By Jason Wojciechowski on June 22, 2011 at 6:25 PM
This is even later than I thought it'd be. Oops. Right to the
Box & Notes
|--Barton (PH)||1||0||-.256|RiJemile Weeks broke out his leadoff skills for this one, taking two walks, both on full counts, from Dillon Gee in his first two times up. He stole second after the first walk and did so again after his single off of D.J. Carrasco. Ray Fosse is all over the "Jemile Weeks slides really late" beat, so I won't hammer the point too hard here, but for those of you who read these recaps but don't watch the games (or who listen on radio, or watch on Gameday, or who watch with the visiting announcers (for shame!), or who just stumbled here via Google), Jemile weeks takes forceful headlong slides into second when he steals, and he takes them very late, always ending up with his toes just barely hanging onto the bag on the other side. He will get caught going over the bag at some point (as Coco Crisp has done twice this year at least), but I haven't seen it happen yet. What Fosse is more worried about at this point is whether Weeks puts his hands in a correct position so that he doesn't break his fingers on the bag (Crisp has also been injured on the base).
By the way, given that Crisp and Weeks both slide in very similar ways, and also similar to the way I remember Rickey Henderson sliding, I wonder how much coaching has come into their sliding technique, and I further wonder how much that's A's-specific, similarities between guys who've happened to coach Weeks and Crisp, or perhaps even a broader league trend. (I can't say I've noticed a huge number of players going to the headfirst slide league-wide, much less the late headfirst slide, but I don't watch the league as a whole as closely as some of you might -- thoughts?)
Cliff Pennington's ground-ball single off of Carrasco probably had more velocity off the bat than his bloop/line double down the left-field line in the fourth. Location is everything!
Coco Crisp hit the ball hard his first time up, but didn't really make solid contact the rest of the night. I guess his line-out to Dillon Gee in the fourth inning had some force, but it looked to my eye like a one-hopper to the second baseman even if Gee hadn't caught it. (Note, by the way, how that ball goes down as a line-out because Gee caught it, but had he not, it might have been a grounder. Just another illustration of how the fly/line-drive distinction isn't the only tough one in batted-ball classification.)
One of Hideki Matsui's two outs was a deep fly to center with nobody out and the bases loaded. It was not the best result in the world, but it was certainly better than the double play or popup or strikeout the more pessmistic among us (ahem) might have been expecting. Matsui also walked twice, somewhat shockingly.
More notable, perhaps, were the various times that Matsui was actually required to do running-based tasks. He had three fairly tough catches in left field, two on the run and one in which he had to negotiate the tiny sliver of foul ground by the wall down the left-field line. On the negative side, he completely misread a Ryan Sweeney fly/liner to right-center in the fifth, freezing or going to second to tag up instead of running or at least going halfway to third base. The mishap caused Conor Jackson to come awfully close to passing him on the basepaths, surely resulted in Jackson not being able to read third, and very possibly kept Ryan Sweeney to a single instead of a double.
Like everybody else on the team (by which I mean Weeks and Matsui), Conor Jackson notched two walks and a single in the game. Also like Matsui, Jackson's out in the first inning brought home a run.
I want to pull up the Brooks Baseball PITCHf/x graphic for Jackson's third-inning walk, though, because to my eye, balls one, two, and four were all possible strikes. Dillon Gee and Ronny Paulino complained fairly mildly (by J. Papelbon standards, anyway) about this, and they really seemed to have valid beef. Here it is:
So yeah, that's not really a walk. (For what it's worth, Gee only threw two other pitches in that general area. One was fouled off and one was a called strike.)
Ryan Sweeney had the most Ryan Sweeney day of all Ryan Sweeney days: four singles. It's a Golden Sweeney. Also, he came a few feet from making it five singles in five trips (Platinum Sweeney) as his first-inning at-bat resulted in a hard line-drive (probably his hardest-hit ball) right at Jose Reyes.
Kurt Suzuki, king of the pop out (I'm not checking the numbers on that because I'm probably wrong), likely does not realize that HR/FB is only a luck factor if you're hitting legitimate fly balls.
