loss. I guess mellow is a stretch; there was nothing mellow about the three-run home run that hasn’t landed yet, nor the first pitch from the bullpen that was launched for a grand slam, but the rest is on the nose. And eerily prescient look at the game long before the first pitch. There are not many more frustrating things in baseball than to watch your team scratch and claw, show some pluck and grit, and with blood, sweat and tears, drag three runs across the plate, kicking and screaming to open the game, only to watch the other team hit two annoying barely-singles, followed by their signature monster home run to tie the game and erase all of the previous hard work. Such was the tale for the bottom of the first/top of the second for the A’s and Kendall Graveman, as the A’s were one batter away from knocking Drew Pomeranz out of the game in the first and instead, they let him pitch for just about three more innings, including a strike-out-the-side moment in the third. Meanwhile, the A’s’ early 3-run lead was gone faster than they built it. Don’t get me wrong; Kendall Graveman’s 10+ ERA doesn’t exactly scream, “I’ve been unlucky!”, but he was tonight. He should have pitched the first five, giving up a solo home run; keep in mind, at one point tonight he retired 11 in a row, striking out six to Pomeranz’ seven. I don’t know what should have happened in the sixth. Here’s what did. Graveman started the sixth with three more obnoxious singles; the ones that had a 50/50 shot at being hit at an infielder, or just squeaking by, to load the bases with no one out. At some point, I guess you let Graveman clean up his own mess; he was pitching pretty well and the balls were just not finding the fielders. Instead, Emilio Pagan threw exactly one pitch out of the bullpen and it was crushed for a grand slam, giving Boston the 7 unanswered runs, and the A’s the loss. The A’s started the game with a beautiful first inning; the exact inning you want against a Drew Pomeranz. src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/0SmyATAYsNs?rel=0&" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> They were patient; working two walks, racking up pitches left and right, fouling off the right pitches, and they nearly scored six runs as they made Pomeranz throw 45 pitches. With one out, Piscotty walked and was doubled in by Jed “Could I BE any hotter?” Lowrie. After Khris “Home run or Strike Out, except when I hit into a really inconvenient double-play” Davis struck out, Matt Chapman also K’d, but he had the presence of mind to run to first as the ball merrily skipped away behind home. Matt Olson singled in the A’s second run, and in a pretty amazing at-bat, Mark Canha singled in the third. Chad Pinder came within an eyelash of a three-run home run, but a review was called foul (and it was), and he would eventually strike out, as well. Unfortunately, Canha had stolen second base during Pinder’s at-bat, so even just a single would have give the A’s two more runs. The A’s would have to settle for three. Time of game 0.45. Innings completed? One. Things escalated quickly in the second as the [...]