Well goddammit. Putting up six runs in a game started by Clay Buchholz is a nice
thing to do. Allowing eight, even when it's Josh Outman's turn in the rotation?
Not so nice.
Box & Notes
Coco Crisp stole a base against Tommy Hottovy,1 a left-handed
reliever making his major-league debut. Poor Jarrod Saltalamacchia had no chance
on the throw. Welcome to the big-leagues, kid!
Josh Willingham had a nice game with two doubles and a Monster single. He also
took off for third on a weird play in the seventh that resulted in Bobby Jenks
balking. I'm not entirely sure why it was a balk, but Kuiper and Fosse seemed
convinced, even if Terry Francona wasn't, so I'm good with it.
Welcome back to the lineup, Hideki Matsui.
One amusing point of his day: when he scored on a Daric Barton single,
just ahead of Mike Cameron's throw from right field, Jarrod
Saltalamacchia was in a nearly identical position as Buster Posey was on
The Play. Matsui slid to the outside, as happens on probably 99% of
similar plays, but Ray Fosse decided to give a dissertation on how that
was the right play and how, even with Saltalamacchia's foot sort of in
front of the plate, based on where he was receiving the ball, the slide
to the outside was a perfectly reasonable play for coming home safely.
Kurt Suzuki had a single and a walk, but this blog being what it is, let's
focus on the negative: his pitiful fifth-inning at-bat with Josh Willingham on
third base and one out. Clay Buchholz started things with a fastball on the
inside corner that Suzuki whiffed on. It's not the kind of pitch I'd usually
advise swinging at to open an at-bat because even if you make contact, you're
not likel to hit anything solidly. He then followed up by whiffing on the next
pitch, a fastball that looked a little low. After a ball, he popped out to the
catcher. With a runner on third and one out, let me re-emphasize. In a game the
A's ended up losing by two.
Daric Barton, newly moved to the sixth spot in the order in light of his
struggles at the plate, had a line single to right, two sharp grounders, one for
an out and one for a single, and a weak grounder for a double play. All in all,
three outs and two times on base is a better rate than he's been hitting at this
Perhaps most importantly to frustrated A's fans, Barton didn't take a
single fat pitch. In fact, he took just one strike total, a fastball on
the outer half on 1-0 in the fifth inning. He wound up hitting his
second single in that at-bat, knocking Buchholz out of the box and
giving the A's a 6-5 lead in the process.
Mark Ellis had some interactions with the Red Sox defense in this game. In the
first inning, he hit a chopper up the middle that looked for all the world like
it would be a groundout to Jed Lowrie, ending the inning with the A's up 2-0.
Instead, the ball just got past the diving Lowrie's glove for a single, and the
A's found themselves with a 4-0 advantage. I described the play in my notes as
"Jeterian," but it's hard to know whether that's fair. I watch a lot of
baseball, but I still have trouble judging whether a fielder should or should
not have reached a ball. (For what it's worth, Jed Lowrie is not well regarded
by FRAA, and the Fan Scouting Reports rate his instincts, first step, and speed
in the 50s (out of 100).)
Ellis also hit a fly to the Monster that might have been a double, but
Jacoby Ellsbury made a ... well, it wasn't quite a leaping catch. Let's
call it a hopping catch. He didn't end up having to leave the ground all
that far to make the grab, but he did have to arrive at the spot in time
and time it, so it was still a nice play.
Kevin Kouzmanoff is nothing if not a station-to-station player, so the Red Sox
decided to make a gift of a couple of stations to him in the fourth. After he
hit a topspin-heavy line drive to center for a single, he was moved to second by
an errant pickoff throw,2 then to third by a passed ball / wild
pitch, before scoring on a ground ball to first. Adrian Gonzalez had a shot at
throwing Kouzmanoff out at the plate, but he hesitated a bit on deciding what
play to make, it seemed, and then his throw was a little bit high -- not high
enough to make Saltalamacchia jump or anything like that, but the throw to get
the out would have needed to be low and on the plate to allow the catcher to
sweep into the tag. With Saltalamacchia having to reach up and then try to swipe
the tag down, Kouzmanoff was clearly safe.
