Live Blogging: Orioles @ A’s Game 52
10:21PM PDT: A’s win! While the O’s bullpen gave them heartburn, the A’s gave us true relief. A comparison:
So in a battle of bullpens the A’s decisively win. Offensively a night where you leave 15 men on would normally be cause for concern but the A’s had baserunner after baserunner after baserunner and were 5-for-15 with RISP with five of the runs coming with two outs. So promising day for the offense – bullpen pitching was stellar to overcome a so-so effort from Gio Gonzalez. Forgot that any comments regarding Fuentes warming or not being used etc, all fall on Joel Skinner who took over once Geren was ejected. So it is now official that I absolutely under no circumstances want Joel Skinner to manage this club either. A’s now are up to 25-27 and are still by themselves in last place but are only one and half games out of the division leading Rangers – so a lot can change with a good weekend.
10:17PM PDT: Sure enough here comes Wuertz to face the three righties. It is scary to think that had Willingham not hit that HR would Geren really have had Fuentes come in to face three right-handed hitters in a row? Reimold and Reynolds are powerful hitters and then J.J. Hardy also right-handed isn’t the worst hitter in the American League.
10:14PM PDT: Interesting series of tweets from Vince Cotroneo that sort of douse any controversy I was brewing up with my earlier comments regarding Brian Fuentes:
“Fuentes the closer for the A’s….again…Devine on in the 8th” (at 10:01)
“Fuentes sits after Willingham HR…lead 6-2 now… [Michael] Wuertz up” (at 10:06)
Interesting…? (and somewhat alarming)
10:05PM PDT: Home run Josh Willingham! Eighth dinger on the campaign to deep left field. Gonzalez’ HR/FB is now up to 26.1%. And if not for the two walks in the bottom of the seventh, he nearly kept up with his 1:1 HR/BB ratio. Oakland 6, Baltimore 2.
10:04PM PDT: Ten pitch 1-2-3 eighth for Joey Devine. Nice stuff. Great outing – he is back. Was through the heart of the order too, Markakis, Guerrero and Wieters.
9:50PM PDT: Simon strikes out LaRoche to bring him to a full two-innings and Showalter makes a move inserting the southpaw Mike Gonzalez. Gonzalez’ control this year is better than usual (2.9 BB/9 to a career mark of 4.2 BB/9) problem is his HR/9 is identical to his BB/9 at 2.9 aided by an astronomical 23.8% HR/FB. All that adds up to a sloppy 8.04 ERA though don’t worry folks his FIP indicates he really only is about a 6.29 pitcher. As a reliever he is worth an astonishing -0.4 WAR this year. And thanks to Cot’s Baseball Contracts we can see that for all this wonderful pitching the Orioles are paying $7M (or more than any player on the A’s roster).
9:46PM PDT: I’m surprised that Showalter is leaving Alfredo Simon in this ballgame. He is up to 49 pitches with 27 of them strikes. But it has been a tough outing with one and two thirds innings with four hits, three (earned) runs, two walks and three K’s. Showalter knows his bullpen far better than I do. The Orioles bullpen has been a problem for them, second worst FIP in the AL coming into today (and its only gotten worse) at 5.09, third worst ERA at 5.02, worth a combined -1.1 WAR. Ouch.
9:42PM PDT: Joey Devine is beginning to throw in the bullpen. This begs the question to me, is Brian Fuentes not only demoted from the closer role but demoted from being the eighth-inning set up guy too? It’s a good move if Geren starts using him as a LOOGY but is a bit surprising. I figured when he inserted Balfour as closer it was a swapping of roles not a complete rejection of Fuentes.
9:33PM PDT: Kurt Suzuki doesn’t appreciate the O’s disrespect and singles to right field scoring Sweeney. A’s add on, 5-2.
9:32PM PDT: Matsui is intentionally walked by Simon. The seventh time an Athletic has been IBB’d this year, strangely of all people Barton leads in this category with three.
9:30PM PDT: Josh Willingham didn’t murder the wall into the corner in left field but he certainly manslaughtered Simon’s pitch, scoring DeJesus and padding the A’s lead to 4-2.
9:25PM PDT: Carl Steward of the San Jose Mercury News confirms that Bailey’s outing was OK enough for the A’s. He tweets,
“#Athletics Andrew Bailey threw a scoreless eighth at Sacto tonight: 13 pitches, 10 strikes, 2 hits, 1K. Expect him Oakland this weekend.”
9:23PM PDT: Alfredo Simon is getting himself in some trouble here walking DeJesus. So runners on second and first with one out. Good time for Daric Barton to get some stuff going on the year and knock Simon who has some tough stuff out of this ballgame. Man can this guy change speeds throwing 94 mph fastballs then 80 mph splitters.
9:18PM PDT: So Bailey pitched one inning, allowing two hits and striking out one. I assume this qualifies as “going OK”?
9:12PM PDT: Bob Geren was ejected for arguing balls and strikes on the way back from inserting Ziegler in this game. The A’s chances of winning have just increased exponentially, this will be an interesting test drive of Joel Skinner‘s bullpen management.
9:09PM PDT: Well Bob Geren let Gio start the sixth but he was on a short leash because a base hit to Matt Wieters was all it took for Geren to march out to the mound and replace him with Brad Ziegler. So with Wieters on first this could still be a loss for Gio, but it cannot be a win. He leaves having thrown 99 pitches spread across five-plus innings allowing five hits, two runs (one earned), with five walks and seven strikeouts.
