It was former 49ers head coach Mike Singletary who once said, “I’m not a moral victory type of guy.” He also wasn’t much for getting actual victories either, but I share his sentiment about not enjoying “moral victories.” If my team loses, I’m not going to be happy about it at all. It’s not going to completely wreck my day either, but I don’t try to look for any silver lining after the A’s drop a game. I just process the result, and reassure myself and others that they’ll get it right tomorrow.
With that being said, I actually have to admit that I was encouraged by the effort the team put forth last night. Down by a score of 8-1 in the bottom of the fourth, the A’s crawled their way back into the game on the strength of five RBIs from Josh Donaldson, but the deficit proved to be too large as the A’s dropped the first contest of a three-game series to the Giants 8-6.
On the hill for the A’s was rookie pitcher Jarrod Parker, making just his fifth start for the green and gold. It would be the shortest start of his young career.
After pitching a clean first inning he absolutely lost all traction in the second. Parker walked Angel Pagan to lead off the inning, and he was brought home to score on a Brandon Belt single after swiping second. Belt would come in to score two batters later thanks to Joaquin Arias sac fly to make it 2-0.
Donaldson would get the A’s on the board in the top of the third by smashing a solo shot to left center, but the Giants came right back in their half of the frame.
After Gregor Blanco walked to lead off, Brandon Crawford doubled to center to bring him home. Melky Cabrera then laid down a very unexpected bunt for a single, and Pagan drew a walk to load the bases. Parker’s night was done after walking Belt to bring in a run, failing to even get one out in the inning.
Jerry Blevins relieved Parker and got the first out of the inning on a Hector Sanchez sac fly, making it 5-1 in favor of the Giants. After an Arias strikeout, Emmanuel Burriss was intentionally walked to load the bases and bring Barry Zito to the plate, no doubt a much easier out to get. However, Blevins wanted to stay in the theme of the night, with A’s pitchers issuing nine walks total, and he walked Zito to bring in another run.
The fact that Zito drew a walk isn’t what pisses me off the most. It’s the fact that in his first two at-bats of the night, he managed to get ahead in the count 3-0 both times. I know that as an American League team the A’s aren’t used to facing pitchers in the box, but unless it’s a decent hitting pitcher like Carlos Zambrano in there, you really only have to fire fastballs right down the middle and dare the guy to swing. Thankfully, Blevins would recover to strike out Blanco to end the inning.
The Giants added two more in the fourth on a sac fly by Belt and a RBI double by Sanchez, making it an 8-1 ballgame. I was cursing myself for not having any beer on hand to drown my sorrows in.
The A’s would get one back in the top of fifth on an RBI double by Donaldson to bring home Daric Barton to make it 8-2.
In the bottom of the fifth, Zito drew a walk from Pedro Figueroa, and I began contemplating how much it would hurt to punch my TV. Somehow, the A’s made it out of the inning unscathed.
Jemile Weeks tripled to lead off the sixth and was brought in on a single by Cliff Pennington, making it 8-3. Zito was relieved by Steve Edlefsen after striking out Josh Reddick. Edlefsen got Jonny Gomes to line out to center for the second out, but Kurt Suzuki and Daric Barton would single to load the bases and bring up Donaldson.
Coming into the game, Donaldson was batting a robust .082 with two RBIs. In fact, my friend Will and I were talking about his struggles before the game, and he vowed to buy me some beers if Donaldson hadn’t raised his average above .100 by the time the weekend is over. Looks like I won’t be getting those tasty brews.
On a 1-2 count, Donaldson lined a double into left center, clearing the bases and giving the A’s new life with a 8-6 score. Unfortunately, that would be all the offense the green and cold could muster on the night.
Santiago Casilla, the former Athletic and San Francisco’s new closer with Brian Wilson out for the season, pitched out of a jam in the ninth for his 10th save in 11 chances. He retired Weeks on a groundout with runners on the corners to end it.
The A’s have now lost 10 straight at AT&T Park. Their last victory in the city came on June 15, 2008 with Dana Eveland, now with the Orioles, picking up the win.
Zito, in the midst of a comeback season, improved to just 2-4 with a 7.16 ERA in six starts against the A’s.
Right now, Tyson Ross is on the hill for the good guys, with Ryan Vogelsong getting the start for the Giants. Ross has had a bumpy season so far with a 6.25 ERA over six starts, but he pitched well against the Angels in his last outing, going six shutout innings while giving up five hits and one walk with two strikeouts. Let’s hope he can keep that momentum going, and the A’s get a real victory instead of a moral one.