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….


An Unusual Opening Day

This was not your typical Oakland A’s Opening Day. For one thing, they won, something they hadn’t done in their first game of the season since 2004. Secondly, they scored runs, something they hadn’t done on Opening day since 2012 (though not facing Felix Hernandez helped). And then there was Sonny Gray taking a no-hitter into the 8th inning. Things that don’t usually happen happened!

635639653214593588-468768564It was nice to see the A’s come out swinging. We are so used to be lulled to sleep by the lack of offense on Opening Day, but Ben Zobrist wasted no time in getting the A’s on the board with a two-run homer in his first regular season at-bat as an A. Stephen Vogt added a no doubter three-run shot later and the A’s offense pretty much cruised, while Sonny cruised on the mound, with some slick defensive assistance by Brett Lawrie and Ike Davis. The only stress as a viewer was for Sonny’s potential no hitter, rather than the prospect of winning and losing.

Now, I definitely wanted to see the no-hitter happen, but at the same time I feared that Bob Melvin was going to have to make a Really Tough Decision, considering Gray’s pitch count and that it was the first game of the season. No-hitters are hard to get so I wasn’t crestfallen when Ryan Rua poked a base hit into right field to lead off the 8th inning. Now Melvin could make a guilt-free call to the bullpen and we could end the night with a nice lopsided victory over the Texas Rangers, and we did.

And now that we’ve got Opening Day over with, it’s on with the daily grind. For me, that’s not going to involve staying up late for any more west coast night games, but instead watching archived games the next morning while trying to avoid social media spoilers. Technology is sweet. Go A’s!