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Live Blogging: Angels @ A’s Game 41

May 16, 2011

11:38PM PDT: Wow! Kurt Suzuki was running on contact, Ellis with a chopper to Kendrick, Zuk scores. A’s win 5-4 in 10! Let’s go Oakland! Great win after blowing the lead, they comeback to win. Daric Barton with a huge hit, hopefully it’ll portend good things to come. A’s narrow the difference with the Angels to a half game. So Fernando Rodney will take the loss, Grant Balfour earns the win – A’s improve to 21-20 and now trail the Rangers (who via the Halo’s loss, leapfrogged them into first) by one game in the division. Good stuff – these games with the Angels seem to always be fun.

11:34PM PDT: Rodney with a wild pitch. Now it is men on second and third – the double play doesn’t exist anymore. Great chance for Mark Ellis to be a hero, count is 2-2… now the Halos go with five infielders. Bourjos is in “left-center”, Hunter is in “right-center”, Kendrick slides over to second, Izturis is straight up the middle.

11:31PM PDT: Conor Jackson draws a walk. Runners on first and second. Rodney now has thrown sixteen pitches with only five strikes.

11:28PM PDT: Kurt Suzuki walks. Just wait it out boys – Rodney can’t find the strikezone with a map.

11:26PM PDT: Ouch. Rodney K’s Hideki Matsui on the palmball. Palmball is a sort of weird pitch – it is a form of changeup, where the pitcher holds the ball tightly in their palm or between the thumb and ring finger and throwing it with a motion of a fastball – slightly different than the more three fingered grip of a traditional change. It is starting to rain yet again…

11:24PM PDT: Fernando Rodney is in to pitch for the Halos. He is traditionally a wild pitcher, so it’d be good if everyone was patient, let him get himself into trouble on a cold miserable night. Must be sort of scary to face the guy, he is a flame-thrower with poor control – must be intimidating. Started out the season as the closer before losing the job to Walden.

11:21PM PDT: Good inning from Grant Balfour, three K’s and a hit allowed. Ray Fosse had an interesting interview with him before the game, and Balfour talked about playing baseball in Australia which was just interesting. I got the chance to see baseball in Australia in the 1999 Intercontinental Cup – which Australia ultimately won. It was sparsely attended by locals, but the stadium was really quite neat. I have heard though it has since been converted away from baseball use – it was constructed for the 2000 Olympic Games. I like Balfour a lot, don’t get why he isn’t given the opportunity to close as he seems to have the makeup for it.

11:12PM PDT: Strike three. Third strikeout of the night for Willingham. My oh my he is K’ing way way way too much.

11:10PM PDT: Daric Barton comes through! Blown save/meltdown for Jordan Walden as Barton hits it into the gap in right-center. The importance of speed with Crisp stealing second makes this happen. Tied 4-4!

11:08PM PDT: Coco steals second. So RISP for Barton now. With that steal Crisp ties the AL lead in SB.

11:07PM PDT: Coco Crisp drops one into left field to keep the game alive. Walden just gave him a steady dose of fastballs at 99, 99, 97, 98 and 97. Pennington is the only hitter he’s faced thus far to see a non-fastball, he saw one change up.

11:05PM PDT: Cliff Pennington too goes down with a nary a whimper. One out left. One run needed.

11:04PM PDT: Ryan Sweeney comes in to pinch hit and strikes out swinging after four pitches. Two outs left.

11:00PM PDT: The bottom of the ninth coming up following a 1-2-3 inning from Fuentes. Halos closer Jordan Walden will come into the game to face Kouz, Pennington and Crisp. Walden has an impressive 12 shutdowns to just three meltdowns this season. If you’re hoping for a quick tie on a home run that is unlikely as Walden has only given up one home run in his MLB career and that came last season off the bat of Andy Marte then of the Cleveland Indians. So far this year Walden sports a solid 9.3 K/9 and a less solid 4.4 BB/9. His ERA is 2.95 but his FIP is lower at 2.34. He has been allowing mostly fly balls this year (55.1%) which isn’t a great statistic for A’s hitters here in the spacious Coliseum.

10:58PM PDT: Bad call at first, but we’ll take it. Erick Aybar “grounds out to third” off new A’s pitcher Brian Fuentes.

10:48PM PDT: Ziegler pitches a perfect inning. Pineiro’s day also is through, and the new Halos pitcher is southpaw Scott Downs who promptly allows a hit to Hideki Matsui.

10:39PM PDT: The rain isn’t really coming down and the eighth inning has begun.

10:36PM PDT: Willingham strikes out – and in other news the oceans are full of water. I don’t know if this is just passive aggressive jockeying by the A’s to keep this game alive, but the second that ball hit Bobby Wilson‘s mitt, Brad Ziegler starter to jog in from the bullpen. So we shall see what happens next…

10:33PM PDT: Daric Barton with a hit to keep this game alive (I can’t imagine there is any way they let this go into the eighth).

