The things that really stick out in my mind about last season—besides failing to make the playoffs again, depressing the hell out of me for another winter, and having yet another fire sale of talent—was the annual offensive ineptitude and the inability of our talented pitching staff to produce shutdown innings when the offense actually bothered to come alive.
It seemed like every single time the offense took the lead or tied the game, the pitching staff was all too anxious to wipe out the work of their teammates. Because of this, the batters seemed to collectively throw up a middle finger and say, “Thanks for screwing that up because that’s all you’re getting out of us,” before returning to their slumber. Despite plenty of new faces on the mound and in the batter’s box, these same issues plagued the A’s yesterday as they lost the game, and the series, to Seattle by a score of 5-3.
After the A’s managed to tie it up in the top of fifth on a three-run homer by Eric Sogard, the Mariners took the lead right back thanks to some shoddy defense.
With one out and Chone Figgins at first after a walk, Dustin Ackley hit a chopper to Jemile Weeks. Instead of doing the smart thing and getting the sure out at first, Weeks attempted to get the lead runner, producing a back-handed flip that was well wide of the bag. Ichiro Suzuki then smacked a double to take a 4-3 lead, and Justin Smoak followed with a tapper back to the mound that was bobbled by Graham Godfrey, allowing another run to score.
Keeping true to the formula of last season, this game was done. The A’s would only muster three baserunners and two hits over the final four innings.
Seattle starter Blake Beaven (1-1) threw seven strong innings, striking out four and walking none. His lone mistake was the homer he surrendered to Sogard. Godfrey (0-2) went five frames, allowing six hits and five runs, three earned, with three strikeouts and a walk. Seattle closer Bradon League earned his fourth save in as many chances.
Having already played the Mariners seven times this young season (and going 2-5 in those games) and faced Felix Hernandez three times, it’s nice to know the A’s won’t see Seattle again until June 25th.
When I started this entry, the A’s were just getting ready to take on the Angels. After typing just a couple of paragraphs, they were already down 3-0 thanks to a first inning three-run homer by Kendrys Morales. The A’s managed to get two runners on with two outs in the top of the fourth, but Kurt Suzuki grounded out to short to end the threat. Awesome.
In other news….
- Joey Devine is out for the season after the team announced last Monday that he needs to undergo Tommy John surgery for a second time. I should’ve talked about this last week, but I kept forgetting to mention it in the flurry of updates. Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery last Tuesday. He’ll obviously miss all of 2012, and since this is his second Tommy John surgery, some believe he may have thrown his last Major League pitch. Although there have been pitchers who have come back from multiple TJ procedures, the list is short and isn’t terribly inspiring: Hong-Chih Kuo, Doug Brocail, Scott Williamson, Al Reyes, Darren Dreifort, Shawn Kelley and Mike Lincoln all had more than one. Jason Isringhausen has gone through the surgery three times, while Jose Rijo had five. I wish him all the best in his recovery, but I don’t think we’ll ever see Devine on a major league mound again.
- It looks as though Lew & Co. may be gearing up for a protracted legal battle as they have brought in trial lawyer Allen Ruby to assist in any future legal proceedings against the Giants as they continue to bicker over the territorial rights issue. Some of you may remember him from representing Barry Bonds in his perjury case. The A’s have also brought land use attorney Cecily Talbert Barclay into the fray as well. Depending on what happens over the next couple of months, these two guys may never even see the inside of a court room to represent the A’s, or they’ll become household names for A’s fans everywhere for a long time to come.
- Earlier today it looked as though the A’s may have finally forced the hand of MLB by putting the battle for territorial rights on the agenda for the owners meetings in May. However, just a couple of hours later Susan Slusser tweeted that requesting to get something on the agenda and actually getting it on there are two different things, and MLB currently has no plans to deal with the issue at the meetings.
- In a bit of sad news, longtime minor league roving instructor Ron Plaza has passed away at the age of 77. Plaza, who was entering his 30th season as minor league roving instructor for the A’s, never made it to the majors in his 12 professional seasons as a player, but coached in the big leagues for eight seasons, including the 1969 season for the Seattle Pilots, their only season in existence before moving to Milwaukee and becoming the Brewers. My condolences go out to his friends and family.