So Fridays have been fun, right? Tonight especially. I mean, the A's had two hits, but one was a home run by Ryon Healy. That's a run, right? Also, the A's had five walks. That's something else, right?
So the A's had two hits tonight. Two. Which, coincidentally, is the number of innings that Raul Alcantara pitched before being pulled from this game. Seven hits and five earned runs later, to be exact. The A's were also issued five walks, which, coincidentally is the number of innings that relief pitcher Zach Neal pitched. And unlike his predecessor, he was perfect. No, perfect. He pitched five perfect innings. But of course, since the game started out 5-0 before the third, and the A's had two hits, things weren't promising. Marcus Semien hit a double in the second and Ryon Healy homered in the sixth. Aside from the walks, that was the extent of the scoring. And the offense. And everything else in this last weekend of the baseball season.
In other news, the A's have released the 2017 Spring Training schedule.
In all seriousness, I want to thank you all for hanging in there with us during an admittedly long and bad season of baseball. Here's to an exciting postseason and we can hope for better things in 2017. I hope everyone has a wonderful off-season.
LET'S GO OAK-LAND!
The Oakland A’s have started letting some of the kids play, and that means a lot of firsts by players we’ve been following for years in the minors. On Thursday, Chad Pinder finally connected on his first MLB home run, which is exciting because it’s one step closer to my autographed 2014 AN Day Stockton Name Tag being worth something.
Now that a handful of the new guys have gone yard, let’s take a moment to enjoy it. Here’s a rundown of a few firsts, and what small bit of info we might glean from each.
Date: July 16
Pitcher: R.A. Dickey (Tor)
Plate appearance: 5th
It didn’t take Healy long to get on the board in the bigs. In just his second game for Oakland, he went deep against a former Cy Young winner, which is almost certainly how he’ll describe it to his kids rather than saying it was off a 41-year-old knuckleballer. It was also his first MLB hit!
Both home runs were incredibly satisfying for their own reasons. Obviously, it’s great to see Davis hit the milestone we’ve all been rooting for for weeks now - one less thing for him to stress about the last few days of the season. And for Semien, it was nice to see a home run, period. Our shortstop has worked himself to the bone this season and seems to be losing steam, so it’s nice to see one more blast for old time’s sake.
So this was a game that highlights the team’s challenges and strengths for the future: A rotation with a great deal of potential, but also a lot of volatility (which hopefully will not feature Ross Detwiler next season). An offense that is decent (thanks largely to Our Savior Ryon Healy), but could do more. And woefully bad defense...with no real upside until Barreto/Chapman make it, barring some offseason acquisitions.
We’ve got one final series against the Mariners for the final 4 days of the season. Let’s hope someone on the team can Cotton on to spoiler duties.
Sonny Gray is back from the dead DL!
Sonny Gray has been activated from the Disabled List and is making his first start since...August 6th? That can't be right, it feels like much longer. Maybe it's just because it's been so long since we've seen the real Sonny Gray and not his meatball-throwing doppelgänger. Per Susan Slusser, it'll probably just be 1 inning before we get treated to The Zach Neal Show. Regardless, even in the painful denouement of this tragic season, this is a game that shouldn't be missed.
Oh, and check out tonight's lineup - it's pretty dank:
|OAKLAND A'S||LOS ANGELES ANGELS|
|Joey Wendle - 2B||Kole Calhoun - RF|
|Stephen Vogt - DH||Mike Trout - DH|
|Ryon Healy - 3B||C.J. Cron - 1B|
|Khris Davis - LF||Jefry Marte - LF|
|Yonder Alonso - 1B||Andrelton Simmons - SS|
|Danny Valencia - RF||Jett Bandy - C|
|Marcus Semien - SS||Gregorio Petit - 2B|
|Bruce Maxwell - C||Kaleb Cowart - 3B|
|Jake Smolinski - CF||Shane Robinson - CF|
|Sonny Gray - RHP||Alex Meyer - RHP|
Game time is 7:05 PT. Go A's!
In a lot of ways, today's game highly resembled a spring training game. The A's had a pair of rotation hopefuls pitch short multi-inning stints, and rookies, determined fringe players, and guys playing out of position were spread out on the field behind them. The game never really felt competitive, not for long anyways, and there was a stronger emphasis on "getting reps and experience" rather than playing tough, hard-fought baseball. There were various mistakes on the field on both sides, some resulting in errors but some slipping through those arbitrary definitions, but most all of them resulting in runs.
But while spring is a time for unbridled joy and boundless hopes and expectations about the year to come, tonight's game spelled for, at best, nihilistic apathy, though more typically resulted in hapless frustration. Poor performances that, in spring, could be attributed to finding a sense of rhythm or going through growing pains now just reflect the worst patterns and behaviors that have plagued and hindered the team all season. The comforting thought of having an entire season to work out the kinks replaced by the empty realization that the team never had a chance and was out of time, naught but the cold, dark winter lying ahead.
Mengden was one of the most improbable and inspiring stories on the A's this season, possessing the competitive drive and work ethic that any team would want their athlete's to have. Moving up multiple levels in one season without missing a beat isn't something that most ballplayers can do, and Mengden never backed down from any challenge his team put forth. But at this stage of the season he is tired, and his stuff doesn't bite, bulldog mentality or no. His struggles when reaching the third time in the batting order have been well documented here, but tonight he couldn't even make it through the order twice. With a flat fastball and just a fraction of the control he usually possesses, Mengden managed to hang around without much trouble for the first three innings, but in the fourth the wheels came off immediately. Mengden faced seven batters in the fourth inning, all of whom reached base and all of whom scored, the biggest blow of the inning coming on Jefry Marte's grand slam, before getting pulled in favor of Zach Neal.
Going up against Ricky Nolasco, who is having a good month but is also Ricky Nolasco, the A's scratched out one unearned run in eight innings. Ryon Healy was just fine, managing three hits in four at bats while also hitting a double, but the entire rest of the lineup was AWOL as usual, totaling three hits, all singles, and just two walks, with each of the baserunners so spread out the A's never had much of anything that would resemble a rally. This isn't new, the streakiness of the offense has been around all season, though it is discouraging to see this latest cold stretch dominated primarily by players who are competing for valuable roster spots next season.
Brett Eibner was particularly bad today, on both sides of the baseball.
Spring training 2017 can't get here soon enough, so long as today wasn't a preview of things to come.