10:28PM PDT: Callaspo flies out to end the threat though the Angels take the lead. Wuertz outing of the year for Wuertz as he pitches a third of an inning, allowing two hits while walking one. The go-ahead run was his responsibility so he is in line for the loss if this Angels lead holds. I wonder if this was a matter of now having a good grip, because it is very very wet. We’ll see how Pineiro looks coming out in the bottom of the seventh as that should give some indication if the wet ball is causing pitchers some trouble, or if it was just that Wuertz didn’t have his control tonight. Because his slider didn’t look good and his aim was terrible.

10:25PM PDT: Howie Kendrick drops one in front of Josh Willingham, two runs score. Angels now lead 4-3. The rain now is our enemy and is falling fast and furious.

10:24PM PDT: Torii Hunter draws a walk, with some of those pitches looking a bit questionable.

10:21PM PDT: Maicer Izturis with a base hit off the glove of Barton. Go-ahead run is on first. Izturis’ hit is just the second of the year off of Wuertz, the only other one being a May 2nd single by Chris Davis of the Rangers.

10:19PM PDT: I am happy to see Wuertz into this game. He has been dominant this season and comes in with these stellar (though largely unsustainable numbers): 0.00 ERA, 1.12 FIP, 0.4 WAR (as a reliever in only 9.1 innings!), an .063 BABIP (bound to change), 12.54 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9.

10:17PM PDT: Impressive play by Kevin Kouzmanoff to be aggressive and get Aybar at second base on a groundout. Nice play there. And that’ll close the book on Brett Anderson who is being pulled by manager Bob Geren. He is still responsible for Abreu on first but goes six and two-thirds with allowing two earned runs on five hits and four walks while striking out seven. Michael Wuertz is coming in to pitch.

10:16PM PDT: Erick Aybar walks. He represents the tying run, which is key because it is pouring here in the top of the seventh with the A’s clinging to a 3-2 lead. I have to think if it stays like this, this game is at the very least in a rain delay after this half inning. Anderson’s control isn’t where we expect it to be as he is now at four walks on the game. He came into the game with only 12 in 53 1/3 innings.

10:07PM PDT: Here comes some rain. This is pretty heavy. They’ve played enough to make this official. With Oakland having the lead they don’t need to finish out the inning if need be.

9:59PM PDT: Great work by Coco Crisp to get to that deep Trumbo fly ball in the gap. But of course that is more than deep enough to score Hunter from third. A’s lead is now just one run, 3-2.

9:58PM PDT: Double play ball but Pennington bobbles it and rolls it to second, so only one out and a run scores. Angels cut the A’s lead to 3-1.

9:56PM PDT: Howie Kendrick walks on a questionable fourth ball, though Pitch f/x says it was outside the zone. Bases are juiced nobody out.

9:54PM PDT: Anderson’s gotten himself into a bit of a jam here as he walks Torii Hunter to move Izturis who singled to second with no one out. Kendrick, Callaspo and Trumbo, three solid hitters are due up. It’ll be good to see him work out of it as with rain possible at any moment and this game now official, the A’s want to ensure no matter what they hold this lead.

9:43PM PDT: Willingham with some warning track power, but it is deep enough to allow all three runners to tag up. A’s now lead 3-0.

9:42PM PDT: Joel Pineiro intentionally walks Daric Barton, I assume this is to set up a force everywhere, but Willingham is no slouch and Barton has been scuttling. I presume the Angels don’t want this lead to swell to three, but it seems like quite the risk. Let’s hope the A’s make them pay for it.

9:40PM PDT: Double by Coco Crisp, but Pennington holds at third…

9:37PM PDT: Cliff Pennington drops one into center field in front of Bourjos to score Ellis. A’s have a 2-0 lead.

9:35PM PDT: David DeJesus with a great slide gets the A’s a run on a throwing error by Callaspo that gets past Trumbo. Wilson backed up the play at first but DeJesus chugging around the base ran back to cover the plate and the slide got in a split second before Wilson could apply a tag, great play. Smart running by Mark Ellis to get to third, a three base error from Callaspo. A’s lead 1-0! Great capitalizing on mistakes. Let’s get Ellis home from third now.

9:29PM PDT: So I said earlier than neither pitcher was dominant. At that point Anderson after three had K’d one. New pitcher showed up after that, as Anderson now is up to five K’s after freezing Bobby Abreu for strike three to end the fifth and leave Wilson stranded at second where he started the inning. Great pitching. They showed a graphic earlier about Anderson versus Texas and Anderson vs. everyone else. Quite startling, but they just showed the ERA, so here is the full story coming into today:

vs. Texas 7.4 7.4 3.7 10.24 9.34
vs. Others 6.6 0.8 0.0 1.65 1.94

9:26PM PDT: Bobby Wilson doubles and then Mike Scioscia decides to have Peter Bourjos try and bunt him over to third. He can’t get it down and eventually strikes out. I just don’t like the strategy if I am an Angels fan, because it is nonsensical, on a hit Wilson should score from second. What’s the advantage of having him at third? Unless Scioscia feels that a one-run lead is insurmountable for Oakland – where he frankly might have a point.

