I was preparing to write a recap for a game where the A’s offense kept the A’s in this game, and despite repeated comeback attempts by the D’Backs, held on for a big win in the desert. Brian Fuentes had other ideas, with 2 outs he walked Chris Young, gave up a single to Aaron Hill, and as the sense of doom enveloped all A’s fans, Ryan Roberts…. the guy they call “Tatman” smoked a 2-1 pitch into the bleachers in left center field to end it. I can’t say I didn’t see at the very least a blown save coming as Fuentes allowed the second baserunner, I figured a 2 run double would follow at minimum. I guess the way Ryan Roberts walked off tonight was the equivalent of just ripping that bandage off in one quick motion, at least we didn’t have to suffer for long.
TURNING POINT: There were many turning points during this wild and crazy (and long) game. But for me, the biggest moment wasn’t the 6 run 2nd inning the A’s posted, but the 3 run 2nd inning Arizona responded with. One of the biggest thorns in the sides of teams that struggle is the inability to convert the all important shut down inning. Most headlines tonight will say the A’s blew a 6-0 lead, which is true, but in reality this game feels like that 6-0 lead never really existed, because it was cut in half before anyone even realized it. A Willie Bloomquist single and a Jason Kubel 2 run homer made it 6-3 after just 2 innings. In a live ballpark like Chase Field, it was pretty clear the scoring had just begun.
ON THE HILL: Tommy Milone‘s road struggles returned tonight, he never had his command, leading either to walks or solid contact being made all over the place. Milone miraculously made it through 5 innings, which would have qualified for the win, he coughed up 4 runs on 9 hits while walking 2 and striking out 5. Sean Doolittle followed Milone and the dominance that he displayed in his debut was not present tonight, he gave up 2 runs on 2 hits while only retiring 2 batters. Grant Balfour came on to allow the 2nd run charged to Doolittle before retiring the side, he added a clean inning of his own. Ryan Cook came on to pitch a clean 8th inning while striking out the side. Then came Brian Fuentes, he retired the first two batters, one on a sparkling diving play by Cliff Pennington that has to be seen to be believed, a walk and a hit followed by the fateful home run led to a 0.2 inning outing with 2 hits, 3 ER, and a walk without any strikeouts.
AT THE PLATE: The bats were certainly alive today, so its a shame that effort was in vain. There were hits-a-plenty tonight, 16 to be exact, tying a season high. Josh Reddick, Seth Smith, and Brandon Inge each collected 3 of their own with Inge and Smith adding a walk also. Smith’s night was highlighted by a 2 run homer against an old friend named Craig Breslow (And a stunning robbery of Aaron Hill’s home run ball) that at the time felt like would be of great importance, little did we know what it would lead to. Coco Crisp also continued to hit the ball with some authority after his solid game Thursday afternoon, collecting 2 more hits. Not to be outdone, A’s starter Tommy Milone added a 2 run double which snapped a lengthy 0-fer streak for A’s pitchers.
FINAL THOUGHTS: It has become pretty evident recently that Ryan Cook will ultimately be the closer for the Oakland Athletics. His dominance in the set up role has put him in a position to ascend to the top of the bullpen. Meanwhile the two men who’ve been given the opportunity to close games for the A’s have struggled horribly in that role. It seems like a pretty simple decision to make, and at this point what do they have to lose? This is becoming yet another lost Athletics season, so why not give him a shot? If the A’s brass wants to win games, they need to show us they want to and inset Ryan Cook as the team’s closer. As I feel like I’ve said too many times this year, the beauty of this game is that there is another one tomorrow, a chance to erase the horror of tonight’s game. It will be a most intriguing matchup, as starters who were traded for one another face off. The A’s will send rookie Jarrod Parker (2-2, 2.40 ERA) to the hill against former Athletics Opening Day starter Trevor Cahill (3-5, 3.45 ERA). Cahill has been his usual inconsistent self so far this season, but is coming off his best outing with the Diamondbacks, a complete game shutout against the San Diego Padres last Sunday. If anybody knows Cahill’s weaknesses its the A’s, and vice versa the Diamondbacks will know Jarrod Parker’s shortcomings. Taking that under consideration this game has the makings of another slugfest, but I expect both pitchers to be on their game. Let’s just hope for better results.