A’s Lay An Egg in Series Opener Vs. Angels
By Sean Davis
In the case of tonights game versus the Los Angeles Angels there’s bad news, and then there’s slightly less than bad news. The bad news is Angels ace Jered Weaver pitched a complete game 4 hit shutout against the A’s. The slightly less than bad news is the fact that Weaver has been at the top of his game in 2012 and may be the leading candidate for the Cy Young Award with a 15-1 record with a 2.13 ERA. Like it or not the guy is truly one of the best in the game right now, and tonight he proved it. So while it wasn’t exactly fun to see the A’s victimized in the 2nd complete game shutout of this home stand (The other being James Shields last Tuesday), they can take solace in the fact that Weaver is dominating everyone right now. Look at the bright side, they didn’t get no-hit!
TURNING POINT: Jarrod Parker wasn’t at his sharpest by any stretch of the imagination, but he at least limited the damage to two innings tonight. For most of the game the A’s trailed by a 2-0 deficit established in the 2nd inning, and as Parker tried to battle through the 7th inning he faced adversity once again. After inducing a groundout from Howard “Don’t Call Me Howie” Kendrick, Parker surrendered the 3rd base hit from fresh off the DL Erick Aybar and the 2nd single from Chris Iannetta to put 2 on with 1 out. The two runners were moved to 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs on a Mike Trout ground ball to the right side that he nearly beat out. Then grizzled veteran Torii Hunter came up in a clutch 2 out situation and delivered what many deemed to be the knockout blow with a solid single up the middle to drive in Aybar and Iannetta. The Angels led 4-0 and with Weaver cruising this game was all but done.]
ON THE HILL: Jarrod Parker had major trouble finding the strike zone tonight, and for the most part the Angels had trouble making him pay for it. His line of 6.2 innings, 9 hits and 4 ER, with 1 walk and 6 strikeouts certainly could have been even uglier if the Angels had capitalized on his wildness. He did throw 58 of his 98 pitches for strikes, but earlier in the game he was right around 50% on balls versus strikes percentage until he got in a mini groove in the middle innings. Pat Neshek took over in the 7th inning and retired the side on a strikeout after hitting Albert Pujols with a pitch.. Pedro Figueroa handled the final 2 innings on just 1 hit and 2 walks with 2 strikeouts. The bullpen as a whole should be fairly well rested now that they’ve had 2 full days off with the exception of the 2 batters faced by Neshek.
AT THE PLATE: There certainly isn’t much to talk about regarding the A’s with the lumber tonight, they got owned by one of baseball’s best. Only Derek Norris, Brandon Moss, and Brandon Inge reached base tonight with base hits. Inge did have 2 hits including a double and the first hit of the night for the A’s. Everyone else in the A’s lineup put up nothing but zeroes tonight.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The A’s are out of a playoff spot for the first time in some time having fallen behind the Angels in the AL West and wild card standings. It’s not time to panic just yet because there is still a lot of baseball to be played, but it seems abundantly clear that it is time to recognize that the tidal wave of momentum that fueled the best July the Athletics franchise has ever seen is gone. I’ve written over the last couple days about the fact that the bullpen and the shortstop position need upgrades and soon. Eric Sogard simply is not a Major League shortstop, he seems like a good guy but character isn’t going to win games. Adam Rosales has more business being in Oakland than Sogard, but he’s a bench player. I believe Billy Beane will not sit by and watch this go on, hopefully I’m right. Tomorrow night the A’s will try to stop this streak and even up this series against the Angels starter everyone in the 510 loves to hate CJ Wilson (9-7, 3.27 ERA), the veteran Bartolo Colon takes the hill for the A’s with a 8-8 record and an ERA of 3.55. Nothing would take the sting out of a complete game shutout like knocking around the straight edge lefty Wilson.