8-12

Well, at least the A’s didn’t lose yesterday. You can’t lose when you don’t play!

Unfortunately that is where we’re at with the A’s right now. They have dropped five of their last six, including a full weekend three-game sweep at home by the Houston Astros. It wasn’t pretty – in fact it was downright ugly at times. Their four errors in the three games versus Houston added to their American League leading 20 on the season, and they dropped an extra inning game Friday night despite two comeback efforts that came up just short. Kendall Graveman got torched on Saturday and was subsequently sent back to AAA the next day, while the A’s blew a lead in the ninth to drop the Sunday game, making them 0-7 in day games so far.

So is the solution no more day games? Stop playing the Astros? Stop using the bullpen? I guess all those things would help given what we’ve seen, but unfortunately we can’t do that. Despite some already bad losses, the thing to keep in mind is that it’s still early. We’re also without Coco Crisp, Sean Doolittle, and most recently Ben Zobrist, and those guys will be back to contribute throughout much of the season. Hopefully.

There are also bad things that are just nonsensical and unsustainable, like the aforementioned day games record. There is nothing about that but bad luck that just so happens to be during day games. They A’s are also 0-8 in games decided by two runs or fewer, and 0-3 in extra innings. Their run differential is +11, tied for 10th in MLB. Throw out that icky 14-1 loss to the Angels last week and that run differential is even more skewed. Basically the A’s are getting lots of bad luck 20 games into the season. Bullpen guys will blow games sometimes, but a lot of the time they won’t, because they’re good at baseball. This is the kind of stuff that should balance itself out over time. Hopefully. Go A’s…..

An Interesting Weekend in K.C.

I was not looking forward to the A’s having to return to the place where horrific things went down at the end of last season. But I wasn’t expecting this. But at least we’re not talking about that Wild Card game anymore, right?

Alcides EscobarI’m not going to defend Brett Lawrie’s slide into Alicdes Escobar in the Friday night game. It was late and it was dangerous. However, I don’t think he was trying to actually injury Escobar – he was trying to break up the play. Whether or not there was the possibility of a double play is irrelevant. There was no way for Lawrie to know that as he barreled toward second base in the middle of baseball action. But regardless of the game situation, he made a poor decision to slide late and into Escobar. He also apologized for it. We all do stuff like that in real life. We make mistakes and then we apologize for them.

The unspoken rule in baseball is an eye for an eye. You do something to my guy and you get hit. It’s kind of silly but it’s expected. We all knew that Lawrie would end up wearing one sometime this weekend, and it happened Saturday when Yordano Ventura drilled Lawrie with a pitch in the elbow after the A’s jumped to a 5-0 lead. Lawrie walked to first base, Ventura was tossed, matter closed. Well, it should have been, but it wasn’t.

Brett_Lawrie_1280_nfaaolsr_l2y9n1j9At the beginning of Sunday’s game, CSN California showed Lawrie and Lorenzo Cain smiling and shaking hands before the game, to indicate that the A’s and Royals were all friends again. This game would go smoothly and without incident, right? Only it was the complete opposite of that. It went from a little tiff to downright ugly. Scott Kazmir hit Cain in the foot with a pitch in the first inning and it got the Royals riled up. Now I don’t believe Kazmir was trying to hit Cain. I know fans tend to side with their own teams in these matters, but I don’t think this is that. It was the first inning in a game in which the A’s used their long man the previous night for 3 2/3 innings. Their bullpen is shaky at best and they don’t have another day off for seven more days. Basically, they could not afford to lose their starting pitcher three batters into Sunday’s game. Pitch location or not, there was just no reason for them to be trying to hit someone.

Ned_Yost_1280_gmlu9lzs_4v95xnkzWarnings were issued to both benches, though apparently several members of the Royals thought Kazmir shouldn’t have gotten off so easily and three people, including manager Ned Yost, were ejected. Again, the matter should have been over still, but Kelvin Herrera apparently wasn’t over it, as he threw a 100 m.p.h. pitch behind Lawrie in the 8th inning and was immediately ejected. Now he could have made a case that it was not intentional, but then he had to go and gesture to Lawrie and point at his head. That’s baseball sign language for, “Next time I’m going to drill you in the head.” Not good. Not good at all, ever.

So tensions remain high as the A’s leave Kansas City and head to Los Angeles to finish the rest of season’s first road trip. The A’s and Royals will meet again in June in Oakland, and I really hope that by then enough time will have passed that there won’t be any more of this drama. If there is any drama that series, it will be embarrassing for all involved.

And speaking of things being embarrassing, how about the bullpen coughing up yet another late lead? It’s still so early in the season, but that’s becoming a  trend already. How about less drama, fewer bullpen meltdowns and more winning in the coming week. Go A’s…

An Emotional Roller Coaster Already

April baseball is not supposed to be like this. We’re just supposed to be happy that baseball season is here. There shouldn’t be agonizing, crushing losses. Sure, there will be losses, but not the ones that feel like a punch to the stomach. But that’s what we got twice this weekend. And both of them featured Nelson Cruz home runs at inopportune moments for the A’s.

635644027747770902-ben-zobristFriday night was an easy, breezy time as the A’s battered Mariners pitching for 12 runs. They would have many opportunities in the Saturday and Sunday games to put up nearly that many runs, but squandered opportunities and breaks that just wouldn’t go their way just seemed to take over. Saturday they had two runners thrown out at home, including one that would have been the game winner in the 10th. They also had a replay review on a “neighborhood play” at second base go against them, which prolonged the inning in which Cruz hit a three-run homer.

Then on Sunday they had a rare good game against Felix Hernandez, scoring three runs off him before the Mariners surged ahead with seven runs to take a 7-3 lead into the bottom of the 9th. The A’s came back in the 9th though, scoring four runs including the game-tying, two-out, pinch hit single by Eric Sogard. We had to let the Mariners have another turn at bat though and Cruz launched on over left field fence in the top of the 10th to put the Mariners up 8-7 and they’d win the game by that score.

So, ugh. I guess I am glad that baseball is back. But it’s only April, and these games are already gnawing at me. That’s just the way it is though. That’s what I get for loving a team. Go A’s….