9:20PM PDT: Another K for Josh Willingham, that is Joel Pineiro‘s first of the game. Yesterday of course Willingham had the golden sombrero, and avoided a fifth strikeout by grounding out to end the game. His K% is still atrocious entering today at 32.3% which is 5th worst in the AL. The worst he’d ever been in a full season was 24.4% in 2009 with the Nats, so this really comes out of nowhere for him.

9:16PM PDT: Nice three pitch strikeout by Brett Anderson of Mark Trumbo. Started with a curve, then two sliders, made him look silly. Great stuff, here’s what it looks like care of

9:11PM PDT: Fast moving game, which is good I guess given that it started 85 minutes late. Neither pitcher has been dominant – but both have been effective.

IP H BB K Pitches Strikes
Anderson 3.0 3 1 1 43 27
Pineiro 3.0 2 1 0 35 21

8:50PM PDT: If Mark Ellis could only hit as well as he fields…

8:43PM PDT: Kendrick leads off for the Halos, as I mentioned he already has matched his career high WAR at 2.3. Some other numbers on Kendrick, 151 wRC+ and a .389 wOBA right now. Very good numbers, he is aided by a very high .375 BABIP, but what is noteworthy at least, is he is more patient at the plate with a 8.2% BB% (his previous career high was 5.0% in 2009), strangely he is also striking out more than ever before with a 23.2% K% (his previous career high – or low, really – being 19.0% also in 2009). I would’ve thought perhaps he just isn’t swinging very much, but his Swing % is 47.0% (not that much lower than his 49.3% career mark), but he is swinging less on pitches outside the zone 29.8% (career mark is 33.7% never before he been under 30) but the strikeouts likely are explained by his season being a career-worst thus far in Z-Contact%, the percentage of balls swung on with contact made in the strike zone at 87.7%. Interesting numbers out of Kendrick, but its all added up clearly to a career year thus far for him, a player who has perennially sort of underperformed.

8:40PM PDT: Wow, the field is wet. Josh Willingham hits down the line, goes off the glove of Alberto Callaspo and looks like it’ll be a double but then it rolls straight into a deep puddle in short left field and virtually stops. I’ve never seen that before at a ballgame.

8:30PM PDT: And we begin!

7:59PM PDT: Start time is now 8:30 – allegedly…

7:28PM PDT: 

Love the dude wearing a Raiders jacket. Can’t have a groundskeeping squad uniform? I hope that cost savings is going into the MLB payroll…

7:17PM PDT: Ken Korach is guessing no way this happens before 8:00.

7:06PM PDT: As per Vince Cotroneo – scrap that 7:35 start time as that isn’t looking good now either.

7:04PM PDT: The game is set to start at 7:35 as it is presently raining, if and when we get started tonight’s matchup will pit Angels starter Joel Pineiro against A’s hurler Brett Anderson. It is better to be lucky than good and thus far this year Joel Pineiro – who only has three starts as he began the year on the disabled list – has been far luckier than good, sporting a 1.33 ERA but a 4.12 FIP. Never one to strike out a lot of guys, he is presently at 4.43 K/9 a hair better than his worst season in that category (2009 with St. Louis when he had 4.42 K/9). He is walking 2.7/9, hitters are hitting an incredible and unsustainable .236 on balls put in play off Pineiro and he is stranding an amazing 98.9% – which makes it easy to figure out how the disparity between ERA and FIP is so great.  Brett Anderson is coming off a poor outing in Arlington in which he threw 97 pitches in just four and two-thirds innings allowing four runs all earned – that being said he has struggled in both his starts against Texas this year. Unlike Pineiro his numbers are right where they belong, he sports a 3.21 ERA and 3.31 FIP. Hitters hit .304 on balls put in play by Anderson and he strands 75.7%. One thing to note about Anderson is his very high GB% (63.5%) which leads all qualifying American League pitchers (out of the 56 who qualify) and by a relatively wide margin over the second place pitcher (Fausto Carmona of the Indians at 60.8%). Should this game be played Pineiro will be throwing to the same lineup the A’s used on Opening Day. The Angels lineup meanwhile is a bit different. With Vernon Wells injured Howie Kendrick (having a stellar year with 2.3 WAR already – which prior this year has been his career high achieved in a full season in 2007 and 2009) is playing left field and Maicer Izturis is taking over at second. Bobby Wilson is getting the start today behind the plate, just his third start on the season and first since April 10th.

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