The Marlins jumped on our man Trevor Cahill, knocking him out before the end of
the fifth inning as they took a 5-0 lead, four of those five runs coming in the
fateful fifth frame. The nonsense really got rolling with a weak two-out tapper
down the third-base line that just refused to roll foul, but then Trevor Cahill
made his own luck after that, giving up a line-drive single to Logan Morrison, a
chop single up the middle by Mike Stanton, and a smash double to left-center by
John Buck before giving way to Trystan Magnuson.
Magnuson and Brian Fuentes kept the Marlins off the board for the next 4.1
innings, allowing the A's to mount a comeback. Oakland scored one in the seventh
on an Adam Rosales single after Jose Lopez booted a Kurt Suzuki grounder to keep
the inning alive, one in the eighth on a Coco Crisp homer, and two in the ninth
on a Suzuki homer. With two outs to go and suddenly facing just a one-run lead,
however, Leo Nunez bore down and whiffed Rosales and Jemile Weeks to end the
Jemile Weeks hit a bloop double down the left-field line, reaching second on a
headfirst slide ahead of Logan Morrison's throw, a play that perhaps just two
other A's could have made. I'm thinking of Coco Crisp and Cliff Pennington, but
really, I'm not even sure if they can match Weeks's speed, all of which was
needed on this play.
Weeks later added a hard low line-drive single to right before being
wiped out on a Cliff Pennington double-play grounder.
Weeks made a heads-up play on a boneheaded baserunning move from Emilio
Bonifacio in the third inning. With Omar Infante on first and Gaby
Sanchez at the plate, Bonifacio stood at third. One man out. On ball
four, Infante broke for second. Suzuki threw through, and for some
reason, on seeing that throw, Bonifacio decided to head for home. Weeks,
either because he saw that Sanchez had walked or because he saw
Bonifacio running for home, cut the throw off short and made a good peg
back to the plate to nail Bonifacio easily. (Suzuki, notably, blocked
the plate with his left in a way that can't have made Billy Beane very
happy, and Bonifacio, to my eyes, would have been out either way.) I
don't go in for this "sometimes rookies panic" stuff, but I think
sometimes ballplayers do get flustered and rush their throws, turning
an easy out on a broken play into a run for the other team. Weeks should
be given a golf clap for staying within the play and making the easy
throw for the out.
Cliff Pennington came rather near garnering a double (or, hope against hope, a
triple) in the eighth inning against Edward Mujica, but Gaby Sanchez made a nice
falling catch down the line to take the hit away. It actually didn't look like a
terrifically tough play on replay, but Pennington did scald the ball pretty
Coco Crisp, number three hitter, had a walk and a homer in the game. Doesn't
matter that he's about 5'9" and more the fast-center-fielder type. This was a
middle-of-the-order game! Right down, unfortunately, to his first-inning
To be fair to Crisp, it was a really nice play by the Marlins defense to
get the twin killing, as you don't often see double plays when the
runner on first takes off on the pitch, especially when said runner is
as fleet as Cliff Pennington. The hard one-hopper came right to Chris
Volstad, however, and he threw to second with no hesitation, giving the
pivot man (I can't remember if it was Emilio Bonifacio, the shortstop,
or Omar Infante, the second baseman) time to get off a decent throw to
first despite Pennington bearing down on him with a slide.
Hideki Matsui grounded out three times to the right side, never very hard, and
once to shortstop. Welcome to the twilight of your career, sir.
Chris Carter! He started! And got a hit! Granted, that hit was a bloop single
just over Omar Infante's head into right field, but he did hit balls fairly hard
his next two times up, including a low liner toward the middle part of the
diamond that Bonifacio happened to be in good position to grab. A strikeout his
last time up was not unexpected, but I consider this a not-terrible 2011 debut.
Bob Melvin probably thinks it was an utter failure.
Conor Jackson hit two balls hard, but one was a liner right at Omar Infante,
who was positioned really far up the middle for a nobody-on situation, and one
was a liner to left right at Logan Morrison. Unlucky showing for Jackson.
David DeJesus's second single, in the ninth inning against Leo Nunez, coming
ahead of Kurt Suzuki's homer, was a weak tapper down the third-base line. What
delicious justice it would have been had that tapper contributed to a victory
after the Marlins basically owed their fifth-inning four-run rally to a
similarly placed ball.
I'm ruling Jose Lopez's backhand in the seventh inning an error, not a single
for Suzuki, but it should be noted that the A's catcher hit the ball very hard,
so it would have been a tough-luck out had Lopez made the play. Not tough-luck
enough to award him a hit, though.
I joked yesterday that Suzuki's homer was the shortest one
ever hit at the Coliseum -- it was a low liner that barely cleared the
wall in left field, although, like the Lopez error, that shouldn't take
away from how hard Suzuki hit the ball. He just happened to not hit it
on a trajectory that one typically associates with homers. In Boston,
I think Suzuki would've had a single.
