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Live Blogging: A’s@ Giants Game 45

May 20, 2011

10:44PM PDT: Fastball. Right. Down. The. Middle. Bob Geren + Brian Fuentes = recipe for disaster and Aubrey Huff loves the mix as he singles into right field scoring Burriss from second. Giants win this one 2-1. Way to blow it Bob. Unacceptable.

10:42PM PDT: Again the brilliance of Bob Geren comes through. Let’s intentionally walk Freddy Sanchez to face the left-handed Aubrey Huff. On the surface it makes sense. Given Huff’s reverse platoon (.289/.298/.400 vs. L to .193/.274/.349 vs. R) this makes absolutely no sense.

10:41PM PDT: Sac bunt by Torres. Winning run on second…

10:39PM PDT: Winning run – and a faster runner at that – is now on at first as Burriss pokes it between Pennington and LaRoche into left field. Thank you again Bob Geren and Brian Fuentes for another evening of heart palpitations.

10:34PM PDT: We have a nine-man bullpen right now – yet still Geren insists on pitching Brian Fuentes against righties Emmanuel Burriss (S), Andres Torres (S) and Freddy Sanchez (R) in the bottom of the tenth. Not only that but after making a double switch to put in Ziegler (why it is now unclear) now he makes another one inserting Ryan Sweeney in center field in place of Coco. What the hell Geren? Now we have only one bench player left (Landon Powell) so we get relief pitchers potentially hitting going forward? So stupid.

10:24PM PDT: Ziggy gets Miguel Tejada to strike out on a mean in on the hands curveball so we are going to extra innings where the A’s have a 5-5 record to the Giants’ 3-2 record. Tejada is interesting, his skills have clearly deteriorated, that and he might not be using the same “supplements” he once was. But say what you will about Tejada’s PED usage but unlike the drama going on with the Yankees right now regarding Jorge Posada (also diminishing skills) batting 9th, Tejada has a much better attitude as I haven’t heard of any spite from him regarding hitting so low in the lineup, despite the fact that in his prime he was far better than was Posada.

10:14PM PDT: Brad Ziegler into the game, Bob Geren has made his first double switch of 2011 as he stuck Ziegler in Kouzmanoff’s spot in the lineup meaning Andy LaRoche is manning third. The only reason this is interesting is because it seems to indicate that Geren would like to keep Ziegler in for more than just the one inning of work.

10:11PM PDT: Good play by Nate Schierholtz in right field – he had a long way to run. Schierholtz is one of the few good defensive corner outfielders the Giants have (16.9 career UZR/150) yet despite that, and the Giants’ sorely lacking any semblance of a defense he has been on the bubble all year with this roster. He is out of options so it seems unlikely he’d clear getting to Fresno.

10:05PM PDT: It works out. Posey turns over on one grounds out to Kouz. Game still knotted up at a run a piece. While for the Giants they’ve just been dominated, for the A’s it is again a tale of failing to take advantage of opportunities with the club hitting 0-for-5 with RISP.

10:02PM PDT: Not sure I like this strategy here – intentionally walking Aubrey Huff (.221/.281/.364) a lefty to get the L/R matchup with Buster Posey (.277/.364/.383)…

9:57PM PDT: Pinch-hitter Pat Burrell just gave Michael Wuertz and A’s fans a scare with a hanging slider that Burrell took to the warning track in center field. Phew! I think like in Oakland, the ball doesn’t carry as well at night as it does in the day here in San Francisco. AT&T is a big park. According to ESPN’s Park Factor its a tougher park to poke one out of this year than is the Coliseum:

PF (HR) MLB Rank Coliseum 0.951 13th
AT&T Park 0.814 21st

9:52PM PDT: Romo gets Willingham to strikeout. Hey join the club Sergio, Willingham now has tallied two K’s on the night, for a grand total of 49 on the year. His WAR is -0.3 coming into tonight’s ballgame. Henry Rodriguez with the Nats is at 0.1 WAR. I wouldn’t have thought there was any way possible this season that Rodriguez and Corey Brown would have a higher WAR than Willingham…

9:48PM PDT: So Bruce Bochy comes out to replace Affeldt so that Sergio Romo can pitch to Willingham. He isn’t doing a double switch, which means Romo is out for just the one hitter as he’s due to leadoff the next inning (or I assume that at least he only has four career plate appearances). I would’ve thought we’d see a double switch but we didn’t and it made me think of something else I don’t like about these National League rules. Constantly NL fans will tell you that there is more strategy to the NL game, I never bought into this nonsense as the moves are forced here where you need to use instinct etc in the American Legaue where the decisions aren’t made for you like they are in the NL. But these double switches just ensure you have worse hitters throughout the remainder of the game. The quality of play just depreciates the further you go into an NL game as you have more and more players who just get worse and worse the longer you go.

9:43PM PDT: I didn’t question Geren’s move of burning Matsui – but now Glen Kuiper just said that Matsui is 4-for-9 in his career against Affeldt, and I checked and that includes two doubles and three strikeouts. That seems like it might be a worthwhile risk as Jackson was 2-for-5 with a double, no strikeouts which doesn’t represent that much of an improvement.

