By Jason Wojciechowski on April 13, 2015 at 9:42 PM
A's 8, Astros 1
WP: Scott Kazmir (6 IP, 6 H+BB, 1 R, 8 K)
Homers: Brett Lawrie (1), Billy Butler (1), Marcus Semien (1)
Standings: First place in the AL West, would face winner of Detroit vs. (winner of Tampa Bay vs. Toronto) in the ALDS
Another day, another blowout. I don't understand this team at all. They're going to finish .500 with the best run differential in history. Their current differential of +24 trails only the 7-0 Royals and the 6-1 Tigers, though it's worth noting, in talking about extremes, that the sadly pitiful Twins are -29. What a division, that AL Central.
We'll wait for the StatCast data, but I'm convinced that Billy Butler's batted ball velocity is going to be higher than anybody else's on the team. Certainly higher than Stephen Vogt's, who it seems hits a pop blooper every single time he comes to the plate. Even when he homers, it feels like a long blooper. Butler, though. He's just a flat-out dang hitter, man.
Scott Kazmir looked about how he always looked: good, but with a side of "why's he finishing so weird, is he hurt, I hope he's not hurt, did he just grab ... no that's just his gum, okay, whew."
Scott Feldman, by contrast, made me wonder how on earth he's a big-league pitcher. I couldn't have hit him, because I'm not even an independent league–quality hitter, but the location, movement, and velocity Feldman brought made me half convinced I was wrong.
Marcus Semien's homer was, as I said on Twitter, completely hilarious. The ball tailed in on him and he took a sort of defensive cricket hack, just trying to make sure his wicket was safe. (I don't know how to play cricket.) The result? An easy homer flying out to the short porch in left field. It's entirely possible that Semien got the ball so square that it would have gone out of any yard, weird hack or no, but it's also possible that was a lazy fly out in 28 other parks and a Wallball single in Fenway.
I'm not sure about Semien yet overall. I can't get a read on him. I can't get a read on how I feel about him. My own thoughts and opinions are a mystery to me.
Brett Lawrie's homer was very impressive. He crushed the ball, but the slow motion replay actually looked like he put a B+ swing on. I'm no swing analyst, but there was something in his posture at the point of contact that made me think it wasn't the best hack he's ever taken.
Ben Zobrist was magical, smashing hits through/over the shift twice. "Screw your shift" is always a fun game to play. He also almost got thrown out at third base on a fly ball to George Springer because he didn't realize the ball was arriving as quickly as it did -- he saw Luis Valbuena get pulled off the bag by the throw and started to coast a little earlier than he should have, speeding up and taking a last giant step at the end to just get in ahead of the tag. Weird play, but he seemed amused by it, as well he should.
Carl Steward wrote a piece arguing that the A's bullpen is presently a weakness, and it's hard to disagree. I like Dan Otero fine, but he's hardly the model setup man; he's a lot easier to like if he's the "look how good this bullpen is! Dan Otero has pitched crazy well but he's still only in middle relief!" guy rather than your second-best reliever. I'm comfortable with Eric O'Flaherty and Tyler Clippard (early roughness notwithstanding) but the rest of the 'pen has some upside and some downside -- it's not the most obviously solid group around. Ryan Cook turning into a pumpkin is really not a good look for anyone involved.
My not-cousin Asher Wojciechowski pitched in the game for Houston, coming in out of the bullpen and then being optioned after the game, even though he was set to start tomorrow. Former Baby Athletic Brad Peacock will pitch instead. Me, I'm just glad we got Wojciechowski's appearance out of the way.
A fun thing about Jesse Chavez out of the bullpen is that he throws 94.