That's what I get for calling Seattle's hitters a "lolfense" is what happened.
They ran roughshod over Trevor Cahill, with a little help from Ryan Sweeney, in
the second inning, scoring five runs, basically putting the game away before it
even started. The sequence:
pop out, hard ground single, bloop single, line double, Sizemore, line single,
Sweeney, ground out, ground out
Obviously, those with asterisks need explanation. The Sizemore play, which was
weirdly reminiscent of a Chone Figgins play a half inning earlier, involved a
grounder to third with Figgins at third and Franklin Gutierrez at second.
Sizemore saw Figgins stray a little bit off the bag and had half a mind to try
to get him out there, but instead turned and threw to first. Unfortunately, the
batter was Ichiro, so the throw was late (and seemed to pull Conor Jackson off
the bag anyway), and instead of an out at first or an out at third, Sizemore got
no outs at all.
The Sweeney play was a classic outfielder being too aggressive, as he went into
a slide to try to catch or stop Dustin Ackley's sinking liner, but did neither,
letting it bounce over him all the way to the wall, giving the Mariner second
baseman third base. The play came with the bases loaded, so the score went from
2-0 to 5-0 just like that.
The A's got one back in the third on a Coco Crisp-initiated walk, steal, error,
sac fly sequence, but Seattle struck right back in the fourth after a Dustin
Ackley crazy-double (a weird chopper down the 3B line that just eluded Sizemore)
and two singles. They pushed another across in the fifth against Jordan
Norberto, making it 7-1.
Then some more scoring happened, obviously, but none of it really mattered.
BB, 1B x 2, SB
BB, 2B, HR
Jemile Weeks was the man on third when Chone Figgins did a similar thing as
described in re: Scott Sizemore above, except that Figgins actually dove to try
to tag Weeks out, but Weeks got back just ahead of the play.
Weeks had reached base in the first place by hitting a hard grounder off
of Blake Beavan's foot, causing the first of what seemed like many
interminable moments in the game, as the manager and pitching coach and
trainer all came out to watch Beavan throw, see if he was ok, etc. etc.
etc. This game, I'm saying, took way too long to finish.
It wasn't robbery, but Brendan Ryan made a really nice play on Weeks in
the ninth, snagging a chopper up the middle behind second base and
throwing him out at first. Weeks is quite fast and was running from the
left-hand batter's box on the play, so this was not routine.
Coco Crisp is just on a tear. His two singles were both hit hard, one a liner
to left-center and the other a grounder through the 5-6 hole. The official
scorer awarded him a hit in the ninth, but I'm not having it. The ball was hit
very sharply, but it bounced square off of Justin Smoak's glove -- Smoak was not
diving or otherwise making a special effort to make the play. I saw no reason
why a major league first baseman should not have made the play. It goes down as
E-3 on this blog.
Hideki Matsui was flat-out robbed in the third inning as he hit a slicing
liner toward left-center that Franklin Gutierrez somehow caught up with. I'm
still not sure how he did it. Hell, I'm not even sure that he did it. I think
he snookered the umpire somehow. Off the bat, I wasn't sure if Gutierrez would
get there, but as the hit developed, I saw the significant slice and figured it
would get down as Gutierrez realized he couldn't catch up and pulled off to keep
it from getting to the wall. No such luck. Instead, Death to Flying Things made
a full-extension layout and turned a double into a sacrifice fly.
Matsui was also awarded a dubious hit in the first inning -- he was the
batter on the Chone Figgins play described above, in the Jemile Weeks
bullet. Figgins's arm being what it is and Matsui's speed being what
it is, I think Figgins had a clear out at first that he chose not to
take, even as he made the catch going to a knee behind the third-base
What's notable about this is the graphic the A's broadcast flashed once
the play was ruled a hit: it counts as the 60,000th hit in Oakland
history. That's pretty cool. On this blog, though, Josh Willingham's 3rd
inning double is number 60,000, and will forever be so. (Actually,
probably not, because I'm sure I've disagreed with the official scorer
before on the blog, so who knows where my count stands.)
Gutierrez also made a running, stretch catch on the warning track in
left-center to take away what I initially thought was a homer and then figured
was a sure double from Josh Willingham in the sixth.
Ryan Sweeney is just being trolled by the umpires at this point, as he was
struck out in the first inning on a fastball that looked in on TV and from his
view in the batter's box as well. He later hit two balls hard, one for a fliner
out to Gutierrez (not a tough play -- it was right at him) and one for a double
to the right-center alley.
Conor Jackson did nonsense.
Cliff Pennington came out of the game with Bell's palsy, an apparently
temporary paralysis of the face. That's weird and highly unfortunate, but my
sense is that it's not actually threatening so much as just inconvenient. Eric
Sogard came in at short and hit a double down the right-field line, just fair,
in the seventh.
I can't remember the last time I saw Kurt Suzuki do so many good things. The
walk was a four-pitch gift, and the double was a poked liner down the
right-field line that just had enough, but the homer to left was legit,
especially against Brandon League, who's not exactly an elite closer, but who is
pretty good, and who had given up just one bomb in 40+ innings prior on the
Franklin Gutierrez may have also taken a hit away from Scott Sizemore on a fly
to right-center in the second. I noted it as "not outright robbery, but nice job
on a well hit ball," so perhaps an average center-fielder still would have
gotten there. Who knows. These things are impossible to tell.
I've already mentioned Ryan Sweeney and Scott Sizemore bollixing things up for
Trevor Cahill. Outside of a bloop to Josh Willingham in the same inning that a
good left-fielder might have caught, I don't think the A's defense looked too
terrible this time out.
There was a weird play deserving of its own bullet in the fourth inning. With
Mike Carp on second and two out, Casper Wells hit a sharp grounder to Scott
Sizemore. The third-baseman booted it, but the ball skipped high into the air
and was caught by Cliff Pennington in short left-field. Mike Carp rounded third,
but went a little too far, and Pennington immediately noticed. Fortunately,
Sizemore was not hanging his head but moving into position to cover third base
immediately after his error, so Pennington made a swift throw to the bag,
Sizemore turned and laid a tag, Carp did not dive back in, but was too close to
escape Sizemore's pursuit just a few feet away. In the end, the A's got what
they should have had in the first place -- the end of the inning -- but it took
a little creativity to get there.
Ugly came for Trevor Cahill, whose location was not sharp. He left a lot of
pitches up, and that swing-and-miss rate is just pathetic. The walk rate is not
actually bad, on a per-hitter basis, but that shows the folly of using walks as
your only measure of command. You have to be sharp within the strike zone to
be successful in the majors, even against the Mariners, and Cahill was not that.
The defense let him down, sure, but Ryan Sweeney played a single into a triple,
not an out into a triple -- the inning was going to continue, and given the
quality of Cahill's pitches to that point and after that, I'm not confident in
saying the same number of runs wouldn't have scored.
I'd like to tell you something positive, but I've got nothing.
Jordan Norberto, about whom more later today when I finish up the transaction
writeup, didn't have a great debut, allowing his inherited runner to score,
missing the strike zone a lot, and throwing away a pickoff attempt.
His fastball had good velocity, though.
Jerry Blevins, by my count, threw exactly nine strikes and four balls in each
of his two innings. He got three swinging in the sixth, though, all on Casper
Wells, and none in the seventh.
Blevins got away with a near-HBP in the sixth, hitting Adam Kennedy on
the handle of the bat before striking him out with a breaking pitch. No
such luck in the seventh as Ichiro hit an Ichiro Special (TM) bloop
single down the left-field line to bring in Justin Smoak (who had
doubled) from third. It was the most nonsense of hits, but hey, Ichiro's
been doing it all his life.
Brian Fuentes hit Casper Wells on the thigh, clear revenge for Wells ... um
... being named after a ghost, I guess.
Bob Melvin didn't have a lot to work with here. Getting Norberto into a game
in his first contest with the team was nice, but it was also inevitable once the
Mariners went up big. Norberto's not here to be a setup guy.
I'll be curious to see what happens with Cliff Pennington and his face in
regard to the very short bench the A's have. Is it Melvin who's insisting on the
eight-man bullpen? Is he OK with his backup shortstop being ... uh, whoa, who?
This is fun. Suppose Eric Sogard breaks his glasses. (I'm not being funny,
that's the worst thing I can imagine happening to the guy. I wear glasses
myself.) I guess you do: Weeks at short, Sizemore at second, Jackson at third,
Powell at first? LOLfense indeed.
There's a family visit tonight, so it's unclear whether I'll be watching the
game after that happens or whether it'll be too late. I know you're worried