Hit Tracker Online says that Suzuki's line shot was not actually the
shortest bomb of the day, but was rather third, the two behind him
coming in at 345 (Dustin Pedroia) and 346 (Jason Varitek) feet, compared
to Suzuki's 358. True to the line-drive form, Suzuki's homer registered
a speed-off-the-bat of 103.4, far ahead of most of the
comparably-distanced homers, closest, on the day, to Mark Teixeira's
103.1 mph shot that traveled 409 feet.
Adam Rosales's day at the plate was unremarkable, as he hit the ball on the
ground three times, once for a single. Pretty dull.
Rosales did uncork a wild throw in the fourth inning that allowed Jose
Lopez to reach first, but Conor Jackson's leaping grab kept the play
from being more than a one-base error, and Trevor Cahill struck out
DeWayne Wise to end the inning, so no harm done.
Rosales was also part of a no-communication missed popup when he and
Kurt Suzuki converged on a ball near the A's dugout, stopped, and let
the ball drop between them. Again no harm done, though, as Trystan
Magnuson got a high flyout to Hideki Matsui two piches later.
Trevor Cahill was overly generous with the pitches out of the zone and
consequently the free passes, plus he gave up a number of hard-hit balls, so he
made his own luck, luckily placed squibs and choppers aside. Cahill's style of
pitching lends itself to ill fortune, but squibbers that somehow turn into hits
shouldn't mask the fact that the Marlins knocked Cahill around pretty well.
Trystan Magnuson's reward for 47 good pitches, holding the Marlins to their
five-run line and giving the A's a chance to come back? Getting optioned out for
Fautino "The Mormon" de los Santos today.
Seven fly balls in nine batters is a lot, but one was a Jose Lopez foul
pop, two were lazy flies to Hideki Matsui, one was a weird bloopy soft
liner caught in the air on the grass by Cliff Pennington, and two were
routine flies to David DeJesus. That leaves a line drive by Omar Infante
as the only really hard-hit ball that Magnuson gave up (although we
should acknowledge the vicissitudes of fly-ball pitching and note that
the difference between Hanley Ramirez's medium fly ball to DeJesus and a
ringing double over his head is, what, half an inch in terms of bat
Brian Fuentes's locker caught fire before the game. No, really.
Here's what I don't get about the Chris Carter thing. He's not good enough to
start every day while he's up, displacing Hideki Matsui at DH or Conor Jackson
at first or even David DeJesus (with whatever defensive switching you need to
keep Carter out of the pasture), but when he does start, he bats ahead of both
Jackson and DeJesus? He's good enough to hit fifth, but he's not good enough to
play every day?
This isn't a righty-lefty thing, either, because Jackson, a right-handed batter,
was placed directly behind Carter in the order. To the extent that Bob Melvin
uses a batting lineup the way most managers do, this was a direct signal that he
believes Carter is a better hitter than Jackson.
To calm down my rhetoric, though, perhaps what this really signals is that the
A's truly hate Carter's defense, even at first base, and do not see him as even
passable at the position. This is also indicated by the fact that they'd rather
have Hideki Matsui, knees and all, in left field for a game than put Carter at
first (and push Jackson out to left).
It's also conceivable that Bob Melvin doesn't believe in the supersub concept
and thus does not want Conor Jackson to be an everyday player who roves around
the four corners. I'm unaware of any research on the question of whether there's
any hitting penalty associated with being a multi-position player, for what it's
The first explanation would make a good excuse for not playing Carter right now,
assuming the A's believe they are still in the playoff race. Is Carter's bat
less Jackson's bat greater than the spread between their defense? Alternatively,
is Carter's bat less Sweeney/DeJesus's bat greater than the spread between the
defense of Sweeney/DeJesus and Matsui? (I'm assuming that Matsui is an everyday
If the A's think those glove differences are pretty substantial, too substantial
to justify everyday use, then I can hardly disagree, because it's not like I
have access to the data that Oakland is surely relying on to make these
One other note: I don't know if Bob Melvin knows about the pinch-hitter penalty
or what, but he had Ryan Sweeney on the bench in the ninth inning when both
Conor Jackson and Adam Rosales made outs. Sure, hitting for Jackson with Sweeney
would have complicated the defensive structure a bit, as the A's only other real
first baseman was starting at DH, but if it comes to it, Adam Rosales can slide
over or you can give up the DH. You don't worry about 10th inning defense in the
9th inning when you're down.
Weirder was that Sweeney didn't even hit for Adam Rosales when it was a one-run
game after Kurt Suzuki's homer. The defense is no trouble there: you just plug
Scott Sizemore in at third. Perhaps Sweeney was unavailable?
Florida's announcers, whom I had to suffer through because there was no A's
broadcast of the game, talk way too much.