Also, hey, check out this strike-zone plot for Suzuki's walk against D.J. Carrasco:
Isn't that weird? It's like Carrasco couldn't figure out that Suzuki was just not, goddammit, not going to swing at the sinker low on the outside corner. The pitches were basically identical to the naked eye, with ball three appearing a little farther outside than the others (backed up by the PITCHf/x image). It was like a drill: the pitcher throws tantalizing sinkers to teach Suzuki how to lay off.
Scott Sizemore's best shot at reaching base came in the second, when he hit a line drive to left that looked like it just managed to get over the head of Reyes at short, but then still somehow stayed up enough for Jason Bay to make an awkward tumbling catch in left-center for the out. I told y'all: Sizemore hits the ball hard.
Somebody needs to tell Josh Outman not to run so hard to first base on a routine ground ball. Both times he put the ball in play, he thought he had a shot to beat it out and busted ass down the line. Both times he was out. In the fifth, unfortunately, he was the third out of the inning, and he apparently did actually take some extra time slowly walking back to the dugout, slowly gathering his stuff, taking his warmups, etc. Bob Melvin, experienced NL manager that he is, apparently held the A's fielders around and maybe told them to dawdle a bit. All of this likely depends on a compliant umpire behind the plate, because if he tells you to hurry it up, you've just got to go, regardless of how hard you just ran down to first base.
Daric Barton hit a first-pitch fly ball to left pinch-hitting for Craig Breslow in the eighth inning. One can only hope that this was not the last thing he ever did as an Oakland Athletic. For now, he'll join Kevin Kouzmanoff in Sacramento, as he was optioned out after the game to make room for new first baseman Mark Ellis. (No seriously: Ellis is to be used as a second utility man now that Jemile Weeks is here to stay, and there's talk of that including first base. If Conor Jackson really needs a rest that bad, I propose we revoke his Professional Athlete License.)
This was a pretty solid Outman-y performance, with a solid number of whiffs (in the league-average range, which I understand to be about 8%), lots of fly balls, a full six of which I'd classify as popups (noting, however, that a popup, for me, is completely permitted to reach the outfield -- three of Outman's "pops" did just that, two of which fell in, both on mistakes by Jemile Weeks who, for all his athleticism, may in fact benefit from the tutelate of Mark Ellis over the remainder of this season).
Outman only had one perfect inning, but he also only had one inning (the fourth) in which he had to face more than four batters, and that was the frame in which Weeks made both of his boo-boos. And despite it all, the two errors (I'm not sure whether they were actually classified as such) sandwiched around a walk to Jason Bay, the Mets only got a single run on Ruben Tejada's sac fly to right, and even that run was just a few inches from not scoring, as Ryan Sweeney's throw was hard and nearly on target, but just pulled Kurt Suzuki up the line enough that Angel Pagan was able to come sliding home.
Craig Breslow threw unremarkably, but well, and I'm only including this bullet because I don't want him to feel left out.
Brian Fuentes, by contrast, did not throw well. Ryan Sweeney, with a good jump, good speed, and a well-timed, under-control slide, took away a double in the gap from Daniel Murphy, Angel Pagan got an easy five-pitch walk, Coco Crisp took a homer away from Jason Bay, leaping at the wall to keep the ball from hitting above the orange line, though he was unable to actually reel it in, so the play went down as a triple, and then Willie Harris got plunked in the back with an off-speed pitch. In the end, thanks to Sweeney, Crisp, and Grant Balfour, the Mets only managed one run, but it sure could've been a lot worse. Golf clap for Bob Melvin yanking Fuentes rather than going down with the ship. (Not that this was a particularly ballsy or difficult call. It's not like Fuentes is the closer these days.)
Balfour took a little time to turn into himself, walking Lucas Duda (although arguably walks are just as much part of who Balfour is as anything else) before retiring the next four batters, the last two on swinging strikeouts. Unless I missed something, he threw just one non-fastball to those four hitters, a 1-1 curve that Jose Reyes popped into left for an out.