9:38PM PDT: In some good injury related news I just saw that Andrew Bailey pitched a 1-2-3 with a strikeout inning for the River Cats tonight in the top of the seventh against the Oklahoma City RedHawks. In other news from that game in Sacramento, Travis Banwart started went six, striking out eight – he is good.

9:33PM PDT: That was a good play by Josh Willingham to cut that ball off and not let it get to the wall. It makes a huge difference having Cody Ross on first as opposed to second in this close game off of the new A’s hurler Grant Balfour (I’m sure that hit resulted in some choice words from Balfour to himself).

9:26PM PDT: Sanchez with a great play to end the inning. Cahill won’t get a decision, the game is still tied. Here is how inadvertently the AL rules ensure better pitching, despite a tougher lineup you can have starters go longer. Cahill’s line, six innings of work, one hit, one earned run, two walks and six K’s all on a mere 83 pitches.

9:25PM PDT: Conor Jackson is now in to hit instead of Matsui, which means that Matsui is burned for the game too. So no Cahill, no Matsui and (I assume with a new pitcher) no Jackson.

9:22PM PDT: Ten-pitch at bat – I was just thinking Cliff Pennington is just great at working counts like this, he’s done it several times this year. But a weak pop out – it was clear he was just fouling off pitches as a walk wasn’t really optimal in this situation – and that means Trevor Cahill‘s night is through. Matsui comes in to pinch-hit, Bochy is going to make the corresponding move of bringing in southpaw Jeremy Affeldt.

9:18PM PDT: Passed ball (not a traditional one – it may have hit Pennington’s bat and I think it did on a checked swing) so Mark Ellis advances to third. Pennington needs to drive him in so we can keep Cahill in there. Posey had a good argument there, gotta call them as we see them, and it looks like it hit the bat as I watch a second replay. He is a good defensive catcher, he doesn’t just totally miss a pitch and Ramirez doesn’t have that sort of a crazy break or anything to explain it.

9:14PM PDT: Ellis steals second on the Kouzmanoff strikeout. So now with no double play, Pennington needs to get a hit and score Ellis to keep Cahill in the game. If I were the Giants, I might from a strategy point of view intentionally walk Pennington specifically to get Cahill out of the game. Its a risky move, but getting Hideki Matsui (who would be the pinch-hitter I presume) to hit into a double play isn’t exactly an insane proposition, he has GIDP five times this year.

9:10PM PDT: Cahill is just at 83 pitches and is in the hole in a tied game. I assume the only way Cahill doesn’t get pinch-hit for in this inning is if Kouz and Pennington score Ellis or more? I’ve said it before, these NL rules are such a drag. The AL gets the big shaft in these games with the loss of one of their more potent hitters (if not the most potent hitter), and then they have pitchers who never ever bat, ever, in the minors, never in the majors, and they’re expected to hit against professional pitchers – so stupid. I hate interleague play.

9:09PM PDT: Giants have a new pitcher, Ramon Ramirez who will hit ninth. Ramirez is having a good year, doesn’t get as many strikeouts as a lot of relievers (6.4 K/9) but has much better control than the typical reliever (1.6 BB/9). Despite that great control, Mark Ellis draws a lead off walk, second straight inning that the A’s lead off with a walk.

8:58PM PDT: A’s get nowhere offensively but they saw a lot of pitches which is just what you want to do. Vogelsong is now up to 97 on the game. So earlier today I had a post about the Brandon McCarthy injury in which I wrote,

“Earlier today, prior to the knowledge (perhaps prior to knowledge by the A’s as well?) that McCarthy was going down…”

Learned from a Jane Lee article on that that was not the case. In the article she writes,

Brandon McCarthy was less than two hours removed from the doctor’s office Thursday morning, carrying around news of a shoulder injury, when he witnessed rotation mate Tyson Ross exit his start after just seven pitches.”

So there ya have it. That’s an interesting piece of news.

8:42PM PDT: Strike that last speculation, Vogelsong is coming up to bat.

8:38PM PDT: The inning is done, but the A’s tie it and really make Ryan Vogelsong work he’s now up to 79 pitches through five. I wonder if with him due up second in the next inning Bruce Bochy opts to remove him? I don’t know what is typical for NL play – if I am being premature in this assessment, but the Giants do have someone throwing in the pen (LHP Dan Runzler).

8:35PM PDT: Cahill gets it to 3-2 but then grounds into a 4-6-3 double play – but Ellis scores. So this game is tied!

8:32PM PDT: An error that draws Mike Fontenot off the bag means everyone is safe. Bases are loaded for Trevor Cahill. I wonder, is it a better idea for Cahill just to sit and take pitches? Keeps him out of a double play right? Coco Crisp then comes up with the bases loaded. Cahill’s lone hit in his MLB career came with the bases empty.

8:30PM PDT: Kevin Kouzmanoff draws a walk just his fifth in 117 plate appearances. Wonder strategy this creates for dealing with Cahill. I imagine best case scenario Cliff Pennington gets a hit to score Ellis and then Cahill sacs them both over?

