Balfour Implodes as A’s Finally Lose to Astros
By Sean Davis
Grant Balfour was a ticking time bomb. Not just in the sense that he is a little hot tempered, and likes to hurl around expletives while he’s on the mound, but in the sense that at one point Balfour would explode and break his streak of 44 consecutive saves in grand fashion. Well, tonight was the night the clock hit zero, and Grant Balfour along with a lot of poor defense saw fit to give the Houston Astros a victory they so desperately wanted.
Jul 23, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros third baseman Matt Dominguez (30) is congratulated by Justin Maxwell (44) after hitting a home run during the ninth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
It appeared that the Athletics were poised to go 11-0 on the season versus the doormats of the AL West after Brandon Moss deposited a 2-run home run in the second deck in right field to break a 2-2 tie in the top of the 8th inning. But after stealing a win on Monday night, they simply wouldn’t be able to do so a second night in a row.
The battle of the Jarro(e)d’s was a good one indeed, as the two matched wits for 7 strong innings. Each of them surrendered 2 runs, but only 1 of them was earned for each as their defenses let them down. In the case of Jarrod Parker though, it was his own error that brought home a run when he airmailed Brandon Moss at first base on a dribbler up the first base line that allowed a run to come across the plate. The other run for the Astros came when Jason Castro drove in Jonathan Villar with an RBI single in the bottom of the 1st inning.
The A’s got one of their runs on an error by Matt Dominguez in the top of the 1st, and on a double play the hard way that allowed Coco Crisp to score before the final out of the inning was recorded. Both came off the bat of Brandon Moss.
Jarrod Parker continued his run of quality outings with his 7 innings of work, he allowed 5 hits, 2 walks, and struck out 4 while giving up 2 runs (1 earned). His ERA on the season is down to 3.79.
For Balfour, he was off his game from the get-go. After allowing an infield single to start the frame, he battled Matt Dominguez to a full count. Watching the game, I had a feeling of dread as Balfour delivered the pitch, and Dominguez took advantage of a fastball left up in the zone. It was an impressive shot that went out to the deep part of the ballpark, it was indeed a big boy home run. Dominguez is developing as something of an A’s killer, having already logged a multi home run game this year against them. Jonathan Villar doubled, and would score when Derek Norris tried to pick off Jose Altuve at first base after being walked. The ball skirted away from Brandon Moss and Villar would be able to beat the tag by Norris as the A’s tried to nab him at the plate.
Without a doubt it was a frustrating loss, and one that a team like the A’s should not have to deal with. The fact of the matter is this though, they have committed 6 errors in the first two games of this series, you can’t expect to win games when your defense is that poor. Lucky for them, they get a chance to atone for this loss in quick fashion in the series finale tomorrow morning. A.J. Griffin (8-7, 3.82 ERA) takes the hill against the talk of many trade rumors Bud Norris (6-9, 3.91 ERA) in the rubber match of the final series in Houston between these two teams.