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Live Blogging: A’s @ Angels Game 23

April 25, 2011

9:28PM PDT: Jered Weaver goes to 6-0, lowers his ERA to 0.99 and collects his third shutout of his career. Ouch. But I do have to say this. This game in some ways was inspiring. The bullpen whom I have had less and less confidence in, performed very well. David Purcey is showing to be a good pickup, and Michael Wuertz‘ inning of work makes me feel confident that we aren’t forced into just throwing lefty after lefty out of the pen. Gio’s tough night had some bad breaks, but his control was solid, if anything the problem with his control was he was around the plate too much. Also Daric Barton got two hits stolen from him, so perhaps he is coming out of his slump though that won’t show up in the box score. So while it is hard to take away a lot of positives in a 5-0 loss, I feel that frankly we ran into a tough pitcher in Weaver who dominated, but we hung in there and improved the facets of our game that were most glaringly in need of improvement. Then again maybe I just have rose-tinted lenses.

9:21PM PDT: A’s have three outs with which to score five runs – seems unlikely. But never say never…

9:15PM PDT: Barton is calm enough to stay in the game. Jerry Blevins joins him on the field as he is in to pitch. This is Blevins’ ninth appearance of the year. Aside from Michael Wuertz‘ two appearances with an 18.0 K/9 Blevins leads the club coming in with a 10.1 K/9 mark, though it is accompanied by an ugly 7.9 BB/9 number as well. Blevins also holds the mark as the A’s least valuable pitcher as he comes in with -0.3 WAR. I initially said that I figured Blevins would be the first to go once Andrew Bailey came back, then I backed off that as he started the year with a few decent outings, I am not buying low on him again. He’s being shipped to Sacramento once Bailey is ready.

9:12PM PDT: So Daric Barton went 2-for-4 today though the box scores will all read 0-for-4. Can’t blame him for being mad, robbed twice in one game. That doesn’t happen often.

9:06PM PDT: Good 1-2-3 inning for Wuertz, far better than the laborious innings he had in both Stockton and Sacramento. Struck out Mathis and Bourjos – overall really sharp 14 pitches, 9 for strikes again in marked contrast to his rehab appearances.

9:03PM PDT: Glen Kuiper is talking about Mike Trout right now on the CSNCalifornia braodcast and his being an uber-prospect. I wonder if Angels folks fresh off the DFA of Brandon Wood want to think twice before labeling someone a surefire can’t miss star again?

9:00PM PDT: Michael Wuertz comes into the game fresh off his rehab assignment. Good game to bring him in, pretty low pressure. Turns out Geren wasn’t giving up on the game, or playing the numbers by inserting Sweeney – Willingham left with tightness in the left side of his upper back.

8:57PM PDT: Weaver gets out of the closest thing that could be called anything near a jam tonight so the Halos still hold a five to zip advantage over Oakland. Weaver’s pitch count is only at 88.

8:51PM PDT: Is the pinch-hitting of Josh Willingham by Ryan Sweeney a signal that Bob Geren has given up on this game? Or did he do it because Sweeney is 6-for-18 with two doubles and three walks against Weaver? Or is there something wrong with Willingham?

8:42PM PDT: So Gio Gonzalez‘ night is through as David Purcey and his size-17 shoes takes over. Sloppy game for Gio, 95 pitches in his five innings of work, allowed five runs (four earned), one walk to five strikeouts. Leaves with his ERA at 2.70 up from 1.80, makes sense the extreme gap between his ERA and FIP would even out a bit. But interestingly, given that this game was mostly on account of Angels base hits, his FIP ought to fall despite it being a poor outing.

8:36PM PDT: Pennington down swinging. That is nine strikeouts now for Weaver. He is putting on a clinic.

8:22PM PDT: Mark Ellis strikes out to end the inning and through five innings Weaver now is up to seven strikeouts. It is sort of funny that I said a key for Gio would be to limit the walks, in his four innnings he hasn’t walked anyone and has struck out five, problem is the eight hits he’s allowed.

8:14PM PDT: Jeff Mathis grounds into a double play but Erick Aybar scores. Angels lead swells to 5-0.

8:12PM PDT: Mark Trumbo shouldn’t be bunting Mike Scioscia. But Gio fielded that ball in a flailing sort of way so it is a bunt base hit. The A’s troubles continue in this inning. Gio just isn’t sharp at all. Kind of figured that the day you option your longman you have a starter who doesn’t seem like he is going to last too long.

8:11PM PDT: Howie Kendrick scores as Coco Crisp misplays a ball that took a short hop on him and rolled all the way to the wall off the bat of Erick Aybar. Halos 4, A’s 0. Messy game thus far.

8:03PM PDT: Barton K’d by Jered Weaver. That stings. Should be on second right now. Tough start Barton is off to.

8:01PM PDT: Bad call. Daric had an easy double there.

