The Oakland Athletics were eight outs away from putting their recent 3-7 road-trip behind them. Eight outs away from rewarding starting pitcher Jesse Hahn for a stellar performance after being roughed up in the first inning. Most importantly, eight outs away from winning a ballgame.
After trailing 2-0 to Chicago heading into the bottom of the fourth inning, Josh Phegley led off the frame with a solo-shot to left field to put the Athletics on the board. Three consecutive walks to Billy Burns, Eric Sogard, and Coco Crisp had the A’s back in business — with two away, bringing the scorching hot Josh Reddick to the plate. Reddick ultimately took a first-pitch slider from Rodon and watched a 95 mile-an-hour four-seam fastball go by, before connecting on 1-1 pitch that eventually made its way to the right-center field warning track. Burns scored easily, so did Sogard, and Crisp was right behind them. For the first time in this game — the A’s had a lead, a 4-2 lead to be exact, all while Reddick and the Oakland faithful stood on their feet — after stranding 14 runners on base against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday.
The A’s added on in the fifth with an RBI single from Sogard; and the game looked to be in the bag once Hahn recorded the first out in the top of the seventh.
That was until the bullpen took over…
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With one out setup man Fernando Rodriguez — whose proven to be quite effective since his promotion from Nashville, induced what appeared to be a routine 6-4-3 double play off the bat of center fielder Adam Eaton. Shortstop Marcus Semien got in front of the ball, took his time before throwing to second, and Sogard did the same until Eaton was supposedly called safe at first-base to keep the inning going — and going, and going. A single, hit-by-pitch, and two doubles put a five-spot on the board for the White Sox — all coming with two outs in the inning.
This game all seemed but over until pinch-hitter Stephen Vogt stood in the batter’s box, taking a six-pitch walk from reliever Zach Duke with two away. Crisp, coming off a slow start and recorded 1 hit in his first 32 plate appearances this season, smoked a high-fastball off the left-center field wall. Immediately, the thought of Vogt scoring from first was certain; that was until three good relay throws from Eaton, shortstop Alexi Ramirez, and first baseman Jose Abreu caught Vogt napping off third-base.
Third base coach Mike Gallego had all intention of sending Vogt home as soon as Crisp’s drive ricocheted off the outfield wall. He was waving him in like their was no tomorrow and put up the stop sign after Vogt was about three feet past the bag. Abreu aware of this blunder made the quick throw to third, and placed Oakland’s backstop in a pickle for the last out of the game.
This game should have been over going into the seventh inning with a 6-2 lead. But for some strange reason — the A’s let another game slip right through their finger tips. Going into the 2015 season, many journalists, analysts, and radio personnel were uncertain of the club’s offensive production. The bullpen and defense was supposed to be the strength, but has ultimately accounted for more than half of Oakland’s losses thus far. With a major league worse 13-24 record, how much longer can the Billy Beane and the A’s wait for Sean Doolittle and Ben Zobrist to come off the disabled list? When is it time to say, “enough is enough” and cash in on the likes of Scott Kazmir, Reddick, Vogt, Zobrist, and dare I say Sonny Gray?
Usually I’m more optimistic than the next guy and still believe the A’s can turn it around. Their only 7.5 games from securing a Wild-Card spot at this point; and I can’t help but think back to the slow starts of 2002 and 2012.
Let me hear from you A’s fans! Is it time for Beane to cash in his chips and receive some highly-touted prospects? Or hold on for just a bit longer — hoping his ball club can turn it around?