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Live Blogging: Royals @ A’s Game 68

June 14, 2011

10:33PM PDT: Strike three to Josh Willingham who is still striking out at a considerably unhealthy pace (33.5%) and the ballgame is over. Soria gets it done two strikeouts in the bottom of the ninth, Danny Duffy earns his first major league win and the A’s backed by a shaky Trevor Cahill, who ended a ten game skid, are now in the midst of a brand new three game skid sliding to 28-40 which coupled with a Rangers loss in New York keeps the A’s eight games out. A real shame things have turned out the way they have for the A’s this season because it seems that no one really wants to run away with this division. The Rangers at 36-32 are the worst of any division leader.

10:30PM PDT: Matt Treanor reaches over the padding behind the backstop. Hideki Matsui got robbed of an extra shot there. Really impressive play there, makes up for the one he dropped earlier on.

10:25PM PDT: Joakim Soria is in. He has fourteen shutdowns but six meltdowns also a sketchy 67.8% strand rate, especially considering that as a typical modern closer he likely is coming in with no one on base in the ninth, so he is not as sharp as he typically is this season.

10:16PM PDT: Just as the A’s get closer it seems they’re consistently letting the other teams get further away. Kuiper just said “can’t afford to give the Royals anymore” and Grant Balfour just did that allowing a double to right field to score Mike Moustakas from second and give the Royals some insurance with a 7-4 lead.

10:06PM PDT: New pitcher is the first round draft pick Aaron Crow. Relievers don’t get the credit they deserve but he really ought to be in at least in the conversation for American League Rookie of the Year at this point. The Royals have leaned on him, this is his 26th appearance and he has posted great numbers: 9.5 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9 an amazing 97.4% strand rate (exactly what you want out of a reliever even if unsustainable) which has added up to a 1.44 ERA, 3.44 FIP and 0.5 WAR.

10:03PM PDT: Alcides Escobar throws away a very routine throw to first. Terrible throw gets past Eric Hosmer, which means it rolls to Hayward and Sizemore scores. Game has become interesting and we will have a new pitcher to contend with as well as Ned Yost is asking Greg Holland to politely hit the showers. Royals 6, A’s 4. That missed call could loom large…

10:00PM PDT: Moustakas slips but wow what an arm from third, he nearly gets Sizemore despite the slip. A’s capitalize as Hideki Matsui scores so the A’s narrow the lead to 6-3 and now it is a save situation so maybe we will see reinstated closer Soria in the ninth?

9:59PM PDT: And CoJax rewards Melvin’s faith with a double play.

9:57PM PDT: A’s making something happen here against Holland. Back to back singles. It’d be nice to see CoJax reward Melvin for sticking with him over David DeJesus with a big hit here. Aaron Crow is working in the pen, after Joakim Soria lost the closer job it went to Crow, but he has since regained it but this is not a save situation as things currently look for the ninth inning so perhaps it will be Crow that we see?

9:49PM PDT: Jeff Francoeur flies out to center field. Coco’s weak arm won’t keep Melky Cabrera from scoring. He tags and scores. Royals 6, A’s 2.

9:48PM PDT: Boos are raining down from the stands because the missed call has now resulted in a Kansas City run as Eric Hosmer singles home the out twice Escobar. Royals 5, A’s 2.

9:46PM PDT: I like that Bob Melvin argues. First off in this case he right (twice), Sizemore tagged Escobar two separate times when he was off the bag – this officiating as of late has been terrible. But, back to Melvin, I love the arguing – it is nice to see some passion, get the guys riled up – these games mean something. Great attitude to have coming from the skipper and I think it will come through (at some point) from the players.

9:42PM PDT: Joey Devine, in now for the A’s replacing Michael Wuertz just got smacked by a liner from Alcides Escobar. Given that everyone is smiling I think it has to be OK but that is going to leave a mark in the morning. Devine’s hip or wherever he got hit, so deadened the ball that it was an easy “single” for Escobar. Just hope he is OK because he’s been great so far this year.

9:33PM PDT: A’s have finally got to the Royals bullpen with Danny Duffy done after 104 pitches over six innings. The control wasn’t there, four walks to two strikeouts, but ultimately he got the job done and owns a 4-2 lead – not that the A’s can really say the control wasn’t there for someone else tonight. New Royals pitcher is Greg Holland, who is all about the strikeout as in his 24 appearance long MLB career spread across this and last season he has been good for 11.5 K/9. So far this year he has a 0.00 ERA with a 1.46 FIP and despite just nine appearances has accounted for 0.5 WAR. Good young pitcher.

9:24PM PDT: As Glen Kuiper and Ray Fosse have been saying that was a “BAB” (bad at bat) for Daric Barton. Barton hasn’t been remotely close to good this year. He has been all out of sorts both offensively and defensively. I think he needs to be optioned to Sacramento and get the chance to work things out down there. He just isn’t getting it done in Oakland right now by any means, but he needs at bats.