Kouzmanoff on defense giveth and taketh away, as has been the case all
year, it seems. In the second, he got an easy grounder that he just
threw away, hopping the ball past Barton and out of play, allowing Mike
Cameron, who'd later score, to stand on second base instead of heading
back to his own dugout. On the other hand, in that very same inning,
with Saltalamacchia on first base, Dustin Pedroia hit a sharp grounder
to Kouzmanoff's left that the third baseman dove to stop before making a
sharp throw to second to end the frame.
Cliff Pennington's walk in the fourth got a "nice at-bat" marking in my notes,
as he fouled off, with two strikes, three fastballs in different locations and a
curve at the knees as he worked his way from 1-2 to the free pass. One of the
foul balls was on a fastball that looked hittable, but I'm not going to complain
especially loudly when the final result is the man reaching base.
Not sure where else to put this, so: Jonathan Papelbon is pretty good.
Josh Outman didn't pitch well. He's not a ground-ball pitcher, so the
grounder rate above isn't necessarily alarming, but his pitches were definitely
elevated, allowing balls to be put in play, both hard and soft, in ways that can
turn out to hurt.
This isn't to imply that Outman was dinked and blooped to death. The Red
Sox' first run came after a bloop single, sure, but Carl Crawford also
hit a ball to the short wall in right that, had David DeJesus not gotten
to, would have left the yard. That's putting aside the various line
drives hit by Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, et al.
Guillermo Moscoso, by contrast, pitched just fine. Given his pitch assortment
(a decent fastball without a ton of movement or velocity, a change that he
apparently has a tendency to telegraph, and an occasional breaker), you wouldn't
expect three strikeouts in nine batters, or seven whiffs in 39 pitches, but
that's exactly what he got.
Moscoso did give up two line-drive singles to Adrian Gonzalez and
Kevin Youkilis to start the fifth, but he battled back with a whiff,
popup, and ground ball to Daric Barton to get out of the jam. While five
of his six balls in play were in the air, two of them were popups to
infielders in foul territory, and a third was a fly to David DeJesus
that was little more than a pop.
Daric Barton let Craig Breslow down by once again ranging too far to his right
on a ground ball that he should have let Mark Ellis play, this time not
resulting in an infield single but an error as he dropped the transfer. Breslow
got a Saltalamacchia grounder to Kouzmanoff's left, though, to erase the
Joey Devine ends up the game's goat along with Josh Outman, as he gave up a
line double off the monster to Adrian Gonzalez before hitting Youkilis and
walking Ortiz to load the bases. He managed to induce a popup from Jed Lowrie
before giving way to Brian Fuentes, and the Carl Crawford hit that Fuentes
allowed was the weakest, bloopiest piece of bullshit I've ever seen in my damn
life, but still: Devine can't load the bases with one out in a one-run game and
expect anything good to come of it.
Ray Fosse said that the problem with the Crawford at-bat was that Fuentes fell
behind, but I disagree. Yes, Fuentes did fall behind, but the result was not a
hittable fastball that Crawford lined to center. The at-bat ended on a 3-2
fastball that might not even have been a strike that just blooped, as I've
already said, out beyond the reach of anyone.
It's a little weird to see a Michael Wuertz appearance that lasts 16 pitches
and has no whiffs.
Hottovy's got a funky delivery and comes from way over on the left side.
It looks like he probably hides the ball well, and his delivery might
mean he could have a future as a LOOGY if things break right. ↩
Nothing angers Ray Fosse more than an error on a pickoff throw when the
runner is someone who never steals bases. ↩
As you can see, I have added another stat to the table -- "Whf" means
swings-and-misses, and will include foul-tips caught by the catcher. ↩