By Jason Wojciechowski on August 19, 2011 at 10:10 AM
This one was never close. Most 7-0 games aren't, but sometimes, at least, the team that's shut out threatens. The A's, though, sent 19 batters to the plate over the last six innings.1 Scott Sizemore's leadoff single in the fifth was the last baserunner the A's had. The A's had two close calls on offense after that (Jemile Weeks's hard liner toward left that Yunel Escobar snared and Brandon Allen's grounder down the first-base line grabbed by a diving Mark Teahen), but even if those hits fall in, then what? Nobody else hit the ball hard.
Hell, even the A's hits were weak -- Cliff Pennington's "double" in the third was a blooper that Eric Thames should not have dived for and Sizemore's single was fisted.2 Brandon Allen scalded his single, but even that was a grounder. A foot more to the right and it's a 3-6-3 double play.
The Blue Jays, by contrast, waited for Trevor Cahill to leave pitches up and blasted away. Their second-inning run wasn't a huge discredit, as Colby Rasmus started off with a double down the 1B line that Brandon Allen just couldn't get, and Brett Lawrie3 knocked him in with a bloop to left just out of the reach of Cliff Pennington. From there on, though, the A's have nothing to complain about, luck-wise -- the Jose Bautista double, Edwin Encarnacion single, and Colby Rasmus homer in the fourth that gave Toronto a 4-0 lead were all scalded on bad pitches. Brandon Allen's error in the fifth helped the Jays to another run,4 but the pitch that actually allowed the run on a single from Adam Lind? Another bad one.
All of this would make any player understandably sad, but I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone look more down in the dumps on the bench. Bob Melvin was over talking to him while Bruce Billings pitched, but I couldn't tell what sort of speech Melvin was giving him -- "Get your head out of your ass"? "It's ok, son, everyone has bad games, and you're a good pitcher"? "I heard there's this great sandwich spot in Richmond, you want to hit it tomorrow"?
Billings, by the way, looked pretty good. (He's pitched in one game before, but I missed that one.) He had a nice sharp-breaking slider reminiscent of the good ones that Michael Wuertz snaps off when he's going well. There's a reason he racked up 522 strikeouts in 520 1/3 innings in the minor leagues, I suppose.
Brandon Allen, just to give the man another shout-out, looks really good on popups in foul territory. There's a huge amount of ground to cover in Oakland, but he went over all of it on a play in the top of the ninth, running near-full-out toward the stands and making a catch right next to the wall, all while managing not to crash in and possibly injure himself. I keep saying it, but: the man's an athlete, not just a hitter. I have no confidence in my ability to judge the outfield defense of a first baseman, but I can say I'd sure rather see Allen in left field than Chris Carter.
Stat of the day
Cliff Pennington, number two hitter, has a .259 True Average. True Average (TAv), if you're not familiar with it, is Baseball Prospectus's measure of offense, calculated, at bottom, in nearly the same way as the now-quite-popular wOBA (i.e. both are based on linear weights -- basically, every offensive event has a run value based on how much those events have been worth in the past (e.g. 0.6 runs for a double, 1.5 runs for a homer, etc.) and these events are totaled up and average over plate appearances) except that where the Fangraphs version of wOBA does not include adjustments for park and league, TAv does. TAv is scaled to look like a batting average, and .270 is defined to be the average, so Pennington is currently a bit below the league average hitter overall, not horrible, but not what you might expect to see from the guy who's going to get the second-highest number of plate appearances in a game, either.
If you're disinclined to do the math yourself, that's one batter over the minimum. ↩
Ray Fosse and Glen Kuiper insist on pronouncing "Lawrie" like the woman's name "Laurie" (or "Lori"). I assume they have a reason for doing this rather than saying it as I would (more like "LAW-ree"), but every time they do it, the image flashes through my head of them disliking the guy and deciding they're going to subtly mispronounce his name. ↩
Allen flat-out dropped a throw from Trevor Cahill -- I'm still not sure how/why. ↩