9:10PM PDT: There we go! Kurt Suzuki finally throws a guy out! The Royals have been running like mad on him tonight. Alex Gordon who had one earlier is out at second.

8:51PM PDT: Coco Crisp drops one into right field and Weeks easily scores, even Francoeur can’t throw him out! Royals 4, A’s 2.

8:49PM PDT: Jemile Weeks with some Peter Bourjos speed! Third triple in his first week as an MLB ballplayer. Wow he is fast! Exciting to watch.

8:45PM PDT: Nice work from Breslow to get out of that jam unscathed. Cahill owes you dinner. Cahill’s WPA on the day: -.310. Not his worst on the year, that would have been his last start -.381.

8:39PM PDT: A Royal gets on base via a hit not a walk (note: shock) and with that Matt Treanor hit (only the Royals’ fourth) Cahill’s night is done. He leaves new pitcher Craig Breslow with a real doozy. Bases loaded, one out. If none of Cahill’s runs score, he has a 4 1/3 inning, four earned run, four hit, seven walk, no strikeout outing. So even if Breslow gets him out of it, an ugly line for Cahill as he certainly does not end his streak of negative WPA games.

8:37PM PDT: And we have a new record! Trevor Cahill walks Mike Moustakas (7.6% BB% at Omaha) for his seventh of the night. Seven in 4 1/3 innings. 91 pitches – 44 for strikes, 47 for balls.

8:34PM PDT: Josh Willingham took a terrible route on that ball and made a play that likely was over his head no matter what and made it look worse. Meanwhile two of Cahill’s six walks of the game (matching a career high) come around to score along as both Hosmer and Francoeur score on the Billy Butler double. Royals strengthen their lead to 4-1.

8:32PM PDT: 30 for 33 now for opposing runners off Suzuki… didn’t think he was that bad. I know that most of your stolen bases come off pitchers, but at some point this must be on Suzuki who has had some wide throws as of late.

8:30PM PDT: Trevor Cahill with two wild pitches in one at bat before he walks Francoeur again. Control is not there 79 pitches so far, 38 for strikes and 41 for balls.

8:12PM PDT: Hideki Matsui with home run number five! Melvin has him hitting against lefties and my how it has panned out. He gets a home run off the lefty Danny Duffy and since Melvin decided to bat him always even against the southpaws he also has one off of ChiSox starter Mark Buehrle. Happy to see Godzilla get a home run. He launched that. Great hit. A’s cut the lead in half 2-1 KC on top.

8:07PM PDT: Another sacrifice bunt followed up a run-scoring ground out for the Royals – not sure I like the strategy but heck it is working better than ours right now isn’t it? Escobar grounds out, Moustakas scores the Royals second run to the A’s none.

8:05PM PDT: Treanor walks. Now it is four walks on the day. Cahill hasn’t brought his A-game tonight.

8:02PM PDT: Solid base hit up the middle for Moustakas and Yost had this guy sacrificing before. Glad Yost isn’t managing the A’s!

7:50PM PDT: I love Daric Barton but he is not hitting and he certainly isn’t making up for it in the field. Yet another error. Bases now are loaded for Kansas City. Terrible, terrible play. Also scary thought, the runner who was safe on said terrible play, Eric Hosmer has five home runs. He made his MLB debut against the A’s at Kauffman Stadium on May 6th. Despite missing a month of the year playing in Omaha, if he were on the A’s he’d be tied for second with home runs. Scary…

7:47PM PDT: Another walk from Trevor Cahill. Number three on the game. And the guys he is walking sheesh… Melky Cabrera (6.1% BB%) and Jeff Francoeur (4.7% BB%). Billy Butler was fair (14.3% BB%) but you can’t let guys who never walk get walks, not a good winning strategy.

7:42PM PDT: Paul Gutierrez of CSN California tweeted earlier that the previous stolen base marked 28 out of the last 31 base stealers being safe against Kurt Suzuki. So I suppose that makes it 29 of his last 32. Alcides Escobar with number nine on the year. Ugly.

7:38PM PDT: Wow. I knew Francoeur had a good arm but man, he had CoJax at the plate by several feet.

7:29PM PDT: Matt Treanor grounds out scoring Jeff Francoeur so perhaps the strategy paid off? Royals lead 1-0.

7:27PM PDT: Wonder what it says about what Yost thinks of Cahill to have Mike Moustakas sacrifice the two runners to second and third with no one out. Both guys walked so it is obvious that Cahill’s control isn’t where it should be, why not let him swing away? Moustakas has had breathtaking power in the minors too (.221 ISO) and shoot so far in the majors in the short time too (.300 ISO).