9:08PM PDT: Andrew Bailey is taking the mound in Sacramento. If this outing goes well his next appearance will be in the Green and Gold…
9:06PM PDT: Simon with a killer outing, as the A’s involuntarily slaughter their chance at a breakout. (Laying it on thick – innocent until proven guilty – but really how did this guy manage to score a visa with that hanging over your head? Really pays to play pro baseball!) A’s and O’s still knotted up at two – let’s see if a limping Gio with 94 pitches to his credit today comes out for the sixth…
8:58PM PDT: Chris Tillman walks Hideki Matsui and the bases are now loaded. 102 pitches, 60 strikes and Buck Showalter is giving him the hook. He only lasts four and a third, allowing six hits, two runs (one earned), three walks and K’ing two. Messy outing for him. High pitch count and control problems sink him as they do nearly any pitcher. Alfredo Simon fresh from a Dominican jail will come in to pitch for the O’s.
8:44PM PDT: Real gamer. Gio stays in seems fine.
8:42PM PDT: Not a good sign. Gio twists his ankle it looks like covering first on a bad throw from Cliff Pennington. He had another outing where he looked like he might be injured on April 8th against the Twins. A run scores on the failed double play – it is unearned but perhaps of little consolation. But Fox scoring means that the game is tied at two.
8:36PM PDT: Wow, impressive catch by Markakis there to take one away from DeJesus. Markakis has to be one of the most underrated players in all of baseball. Never been an All-Star but the epitome of consistent with a .295/.365/.455 slash line and an average 41 doubles and 18 home runs a year. He isn’t too flashy but he gets the job done and guarantees a certain caliber of play year-in-year-out. Gets no attention playing with an organization like the O’s that have been years away from relevance.
8:26PM PDT: Four innings but 78 pitches for Gio… wow. Tillman has only gone three but is at 69…
8:09PM PDT: Seventh strikeout of the game ends the third inning. Weird outing so far for Gio, control isn’t really there but he’s getting guys swinging.
7:56PM PDT: David DeJesus comes through with a line drive to left off of the glove of Reynolds that allows Mark Ellis to score from second. A’s retake the lead 2-1. CSNCalifornia just showed a stat showing the split of DeJesus from one month to the next perhaps I take back my comment regarding no one piecing together good games on this team (stats are entering today):
7:48PM PDT: To me on this call of whether or not the LaRoche hit is fair or foul I would think the umpires should react to how Nick Markakis played the ball. He got up and turned around to throw it. Markakis was closest to the play and he obviously thought it was a fair ball. But replays make it look like it was indeed foul… I think it was a good call and even Markakis got it wrong.
7:39PM PDT: Gio walks, of all people the itching to strikeout Mark Reynolds. Gio is pretty pissed off (he pulled a “Grant Balfour” after the ball four pitch) and for good reason as in trots Vladimir Guerrero to tie this ballgame at one.
7:36PM PDT: Nolan Reimold‘s numbers are unreal. Granted, he has twelve plate appearances in 2011 but still he already has three home runs (his ISO is .909!). Jeez, not a bad pace there. He walks so the bases are now full with no one out. Quite the difference from one inning to another for Gio Gonzalez…
7:27PM PDT: The play was ruled an E5 and the A’s capitalize with a Hideki Matsui single to score Sweeney. A’s up 1 to 0. Domination of Baltimore to continue?
7:22PM PDT: Ryan Sweeney doubles to left field (chicks dig the singles stretched into doubles), love having him in the lineup, problem is when he is in it usually means someone else I want in the lineup isn’t in. This guy needs to learn third base.
7:16PM PDT: Nice start for Gio! Three swinging strikeouts to open the ballgame up barely works with only 14 pitches. Hot hot hot!
7:03PM PDT: A’s and O’s from the Coliseum. The Orioles are riding high on a five game win streak and are 24-24 in fourth and three and a half games behind the division leading Red Sox. The A’s are also in fourth and are only two and a half back but with a 24-27 record. On the hill for the A’s is Gio Gonzalez, the lefty is having a relatively unheralded but very good campaign with a 2.20 ERA and 3.22 FIP even more impressive is his K/9 are up (8.8) while is BB/9 are down (3.6) something he has been unable to do thus far in his career. He faces Chris Tillman (one of the many Orioles acquired from the M’s for Erik Bedard) who comes in with a sketchy 4.95 ERA but solid 3.44 FIP with 6.2 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9. He is a flyball pitcher (46.6%) but he has an incredible 2.9% HR/FB which is his salvation perhaps. Ryan Sweeney is playing center field with Coco Crisp getting the day off and will be hitting third. Andy LaRoche is playing third base, despite missing almost a week now the A’s inexplicably insist on not using the disabled list for Kevin Kouzmanoff and his pulled groin. The O’s lineup features a former Athletic in Jake Fox who is playing first base and hitting ninth. The A’s have won the series series with the O’s every season since 1998 when the O’s won 8-of-11. In other related news, the big news today was the trade of David Purcey to Detroit for infielder Scott Sizemore who has been assigned to Sacramento – but the news that prompted this move is contained in this tweet from Carl Steward of the San Jose Mercury News: