It would be a lie if I told you I was shocked by this result. Even when the Yankees don’t batter the A’s pitchers around, they still find a way to win by simply pitching to the A’s hitters. It doesn’t appear that it takes much to get a member of the Oakland Athletics out these days. Hiroki Kuroda has had a difficult first season with New York so far, but today he showed the ability that made him an attractive signing by the Yankees. Only 5 Athletics managed to reach base during the 8 scoreless innings Kuroda pitched today, and only once did they truly threaten to score.
TURNING POINT: After an RBI double off the bat of the newly hot swinging Mark Teixeira the A’s had their one true shot to even up the score. Coco Crisp singled to lead off the inning and stole 2nd after Josh Reddick flew out. Seth Smith walked to put the potential tying run at 1st with just 1 out. Within just 6 pitches the threat had been neutralized, Kila Ka’aihue struck out and Josh Donaldson flied a first pitch sinker to Nick Swisher in right field. At that point it was painfully clear that the A’s did not have a rally in their arsenal. And with only a 2 out single by Josh Reddick in the 9th, they proved they certainly didn’t.
ON THE HILL: Tommy Milone had what could be categorized as a solid outing. He did not exhibit the same level of dominance that he had in previous starts in Oakland, but he did nothing to discourage A’s fans either. This was a textbook hard luck loss, Milone battled all day, fighting through 6.2 innings while allowing 2 ER on 8 hits with 2 walks and 3 strikeouts. Ryan Cook came in to finish the 7th inning after the Teixeira double knocked Milone from the game, extending his scoreless innings streak to 23. Grant Balfour pitched a 1-2-3 top of the 8th and Brian Fuentes did the same in the 9th. After a couple rough games, the A’s pitching staff returned to form today, unfortunately the bats weren’t there to help them out.
AT THE PLATE: The hitting woes continued in ways the A’s probably couldn’t have even imagined themselves. They only managed to get a runner into scoring position during the failed “rally” in the 7th inning. The bottom line is this, no matter how you measure it, a lineup containing only 1 batter with a batting average above .250, and many hovering around .200, and a few well below, is not a lineup that can succeed.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This sweep at the hands of the Yankees, and this week altogether was a major gut punch to the A’s for 2012. Before the season started many experts had the A’s destined for the cellar, some going so far to say they were capable of losing 100 games. I never thought that was a real possibility, but if they play like they have this week, they could make a run. They scored a total of 8 runs in the two series against the Angels and the Yankees, so they’re lucky they didn’t go 0-6. Brandon Inge is expected back for tomorrow’s game against the Twins in Minneapolis, Manny Ramirez sometime in the near future will arrive in Oakland, and Yoenis Cespedes could return by Friday in Kansas City. If Inge can recapture even a shred of the magic that was “Ingesanity” a couple weeks ago, it will be a very welcome sight. After showing little to no ability to get out major league hitters Graham Godfrey was sent back to Sacramento, he was slated to start tomorrow’s matinee against the Twins, so the Aussie Travis Blackley will pick up the start in his place. It’s Blackley’s first start in the show in about 5 years, so anything beyond 5 innings and keeping the A’s in the game will be appreciated. The Twins will send rookie starter Scott Diamond who has pitched well in his young career, earning a 3-1 record with a 1.78 ERA. The A’s need to find a way to come crashing out of the gates after what will surely be a long and quiet flight. Perhaps a little time on the road can get this season steered back in the right direction.