I had high hopes for this game, and the A’s had the long ball working early off the bats of Josh Reddick (ulous) and Kila Ka’aihue. Of course in typical A’s fashion they were of the solo variety, so the 2-0 lead it gave them was far from insurmountable. If it weren’t for a couple well placed Coco Crisp double play balls, the A’s might have been able to add on to their lead, but the struggling CF just can’t seem to do anything right these days. Travis Blackley did exactly what he needed to do, he pitched 5 strong innings and put the A’s in a position to win, but unfortunately the bullpen and home plate umpire Tim McClelland had other ideas.
TURNING POINT: Ryan Cook came into today’s game riding a historic streak of his own, having thrown 23 scoreless innings to start the season, and perhaps the pressure of that streak finally had gotten to the big right hander. He extended the streak to 23.1 innings before the game began to unravel. A Joe Mauer single, and an unlikely stolen base started the rally off. Then after a very questionable strike zone reared its ugly head Josh Willingham walked. This was the point where I think most fans knew the streak was about to end, Cook obviously didn’t have it, and the baseball Gods weren’t there to back him up. Justin Morneau gets credit for snapping the scoreless streak with a “double” down the left field line that was really an ultimate jam shot that fell just a couple feet within the foul line and Collin Cowgill had to run for months to reach the ball as it sat in the grass. Ryan Doumit managed to drive in Willingham with a sacrifice fly to put the Twins up for good.
ON THE HILL: Travis Blackley played the role of spot starter quite admirably today, although he likely won’t get another assuming Brandon McCarthy returns when eligible on June 2. He’s done more than enough to justify staying on the roster though when McCarthy does come back. His 5 innings, allowing just 1 ER on 3 hits and a walk, striking out 3 probably could have been extended another inning, but the A’s chose to play it safe and pull him for Jordan Norberto in the 6th. That turned out to be a bad idea, Norberto eagerly coughed up the first lead the A’s had built, 3-1 at the time, and cost Blackley the chance for a win. After Norberto exited with 0.2 innings on his record, Grant Balfour came in to clean up the mess he had made, Balfour added another clean inning of his own in the 7th. Then came the fateful outing by Ryan Cook, his first bad line of the season was all 2’s, 2 ER on 2 hits and 2 walks, now that he has an ERA it sits at 0.75.
AT THE PLATE: Everyone in the starting lineup reached base one way or another via walk or hit, except for Coco Crisp. It’s hard to say what the problem is with him right now, but it’s safe to say it’s serious. Aside from the ball he hit right back at Matt Capps in the 9th inning, he’s not making solid contact. A day off or two may be what Coco needs to get his mind and his bat right. But on the bright side, the bats did wake up from their week long slumber a little. Notably Collin Cowgill had his second 3 hit game in a row, first time he’s ever done that, his AVG has skyrocketed to .234 and his hustle on the field has not gone unnoticed. The big story has to be the continued power stroke of Josh Reddick, he came just a few feet away from his second multi HR game of 2012, but had to settle for a HR and a triple. Whatever it is he has found in his swing, he needs to keep it locked in because once the cavalry arrives he’ll be in the middle of an order with some guys who may actually be able to hit.
FINAL THOUGHTS: They say bad teams find ways to lose games, and right now the Athletics are doing exactly that. It’s hard to pinpoint a single reason for this swoon, it certainly doesn’t help though that the team fails miserably in RISP situations, or only succeeds in NOOB situations (No One On Base, hence the solo home runs). The battle against the Twins and themselves continues tomorrow evening at Target Field (as noted a few times on Twitter by A’s fans, best TV camera angle for pitching in the league). We’ll get a nice view of Jarrod Parker coming off a strong start agains the Bronx Bombers, he comes in with a 1-2 record and a 3.38 ERA. He’ll take on Eric Sogard (don’t know where to send credit for that joke, but I know I saw it somewhere)… I mean Minnesota native Cole De Vries who will make his first start at Target Field after allowing 3ER on 5 innings in his MLB debut. This is a perfect opportunity for the A’s to take out some frustration against a very inexperienced pitcher who will most definitely be feeling some butterflies in front of his hometown crowd, and I assume a contingent of friends and family, lets hope they can give him nightmares as he realizes his dream.
If you feel like checking out something perhaps a little less depressing, bounce on over to the great Fansided site “Seedlings to Stars” where Wally Fish takes a peek at how some AL West prospects are faring in 2012 in the 2012 Fish Watch: AL West – May Edition.