The Oakland Athletics suffered another blowout loss, as they fell to the Mariners 13-3 behind rookie Zach Neal.
Oakland Athletics fans already knew this was not going to be a good night. Comcast announcers Ray Fosse and Glen Kuiper confirmed it when they began musing on which position player might get to pitch, and it was only the seventh inning.
It really was that bad. The A’s ended up losing 13-3.
I have noticed that, sometimes, the A’s look pretty bad the first time through the lineup, and some young pitcher is looking like Satchel Paige (note: the greatest right-handed pitcher of all time, IMHO). Then, when hitters are seeing the pitcher the second time, the bats come alive.
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That’s exactly what happened on Wednesday night. Unfortunately, it was the Seattle Mariners’ bats that got hot the second time through the lineup.
Zach Neal surrendered a home run to Adam Lind, but managed to get through the first two innings pretty easily. Then in the third inning, the roof caved in. He gave up seven hits and six runs, including Lind’s second home run. It sounds funny to say it, but the damage could have been worse. Yonder Alonso combined with Stephen Vogt to turn an amazing double play. It looked like Neal might escape the inning with giving up only two runs. Unfortunately, the A’s just could not get that last out before Lind and the Mariners did a lot damage.
Neal missed with too many of his pitches, and the veteran Mariners hitters made him pay. It was a hard game to watch, but A’s fans should not be too concerned about Neal’s ignominious performance A lot of the Athletics’ genuine major league pitchers are getting knocked out early in the game.
Also, Neal was forced into this start because of the injury to Sonny Gray. The A’s currently have seven pitchers on the DL. Hopefully, Gray will make a rapid recovery and Neal can return to Nashville to hone his craft a bit more. Apparently, he has a problem with the third inning, even in the minors.
A quick word on stealing bases…Leonys Martin hurt himself in Wednesday night’s game trying to steal second. The A’s won on Monday night, in part, because of two (though it really should have been three) errors by the Mariners’ shortstop Chris Taylor. Taylor was playing only because Ketel Marte hurt himself trying to steal second. As A’s fans know, Oakland outfield Josh Reddick also recently hurt himself trying to steal second.
Moneyball enthusiasts frown on the stolen base because it is a high risk/low reward baseball strategy. Unless a player has tremendous speed, like Billy Burns, trying to steal is usually a losing proposition that often wastes a game’s most precious commodity: an out. Statistics bear this out. When you factor in the risk of injury, stealing a base becomes an increasingly bad strategy.
It is frustrating when the A’s are not scoring many runs. Fans want to see the stolen base or a perfectly executed hit-and-run. “Let’s try a suicide squeeze!” Be aware that teams that play small-ball actually reduce their chances to win. They also increase their chance of injury.
It does no good to dwell on the past. The A’s dropped two out of three games on the road to Seattle when they should have won the series. The weather in the Bay Area is heating up this weekend, and I look for the A’s to start getting healthy on this home stand. The A’s also get Josh Phegley back on Friday, just in case the pitching has another utterly forgettable day.