7:50PM PDT: Bobby Abreu doubles to left-center and Peter Bourjos man can he run, scores from first (easily!). Angels up 3-0 now. Gio Gonzalez doesn’t seem so hot today.

7:44PM PDT: Now on that play Coco Crisp was safe, but then slid off the bag where Erick Aybar astutely applied the tag to get him out. Why is this counted as a caught stealing? It seems if anything it should be a stolen base plus a “caught stealing” of third for failing to “advance” though inadvertent. I mean if this were a hit, and he slid and was safe then slid off, he’d still be credited with a double. Why is Jeff Mathis being credited with throwing out a runner that he didn’t throw out? All the credit for that play belongs with Aybar, none with Mathis.

7:33PM PDT: Another great play by Kurt Suzuki (his third already!?) as he gets to a pop up that Gio couldn’t reach and throws out Kendrick at second. I didn’t mention it but earlier on the Pennington error, Suzuki backing up first was nearly able to tag out Bourjos. Outstanding defense from Kurt tonight.

7:31PM PDT: Howie Kendrick with an opposite field single scores the aforementionEd Wells and Alberto Callaspo who doubled following his $1.67M single. Angels up 2-0.

7:29PM PDT: Vernon Wells gets a leadoff single off of Gio Gonzalez to start the bottom of the 2nd inning. This hit has reduced his cost per hit in 2011 to $1,665,178.56.

7:20PM PDT: Michael Wuertz was activated today – which was anticipated – and Bobby Cramer was optioned to Sacramento to make room for him. Good news for the A’s as this fixes a bit of the problem of too many left-handers in the bullpen, it goes from 5/2 to 4/3. Still a few more southpaws than I’d want. Cramer really wasn’t being used as long-man with the starters doing so well but he seems like a really good guy and you gotta feel for him when he is demoted right before going to play in Anaheim which is his neck-of-the-woods. In a great interview on Athletics Nation Cramer said this of pitching at Angel Stadium (where he was a former season-ticket holder in between stints in professional baseball)

“I said in an interview before, you grow up watching Major League games and if you’re lucky enough to live close to a stadium you get to watch them in person, and although if had made my Major League debut for the Royals and my first game was in Milwaukee, or not there but any one of those teams, it’s a big league stadium and it’s the Major Leagues but it’s not what you grew up knowing as the Major Leagues and for me Anaheim was the Major Leagues.

Getting to pitch in Anaheim Stadium, all those times as a kid growing up, going there and watching games live, that was the Major Leagues to me.  So although I pitched in three games before that and had been to a couple of stadiums, that was it for me.  That was kind of like, that made me feel like I had arrived and to have it be in the city where I grew up in with all my family and friends there, I might have only left twenty-five or thirty tickets for that game but my mom started getting the notepad and she started writing down all the names of the people she knew were there.”

7:16PM PDT: Kurt Suzuki shows off his arm with a great toss to pick up Cliff Pennington‘s error and get Peter Bourjos trying to steal second. Seems I may have been wrong on my comment re: DeJesus’ pitch being low.

7:11PM PDT: I think David DeJesus really got shafted on that low strike pitch to strike him out. But what is with Daric Barton swinging first pitch and grounding out so weakly?

6:56PM PDT: The Playstation Network is still down, with no end in sight, so frustratingly I must watch this on the small screen yet again. Five straight games now. Despite that, the match up ought to be a good one. Jered Weaver is pitching for the Halos, he has been outstanding thus far this season, and while baseball card stats people will be excited by his five wins in five starts, the sabermetrically inclined will ooh and ahh at what amounts to some shocking (though likely unsustainable) numbers like a career high 9.6K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 0.5 HR/9, with only 4.4% of fly balls going over the fence, his ERA is 1.23 with a 2.45 FIP and an amazing 320 ERA+, he also posses a minuscule .198 BABIP, and an amazingly efficient 87.8% strand rate. Weaver has lots of experience facing the A’s, and hitters currently playing with Oakland have a .228/.286/.354 slash line off Weaver.

Squaring off against Weaver will be the A’s opening day lineup and Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez thus far has been good, but nowhere near as good as Weaver. His K rate is up to 8.3 K/9 this year, which is seemingly tied to his BB rate increasing to 4.7BB/9. Gio still hasn’t figured out how to reduce his walks while still keeping his strikeouts high. Gio owns a 1.80 ERA, though he has a 4.33 FIP which is quickly explained because of his unsustainable 97.2% strand rate. That game against the Tigers where he walked six, he managed to walk them all with two outs and escape trouble, that sort of thing doesn’t last long. Key for the game for Gio will be control, control, control. When he keeps fewer runners on base he stays in longer. A good thing about his strand rate though is that it demonstrates he isn’t as easily rattled as he has been in years past. Gio’s strand rate has increased every year he has been in the majors going from 54.9% to 67.8% to 78.1% last year. So thats our matchup for today!

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