Live Blogging: A’s @ Mariners Game 20
10:13PM PDT: 5-4-3 double play and the game is over. Terrible offensive performance – yet again as the A’s are shutout for the second consecutive night. I’ve commented before that I’d love to have Adam Kennedy on this club because I felt he was a good solid (and relatively cheap) option at third base. I still don’t disagree with that assessment as he has put up 0.5 WAR already in this very young 2011 season half a win more than Kouzmanoff (-0.2) and Andy LaRoche (0.2) combined. But Kennedy again topples his former club, with a good throw home to get Kouz (later replays made it appear as if Olivo did indeed apply the tag on time) and a 2-for-4 night. A’s hitting woes continue, two more dates with the M’s in Seattle to sort it all out, but ultimately Safeco Field is not the place you go to look for a rebirth on offense.
10:12PM PDT: Conor Jackson in to pinch-hit for Pennington. He represents the tying run.
10:09PM PDT: Ryan Sweeney walks to load the bases. Interesting to see Sweeney pinch-hitting – to put things in perspective Kouzmanoff for all his troubles did lead the A’s in home runs in 2010 but the lack of faith in him late in games has been apparent as he is continually pinch-hit for. So the winning run walks to the plate, Wright’s night is over with Brandon League coming in to lock it down.
10:06PM PDT: Mark Ellis with a single. Could something be starting here?
10:05PM PDT: Kurt Suzuki keeps things alive with single. Not a bad night for Kurt (2-for-3 with a walk). Scarily he is one of Oakland’s better hitters right now tied for second among regulars with a .310 wOBA.
9:59PM PDT: He only got two outs but Craig Breslow looked a lot better than what we have seen from him. Good outing – I think he’s finally ready, first few appearances he seemed to still be at a spring training working out kinks level.
9:44PM PDT: So Daric Barton throws it into left field on a fielder’s choice, and it goes pretty much straight to Josh Willingham. Jack Cust did not break for third, but Willingham again did that pirouette thing he did in Minnesota. What is with this stupid spin? Its like when you jam a finger incorrectly on a video game.
9:35PM PDT: So the walk of Pennington means after only one out, Pauley is out and Aaron Laffey is in. Does Eric Wedge not realize that it doesn’t matter who is on the mound against our offense as of late? We’ll take your biggest liability and making him look like an all-star.
9:29PM PDT: A’s finally get into the M’s bullpen as David Pauley takes the mound. What does Kouz promptly do? Swing on the first pitch and gets himself out. Pitchers can change but the results just stay the same.
9:24PM PDT: David Purcey into the game. Liked what we saw out of him in his debut on that rainy Wednesday against Boston.
9:14PM PDT: A’s sort of get to Michael Pineda (two hits with one out) yet fail to score leaving two more men on base… Where is it that I have heard this story before?
8:56PM PDT: Adam Kennedy nearly decapitates Blevins (don’t think that would have helped him with his control tonight) and drives in two runs. Blevins’ night is done. Brad Ziegler comes in. My point about this is what you have a longman for put him in still applies. M’s 4, A’s 0.
8:54PM PDT: Jerry Blevins comes in and walks two guys. Thats what nine pitches, only one of them a strike will do. The walk of Michael Saunders loaded the bases, the walk of Jack Cust drove in the second run to give the M’s (given the A’s offense a seemingly insurmountable) lead of 2-0.
8:47PM PDT: Another walk, his fourth, ends Tyson Ross‘ night. Happy birthday Tyson care of the A’s offense huh? He leaves after only four and a third innings and with a 1-0 deficit. The four walks to zero strikeouts were uninspiring and overall it wasn’t a very impressive outing. But to make matters worse now Bob Geren has decided to go to Jerry Blevins. This is not an indictment of Blevins, but rather, why do a piecemeal approach when you have over half the game left to sort out. Seems that this is a position tailor made for long man Bobby Cramer.
8:37PM PDT: Not the greatest baserunning? It looks like Kouzmanoff was safe there, but Adam Kennedy throws him out at home. Miguel Olivo looked like he didn’t get the high throw down before Kouz had his foot in.
8:36PM PDT: Pennington didn’t really hit the ball to the right side, but he chopped it enough that Kouzmanoff was able to get to third. Good baserunning.
8:21PM PDT: The A’s offense is again lifeless, DOA. Michael Pineda‘s line so far is four innings of work, allowing two hits, two walks and striking out five.
7:59PM PDT: Ross up to 35 pitches (15 strikes, 20 balls) and has been getting himself into trouble allowing a hit to Adam Kennedy and walk to Ryan Langerhans. Finally comes back to bite him when Jack Wilson singles one beneath the glove of Cliff Pennington into left field. M’s lead 1-0. For what was billed as a pitching duel between two young starters coming in, thus far it hasn’t looked so great Pineda is already up to 45 pitches in his two innings of work, and meanwhile Ross can’t find the strike zone.
7:41PM PDT: Kevin Kouzmanoff is Pineda’s fourth strikeout victim through eight batters now. Not a solid at-bat by Kouzmanoff. His leash seems as if its length is unlimited – it shouldn’t be.
7:34PM PDT: Interesting thing Glen Kuiper mentioned regarding batting averages. He commented that there are presently six teams in the American League with batting averages under .240. The comment was made as a part of a larger statement on the difficulty of hitting in cold weather. The six teams are the A’s (.237), Red Sox (.237), Orioles (.235), Twins (.233), Rays (.232) and Mariners (.224). Aside from the Rays they are all “colder weather” teams, I suppose. But it’s been freezing in Chicago (.254), and Cleveland tied for the AL-lead at .269 certainly isn’t warm in April, so it doesn’t seem to be the strongest of connections but could explain at least part of it.
7:20PM PDT: Ray Fosse has made the point several times regarding the spin of the ball and seeing if things are going to go foul or not. I am sure this is much easier from the box or from home than it is if you are the player (and I think Fosse too would agree with that assessment) but on that play I thought Ross got him. It was frankly a poor play by Barton that allowed Ichiro Suzuki to get to first. While the ball may have been going foul, Ross had him beat.
7:17PM PDT: Pineda strikes out Daric Barton and Josh Willingham. That makes it an even 25 strikeouts on the year tying him with Ryan Raburn of the Detroit Tigers for the Major League lead. His K% is slightly down – which is good – but still stands at an unexceptionally high 38.1%.
6:55PM PDT: Tyson Ross is on the mound for the A’s tonight making his first start of the year in place of the injured Dallas Braden. Ross has appeared in five innings of work thus far this year, with a 3.60 ERA and 3.01 FIP and has six strikeouts to only four walks. Last year as a starter (only two starts) his FIP was 3.34, while his FIP as a reliever (a role he was admittedly uncomfortable with) was 4.53. The biggest difference really was in his K and BB rates, as a starter throwing 8.2 K/9 (compared to 7.1 K/9 as a reliever) and only allowing 1.2 BB/9 in his starts (compared to 5.4 as a reliever). He faces Michael Pineda who has opened his career with three straight quality starts (one of only two M’s pitchers to do so). Hopefully the A’s bats can crack Pineda’s code and get some runs. All the starters are in the lineup, and Bob Geren realizes the lineup is struggling. Yet I found his strategy for breaking out of the slump perplexing, Susan Slusser reported on the A’s Drumbeat that Geren,
“mentioned that some A’s hitters might be looking to swing earlier in the count and be more aggressive in general. So keep an eye on that tonight – first-pitch swinging might not be the norm, but we could be seeing some of the extra-patient hitters swinging once they get ahead in the count. Geren also discussed the possibility of using the hit-and-run more often, maybe some 3-0 green lights, bunting for base hits, more steals – it sounds like nothing is off the table.”
That sort of thing doesn’t sound like the recipe to success for me. I think we need to wear pitchers down more by getting deeper into counts. A 3-0 green light might be good for some hitters who are very good but right now a lot of our guys are just hacking. So we will see.