One swing of the bat. Oakland had a 2-1 lead until Dallas Braden left a
changeup out over the plate that Travis Snider absolutely murdered for a
line-drive three-run homer, giving the Blue Jays the 4-2 lead that Jesse Litsch,
Marc Rzepczynski, and Jon Rauch would make stand up.
Of course, nothing's ever that simple. A three-run homer requires a series of
events leading to that homer. In that case, that series included a five-pitch
walk to Juan Rivera, generally a free swinger, and a grounder by Edwin
Encarnacion that Cliff Pennington dove and nearly came up with. If Pennington
makes that play and starts a double play, obviously it's a whole new ballgame.
Even if he only gets the lead runner, then a homer (assuming the predetermined
outcome, which ...) only ties the game. Who knows how things play out from
Such is the way of things when you trot out an offense like the A's, though.
Your defense is inches from getting you out of the inning, you make one mistake
pitch, and now you're in a hole you can't climb out of, even against a
decent-but-not-great pitcher like Jesse Litsch.
On to the box scores and notes.
LaRoche (3B, SS)
Kouzmanoff (PH, 3B)
Crisp nearly had a double in the third inning that Encarnacion speared nicely.
The triple in the 5th hung up for Rajai Davis, but the ball just squeezed out
the end of his glove as he tried to make the running catch in the right-center
field gap. It's not what I understand to typically be an error, so I have no
quibbles with the call, but Davis very easily could have "robbed" Crisp of the
triple (and thus the A's their third run).
This near-out triple and near-double out make Coco the Offensive
Player of the Game for the second time this year.1
Crisp also narrowly missed keeping Adam Lind's line drive in the first
inning in front of him. Given the way his momentum was carrying him and
his generally weak arm, it's possible that Yunel Escobar would have
scored from first anyway. Even if not, the Jays would have had runners
on second and third with one out. It likely was not that crucial a
Barton saw five pitches in the third inning, but Cliff Pennington was caught
stealing to end the inning on the fifth, so he got a clean slate to start the
fourth, and he worked an eight-pitch walk. Thirteen pitches in basically one
plate appearance is pretty good!
DeJesus scalded a line drive into the right field corner for a fourth-inning
double, then scored on Matsui's double. I don't think the A's right fielder hit
a single ball hard against the Mariners, so it's nice to see him have ripped
line drives in these Blue Jays games, even if they're coming to naught as far as
DeJesus may well have beat out a deflected infield single off a ground
ball toward Adam Lind at first in the fifth inning, but the umpire
called him out. Ray and Papa spent some time wondering about the
call, but neither was particularly vociferous, which tells us what we
need to know -- neither is ever quiet in their pursuit of the correction
Unfortunately, DeJesus also made a horrifying defensive play, completely
losing a line drive more or less right at him, letting it get past him
unmolested. The play was scored a triple, but in a sensible world, it's
an error. The fact that DeJesus didn't manage to get even a skosh of
leather on the ball is an indictment of his defense, not a reason to
give the batter a hit where he doesn't deserve one.
Willingham did nothing at the plate, but he did his damnedest to make up for it
on defense, throwing a perfect strike to second after a drive off the wall in
left to cut down J.P. Arencibia by about ten feet. He also made a solid
tumbling catch on a sinking liner in the sixth.
Matsui struck out three times, but hit a two-run double (and earned it -- he
roped a liner into right) and also made a nice baserunning play, recognizing
that Rajai Davis was catching Kurt Suzuki's liner moving away from the infield
and therefore would have no chance to throw him out, tagging up, because he
couldn't get set and make the peg in time.
Ellis didn't have the best at-bats I've ever seen tonight, looking bad on a
changeup in the second and a slider out of the zone in the fourth, as well as
squandering a 3-0 (then 3-1) count by only managing a shallow pop fly into
He also nearly made the defensive play of the night on John McDonald,
who hit a grounder up the middle. Ellis got to it behind the bag and
made a jump throw, but was unable to get enough on it as McDonald beat
the ball to the bag by maybe 18 inches. (McDonald eventually came in to
score an insurance run, so this was a fairly important play.)
LaRoche made a pair of poor plays at third base, providing evidence that the
entire position is cursed for the A's, not just Kevin Kouzmanoff. On the
first play, after going to a knee to stop a Yunel Escobar grounder from making
its way down the left field line, he stood and made a strong throw to first ...
which badly missed Daric Barton. I believe the play was ruled a hit, but a good
throw surely could have gunned down Escobar.
Second, the easiest Aaron Hill grounder in the world came right to
LaRoche just two batters later, but he Kouz'd it, bobbling it not once
but twice. He still managed to pick the ball up and throw Hill out by
about four inches, though.
Which reminds me: LaRoche seems to have a very strong arm. We're not
talking a Caminiti Cannon or anything, but he gets about the same
mustard on his tosses that Cliff Pennington usually does.
Pennington had a bloop single, but was thrown out trying to steal, and it
wasn't even close -- the throw from J.P. Arencibia was toward first base and a
little high, but Escobar still had plenty of time to gather the ball in and
apply a tag to Pennington as he went diving into the bag.
Braden did not look sharp for much of the night, though his mistakes weren't
egregious -- as you can see, his strike rate was quite good, and it's not like
he was getting knocked all over the yard. He got his usual assortment of popups
(five, by my count), and with a little bit of infield defense help, maybe some
of the five runs he allowed don't score.
Brad Ziegler had a tough situation in the eighth, coming in with nobody out
and runners on second and third. He did give up a fairly well-hit single to
score a run, but then started throwing strikes to Juan Rivera and Edwin
Encarnacion, resulting in a whiff on a frisbee slider about 12 feet outside and
a GIDP to end the inning.
The Offensive Player of the Game rankings now stand at: (2) Coco
Crisp; (2) Josh Willingham; (1) Daric Barton; ↩