8:25PM PDT: Mark Ellis with a double off the center field wall, that ball just carried and even if Torres caught up to it he was so turned around on it, I don’t think he’d have gotten to it. So the A’s have a lead off double. Of course we have to remember looming in the lineup now is Cahill hitting, so we need to get something done with the next two batters.

8:18PM PDT: Buster Posey doubles to right. What an incredible ballplayer this kid is part of a very strong 2008 draft class. The A’s chose seven spots after the Giants and selected Jemile Weeks – I think soon he too will be making an impact at the MLB level.

8:07PM PDT: I thought Torres got tagged by Daric Barton, the replay put that into question a bit. I wonder if there is an adverse effect to Cody Ross and his stupid garbage about the ball hitting the ground first on that play where he basically threw his bat but, I wonder does Ross trying to pull a fast one negatively impact Torres’ case?

7:58PM PDT: He had the green light, ground out to second base.

7:57PM PDT: Trevor Cahill due up, in spring training they wouldn’t let the pitchers swing the few times they actually had to bat. Wonder if they will maintain that strategy? I doubt it but, here we go with this pitchers hitting nonsense…

7:44PM PDT: Mark Ellis gets his 1,000th career hit. Pretty impressive numbers coming a few days after teammate David DeJesus collected his 1,000th. Of course, for Ellis all of his were in an A’s uniform. Good stuff, he’s hitting better as of late – hope that keeps up.

7:38PM PDT: So Glen Kuiper and Ray Fosse hadn’t heard of tonight’s home plate umpire (John Tumpane) aren’t impressed with his strike zone, and neither is Kurt Suzuki (or me – though my opinion is of little consequence):

7:35PM PDT: Interesting tweet just came through from Paul Gutierrez of CSNCalifornia he wrote:

“But keep an eye on recently DFA’d Armando Galarraga.”

It certainly is something I’d look into. As I wrote earlier today I think Travis Banwart is an interesting option though he’d require a 40-man roster move – though Galarraga would too unless the A’s traded a guy on their 40-man roster to the D-backs to acquire him. I can’t imagine Arizona’s asking price would be too much as per Cot’s Baseball Contracts Galarraga is being paid a relatively high $2.3M. Galarraga who is of course best known for his imperfect perfect game has an ugly 5.91 ERA and uglier 7.16 FIP, though his career marks are a better 4.69 and 5.33. His K/BB ratio is pretty weak, but he is good for 180 innings a season which has value in and of itself.

7:28PM PDT: A steal and throwing error, get Torres to third and he scores on a Freddy Sanchez ground out. Giants 1, A’s 0. First first-inning run from Cahill in 2011.

7:26PM PDT: Andres Torres walks to leadoff the game for the Giants. He is having a decent start to his season (.298/.365/.474) and his BABIP of .410 surely has a lot to do with that. Last year he was a key piece in the Giants’ World Championship team and posted a 6.1 WAR. That came out of nowhere as his previous high was in 2009 at 2.0 and prior to that he topped out at 0.0 with the 2003 Detroit Tigers. Only three Giants had higher a WAR than Torres between 2001-2010, not surprisingly Barry Bonds (13.0, 12.9, 12.2 and 10.7 in 2002, 2001, 2004 and 2003 respectively) was one, Rich Aurilia (7.6 in 2001) another and finally Jeff Kent (7.1 in 2002) the third. Strange group. Fluke of a year from Torres.

7:03PM PDT: Interleague play the 2011 edition begins today, read this quote on SBNation and it basically sums up my thoughts on interleague play quite succinctly,

“Interleague baseball is like kissing your sister: it is a kiss, but no matter how hot she is, it is wrong and you cannot enjoy it.”

So with that said, tonight at AT&T Park two of the teams with arguably the best pitching in baseball face each other for a three game set. The A’s put their number one starter Trevor Cahill on the mound while the Giants counter with Ryan Vogelsong who despite not being one of the pitchers thought of when discussing San Francisco’s stellar pitching is putting together a nice season for himself. Vogelsong has made six appearances, four of them starts, and in his 26 2/3 innings of work he has an 8.1 K/9 rate and allwows 2.7 BB/9. He has a strong ERA (2.36) and FIP (2.97) and is already worth a career high 0.5 WAR. With no designated hitter, Hideki Matsui is out of the lineup – though I have to assume he is the number one option for pinch-hitting in a clutch situation that warrants it. That means the ridiculousness of pitchers hitting – and the special ridiculousness of American League pitchers hitting – and here are Trevor Cahill‘s career slash mark: .200/.200/.200. This my friends is what National League fans will tell you makes the game better and Cahill is better than most! In his career seven plate appearances he has gone 1-for-5 with one strikeout and two sacrifice hits. He is the Silver Slugger amongst the A’s starters for this three game set as Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez haven’t ever mustered a hit or walk. So let the games begin, it is a bit on the chilly side but the wind is just unreal and it’ll be interesting to see how it affects the ball coming off the bat.

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