7:14PM PDT: Good start for Cahill with a very quick eight pitch first inning. The less he can labor the better for everyone, Melvin hasn’t had the luxury of a good deep start yet and it seems like he’s willing to leave guys in so an opportunity to get some good work in for Trevor.

7:00PM PDT: The A’s host the Royals in a battle of small-market teams and also a battle of fourth-place teams with similar records (Oakland: 28-39 and Kansas City: 29-37). The Royals put up left-handed pitcher Danny Duffy making his sixth career start tonight for Ned Yost‘s club. In his mere 24 1/3 innings of MLB work he has struggled with his control matching his 6.7 K/9 with an ugly 6.3 BB/9. He has not been immune to the home run ball (1.5 HR/9 and 15.4% HR/FB) – not that Oakland really hits any. His ERA of 5.55 is pretty inline with his 5.71 FIP and that is all commensurate with him being worth  -0.1 WAR. That being said Duffy is one of Kansas City’s prized prospects and his early struggles should not make us sit and think he is a typical low-quality Kansas City arm. Here is a scouting report from a USA Today article comes this scouting report:

Danny Duffy already has the arsenal to be a No. 2 starter in the big leagues. A lefty, he throws hard and commands three quality, big-league-ready pitches… The only knock I have on Duffy is that he could be a little home-run prone and guys can hit him around a little when he isn’t sharp with his command. He doesn’t have the kind of dominant stuff that hitters tend to swing through even when it is in the zone. Still, he isn’t going to be a comfortable at-bat, even for some polished big leaguers.”

So he won’t be a walk in the park. Conor Jackson is in right today to take his cuts off Duffy, Scott Sizemore is at third. Other lineup spots or positions of note are Daric Barton hitting 8th, and again as per Bob Melvin‘s comments, Cliff Pennington hits second and Hideki Matsui hits third. Great interview on Athletics After Dark (though they are all great) with one of my all-time favs in Joe Stiglich who commented that Matsui perhaps more than anyone else has benefited from the managerial swap of Matsui he said, that his hitting third and everyday,

“its gotta give a guy a little bit of reassurance”

I think it certainly has. It must be very difficult for a designated hitter to get his timing and stroke back when he plays so infrequently. Jemile Weeks hits last and as you know I wrote a piece on his spot on the roster, and in that interview Stiglich also said of possibly moving Mark Ellis,

“I think its something the A’s will consider right now, especially if Weeks continues to show some flashes”.

Let’s hope Weeks keeps showing some flashes, because we need some excitement at the Coliseum and tonight is his first game there! Opposing Duffy will be Trevor Cahill. Cahill has struggled as late with some tough outings – his last positive WPA start was against the San Francisco Giants way back on May 20th (.183) and he looks to get back on track against Kansas City tonight.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. June 14, 2011 11:49 pm

    I had flipped to the Giants game

    *holds head in shame.

    I am ready for white flag and let’s see who we can get. At this point I have been rooting for Moustakas as he is on my fantasy team. But so is Cahill. Yeah I am having a rough year.

    *holds head in shame again

  2. June 15, 2011 12:14 am

    When the A’s drafted Weeks I was very skeptical. Figured he may have been riding on his brother’s name and his brother was not all that good. Well, Rickie has proven himself to be more valuable than I thought he was and Jamile is blowing away my expectations. Man, the kid is fast and is making good contact. I hope he is up in Oakland for good. I know it is early and SSS, but I am ready to eat crow. Most exciting drafted position player since … who? Swish? Either (ugh)? I am not even sure at this point.

    • June 15, 2011 1:12 am

      I suppose Justin Smoak (selected in 2005) wouldn’t count because he didn’t sign? Haha. Kurt Suzuki in 04 isn’t as exciting a player as Ethier in 03 so I think you may be right. Unbelievable how much we have struck out on hitters. Grant Desme looked to be interesting but he was more interested in being a Friar – sadly that did not involve a request for a trade to San Diego…

      • June 15, 2011 1:20 am

        I was not considering unsigned players but had honestly forgotten about Smoak. Depressing thought experiment.

  3. elmaquino permalink
    June 15, 2011 12:46 am

    What do you think Jaim Miller’s chances of making the Majors this year are? Liked him in KC and finally found out he was playing for Sacramento.

    • June 15, 2011 1:13 am

      If we see Jai Miller play in Oakland before September 1st I will be *pissed*

  4. June 15, 2011 1:47 am

    OMG Rich Harden is healthy again. Stop the fire sale. Playoffs here we come!

    • June 15, 2011 7:59 am

      I’d take Harden over Godfrey though it’d seem safest to use Harden in a relief role.

  5. June 15, 2011 5:41 pm

    Call me when he pitches 20 innings without getting hurt as a starter or 10 as a reliever and then I will start to count on him. He has broken my heart too many times now.

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