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Live Blogging: A’s @ Blue Jays Game 4

April 5, 2011

10:02PM EDT: So much for having Balfour close… walk off knock for Yunel Escobar. Toronto wins 7-6. Game over. A’s fall to 1-3 on the season. Heartbreaking loss.

10:01PM EDT: Funny how much I liked watch Rajai dance off first when he was an Athletic and how nervous it makes me when he is not.

9:52PM EDT: Kouz just keeps taking pitches and working counts. Love it. Results in a bloop single to right – nice work. Gonna be a big year for him, I can feel it. Seeing a real change in his approach.

9:50PM EDT: Great half-ass throw from Frasor to “keep Kurt Suzuki close” at first. He literally was a step off and just turned around. If I am Frasor I am likely not altogether so concerned with Suzuki’s 13 steals in 20 attempts standing at first, and maybe am focusing a bit more on Kouz at the plate. But that’s me.

9:47PM EDT: Really happy to see that Geren has Grant Balfour throwing in the bullpen. Here’s hoping he comes in to close this one out and get Jerry Blevins (who if he keeps pitching like this will win me over) the victory.

9:43PM EDT: Second deck blast for Josh Willingham! A’s lead 6-5! Josh is now responsible for all two of Oakland’s home runs this season. Real happy with this pickup thus far, Willingham is paying some dividends right off the bat (no pun intended).

9:40PM EDT: Why is the graphic for BART $2 Wednesdays a car speeding along a highway? Doesn’t seem to match. Meanwhile in Toronto we have free baseball and a new Blue Jay pitcher (the sixth): Jason Frasor. It seems they have two guys left in the pen.

9:35PM EDT: Answer is no. Bob Geren goes to Jerry Blevins. Strikes out Travis Snider but now faces four straight right-handed hitters. Don’t get why Blevins is the go-to guy seemingly – despite his strong outing on Sunday. What about Michael Wuertz?

9:32PM EDT: Rajai Davis ran a mile to snag that Conor Jackson blast leaving Coco Crisp stranded at second. Still tied heading into the bottom of the 9th, McCarthy is still at just 89 pitches, we think Geren might let him go out there for another go?

9:26PM EDT: Jon Rauch is in for the Blue Jays. In a tie game he is their fifth pitcher, seems a risky strategy burning through these guys for an inning following Reyes’ earlier departure. Would be nice to capitalize on it.

9:10PM EDT: McCarthy gets through seven, matching Gio Gonzalez for longest outing on this short season. Don’t see any reason he can’t go even longer. Pitch count is only 81.

9:06PM EDT: With just 72 pitches Brandon McCarthy is being left in by Geren for the seventh. I like the move since the trouble really was due to defensive errors not anything McCarthy has done. Ray Fosse and Glen Kuiper keep talking about McCarthy being known for his command. I know he had the one walk in the Cactus League but one of McCarthy’s biggest problems has been control his entire career (3.4 BB/9) which has been average at best. Strange how one spring can rewrite your history, especially when with a new club?

8:58PM EDT: David Purcey is the new Blue Jays hurler. A converted starter he has been pretty unimpressive in his time in the majors. Featuring a 5.33 career ERA and a 4.56 FIP. He strikes guys out (7.9 K/9) but has trouble locating the plate (4.5 BB/9) which is not a recipe for success and explains why Purcey hasn’t found any.

8:56PM EDT: So following the Edwin Encarnacion double against his “former team”, the score is cut down to 5-4, then a Travis Snider ground out ties it at five. McCarthy is out of the inning but the defense is just killing the pitchers though. Cahill and McCarthy have thrown so many extra pitches care of defensive misplays.

8:53PM EDT: Another error. Third of the inning, tenth of the year and we are only in game four. This is the second on Kouzmanoff today.

8:52PM EDT: Pick off throw misses and goes down the line. McCarthy finally tries keeping runners on but it doesnt work as intended. Another A’s error. Defense has been atrocious thus far, sure to improve but a little disconcerting as this is supposed to be a real strength.

8:51PM EDT: McCarthy is running into a little bit of trouble here as they’ve closed it to 5-3.

8:46PM EDT: So Cliff Pennington takes over at shortstop for Andy LaRoche. Sort of an odd timing for a defensive replacement. Pretty early in the game and the game is quite wide open still.

8:43PM EDT: Barton looks out of sorts today. He swung and missed quite badly on those two strikeouts.

8:36PM EDT: McCarthy strikes out Jose Molina which is great after allowing a hit to Jayson Nix. He is looking good, really impressed with his first outing.

8:27PM EDT: Halfway home. Villanueva is doing a decent job keeping Toronto in this thing. It’ll be interesting to see how long Geren leaves McCarthy in assuming all continues as planned. He hasn’t pitched in ten days and if things stay the same as they are now it would not be  a save situation. I am still a bit perplexed with how Geren has used the bullpen thus far this season but I guess my doubting of him should be muted given the CoJax/LaRoche success of this evening.

8:18PM EDT: McCarthy settles down and gets out of it. Big hat tip to Kevin Kouzmanoff with a stellar play on a Juan Rivera smash. A’s up 5-1.

8:15PM EDT: Really important for McCarthy – facing adversity for the first time this game and season – keeps it together and just focuses on the hitter.

8:07PM EDT: Another run in off new pitcher Carlos Villanueva. A’s up 5-0. Great to see the offense clicking.

8:01PM EDT: Daric Barton walks and that chases Reyes from the game. Interesting, first time I’ve seen the OBP posted on CSNCalifornia (or first time I’ve noticed maybe because Barton’s OBP is so awesome?)

7:58PM EDT: LaRoche/CoJax now 4-for-4. Kouzmanoff scores on the  play A’s 4-0 and looking great. Wonder if Jo-Jo Reyes unraveled following that borderline call on Josh Willingham that would’ve gotten him out of the 3rd?

7:54PM EDT: McCarthy is looking phenomenal. Six pitch third inning. Twenty-one pitches thus far tonight. I wonder if John Farrell‘s plan was to have the Blue Jays try to pounce on him? Also I wonder if the change in the way McCarthy pitches, relying less on simply blowing the fastball past guys, is what is aiding his control and he is a more complete pitcher? I realize the sample size problem here, we are talking three innings, but I am impressed thus far, and have felt that McCarthy will do better than Ben Sheets did last season.

7:47PM EDT: Yunel Escobar has looked great thus far, but how about David DeJesus, running it out like that? A’s up 3-0. Great rally, very confidence inspiring, especially after I seriously questioned the composition of this lineup.

7:46PM EDT: Ha! Mark Ellis was just thrown out by a mile but Aaron Hill juggles the ball and he is safe. Wow, if I were Jo-Jo Reyes, I would be mad at my second baseman. Ellis himself thought he was out. Lucky break there for the A’s. A’s lead 2-0.

7:42PM EDT: So maybe Geren was onto something none of us suspected? CoJax/LaRoche 3-for-3 as Jackson’s double drives in LaRoche. A’s 1-0. I still feel very strongly that Jackson will have a good year as he is over the Valley Fever. The spring was terrible for him, and I wonder if it was partly a confidence issue, but I think he will be alright this year and a very valuable backup.

7:36PM EDT: Well with LaRoche’s double the two new lineup additions he and CoJax are 2-for-2.

7:28PM EDT: I love seeing Kevin Kouzmanoff be selective at the plate. I think it ought to pay dividends to him in the long-run but it really seems like he’s changed his approach. Last year it seemed he wanted to just get a hit and swung at that first pitch no matter what. Maybe with a few more looks he can hit the pitches he should hit more than just the pitches he wants to hit.

7:20PM EDT: Seven pitch inning for Brandon McCarthy, now that is what I am talking about! I have big expectations out of McCarthy, I really feel confident he is going to put together a great year.

7:17PM EDT: Rajai Davis is leading off for Toronto. Early opinion on the trade: bad. Danny Farquhar and Trystan Magnuson were none too impressive in the Cactus League and they are already quite old for “prospects”.

7:10PM EDT: Rogers Centre is empty. 500 level today is named after the 500 people sitting in it.

7:03PM EDT: Lineup note with respect to the Blue Jays they will be without Jose Bautista for the series. He is tending to family business in Florida. While one guy can’t carry a team in baseball like other sports, if you had to have one guy extricate himself from Toronto’s lineup for this series it certainly would be Bautista and his fast home-run producing swing. Can’t say he will be missed by McCarthy, Braden or Trevor Cahill.

6:56PM EDT: So my hypothesis that the Braden move was simply a political way of rearranging the rotation appears to have been off the mark. Joe Stiglich of the Contra Costa Times reports:

“There’s nothing major to report with Dallas Braden having his start pushed back to Wednesday. Braden and manager Bob Geren both said he was simply given extra time to fine-tune some things on the mound. The lefty wanted to work on his slider particularly. ‘If anything, I wanted to do more work on the side,’ Braden said. ‘It’s best to throw another bullpen (session) to make sure I’m where I wanted to be. It’s a fortunate thing to have these early off-days to manipulate and work around.’

I think a couple things are at play here: Braden was the least sharp of any of the starting pitchers during spring training, so the A’s probably want him as ready as possible for his first start. Plus, Brandon McCarthy, who was moved up a day to start tonight, hasn’t pitched in 10 days, and you’ve got to think McCarthy was happy to get back on the mound sooner rather than later. I’ll be interested to see how he fares tonight given that abnormally long layoff.”

Regardless with that said tonight we see Brandon McCarthy‘s first start of the year along with the first starts of Conor Jackson in left field (hitting third?) and Andy LaRoche at short. I’m somewhat perplexed with this lineup coming so early in the season and following an offday, it seems like a lineup that would’ve made a bit more sense on Thursday with the day game following the night game.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Dangerous Dean permalink
    April 5, 2011 11:05 pm

    ouch. No loss is a good loss. But this way is one of the worst.

    Willingham is a superb player and I had hoped that Texas might make a push for him before the trade deadline last year. I think that you will like him more and more as the season goes on if he can stay healthy.

    • April 6, 2011 10:25 am

      Yeah, taking a lead in the top of the tenth to blow it in the bottom, following a game where you blew a five-run lead on a series of poor defensive efforts… if you are going to lose, it is a good recipe for losing but a bitterly painful one to have to sit through.

      I like what Willingham has brought to the club. My big concern of course is he hits it into the marine layer and watches flyball after flyball die instead of going over the fence, but I like what I see thus far. I don’t know how I feel about extending him, maybe for 2012, but not too far beyond that – likely not feasible as I’ve discussed on here before. But he is certainly a good addition for the 2011 squad and I am happy to have him on board. On your end it looks like Nelson Cruz will have to settle for home runs in 161 of the 162 games.

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