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Live Blogging: Mariners @ A’s Game 86

July 4, 2011

6:38PM PDT: A little bit of drama on the dropped strike three – but A’s lose. No drama there. As expected between two teams that cannot score it is a close 2-1 loss which goes to an undeserving of another loss and a 1-5 record Brandon McCarthy. With the division all knotted up at the top between the 44-41 Angels and Rangers who have yet to play today the win moves the M’s to within two of the AL West lead. This is just so frustrating to me, because the Mariners and A’s are very similar ballclubs, all pitching and no offensive clout whatsoever yet we are in last place in a year when this division could have easily been ours with even a slightly better offense – how Gerald Perry still has a job despite the epic collapses offensively of Daric Barton, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Cliff Pennington, Mark Ellis, Hideki Matsui, David DeJesus and Kurt Suzuki is beyond me. A’s slip to 38-48 6 1/2 back of the Angels and Rangers unless either or both should win tonight, and they find themselves seven off the pace.

6:36PM PDT: Well Coco went, but he went as Matsui swung at strike three. Last chance for the A’s is Chris Carter.

6:33PM PDT: Before League walked Coco, the CSNCalifornia crew mentioned the two stars that adorn the jersey of League. This is a new thing MLB is doing to “award” or “honor” or “highlight” All-Stars, and sounds pretty lame if you ask me. Here are the details (and this is why Gio didn’t have them yesterday). Coco needs to get to second, can’t afford a GIDP from Matsui here.

6:29PM PDT: Scott Sizemore has barbeque plans for later this afternoon, first pitching swinging ground off of as expected M’s closer Brandon League. A’s have two outs to score one run and tie this thing up.

6:27PM PDT: Two pitches and he gets Halman to pop out to Coco Crisp. That sun as glaring in his eyes, he was sort of moving back and forth a bit with the glove up as additional shade and I was worried he was going to lose that like that crazy Game Two of the 1973 World Series where even Willie Mays couldn’t handle the sun (granted he was way past his prime and it was even sad watching him but still Mays could handle the routine fly).

6:24PM PDT: Fuentes gets Cust to strikeout. So he semi-works out of the mess he created for himself and with the powerful right-handed Greg Halman due up in what is a very exciting move for me Melvin opts to go with Fautino De Los Santos! I love FDLS and he is exciting to watch. Good to see him being stuck into a big high pressure situation here. The hope is he responds well and gets the strikeout happy Halman (31.7% K%).

6:21PM PDT: Smoak hits worse versus left-handed pitchers than right-handed pitchers yet we should’ve noted than none of the left-handed pitchers he has faced this year are Fuentes. Base-hit following the Kennedy walk makes it first and third with no one out as the M’s look to add an insurance run on the high-risk premium Fuentes.

6:17PM PDT: Brian Fuentes is in to face Kennedy (L), Smoak (S) (who hits poorly versus left-handed hurlers) and Dustin Ackley (L). Can’t really complain about that sort of usage as it is two left-handed hitters and a poor hitter versus LHPs. Still, I don’t think many fans feel confident with Fuentes in a tight game – I know I certainly don’t.

6:15PM PDT: So we head to the ninth M’s still up 2-1. Two anemic offenses and ours has proven more anemic so far today through eight. Not really a crown one shoots for.

6:07PM PDT: David Pauley in for the M’s. He like Laffey looks a lot better than he has been (1.41 ERA, 3.06 FIP) buffeted by an amazing BABIP (.216) and unreal strand rate (86.9%).

6:02PM PDT: So new pitcher Craig Breslow gets new hitter Franklin Gutierrez swinging to start the eighth. I have to think that Breslow is someone a lot of these teams looking for relief help could be calling Billy Beane about. He has been worth 0.3 WAR, has a 3.23 ERA despite a .362 BABIP. Most importantly he is left-handed. I could see the Yankees or Brewers having potential interest, though the Brewers’ decimated farm system doesn’t look like it’d have as much to offer as might New York’s, especially with the Yankees potentially being willing to do an overpay out of desperation. I love Breslow, but he is a valuable commodity in a good left-handed reliever who can also toss to righties, and relief pitchers are not as valuable to teams that are out of contention.

5:50PM PDT: Check that last comment. The M’s have gone to the pen – I have a feeling they are concerned with the rookie Pineda’s high innings count on the year. Also with the Mariners sort of lingering around in contention they may have trouble justifying sitting him if they can compete late in September which portends a bigger issue the club might be finding – I’ve read that quietly the M’s are happy Pineda wasn’t chosen for the All-Star Game as even one extra inning in that exhibition game would’ve added to this concern. Anyhow the Mariners have gone to the bullpen and are putting Aaron Laffey into this ballgame. Laffey the lone southpaw in the Seattle bullpen has one of the bigger ERA/FIP discrepancies of any pitcher we’ve seen this year with an ERA of 1.93 and an FIP of 4.20. He has  been worth -0.1 WAR though I imagine that great ERA hides the middling utility he offers.

5:46PM PDT: Ziggy gets Greg Halman swinging to end the top of the seventh and keep the deficit to one. A’s need to play some catch up here and the good news is this could be Michael Pineda‘s last inning of work. The bad news is they still likely will have to contend with All-Star Brandon League in the ninth in all likelihood so the eighth inning may be their one good shot.

5:42PM PDT: McCarthy walks Cust and Bob Melvin goes to the bullpen to get Brad Ziegler. There will be no win for McCarthy today.

5:38PM PDT: Justin Smoak doubles into the right-field corner which scores running on the pitch Brendan Ryan. So where there is Smoak there is fire and the M’s take a 2-1 lead. McCarthy’s run support has just been abysmal this year is what I was thinking. Interestingly enough, he actually fares a lot better than many A’s entering today with 3.4 RS/GS putting him fourth among the seven pitchers with at least five starts.

5:25PM PDT: Josh Bard scrapes the back of the outfield fence with his first home run of 2011 and the M’s tie this game 1-1.

5:20PM PDT: Pineda sure is dealing now. Problem is his earlier high pitch count is coming back to haunt him. Pineda has thrown more strikes than Brandon McCarthy has thrown pitches. Otherwise comparable lines for the two through five innings a piece.

  R H BB K Pitches Strikes
McCarthy 0 1 1 4 55 37
Pineda 1 2 1 7 84 56

5:12PM PDT: Great play by Conor Jackson to save a double off the wall by Jack Cust and then a great throw to double off Justin Smoak whose lack of confidence in CoJax’ glove comes back to get him. Inning ending double play 7-3, great stuff!

5:07PM PDT: Any feeling that Michael Pineda may not be on his game today has been erased, he is locked in again. Runs could be at a premium for Oakland today. Of course, if the A’s were facing the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate Tacoma Rainiers runs still very well could be at a premium sadly…

4:48PM PDT: McCarthy has set down all nine guys he has faced. My understanding is that McCarthy is still arbitration eligible for next year. I really want to hang onto him. Just thing he brings a lot to the table.

4:38PM PDT: Kurt Suzuki drives home Hideki Matsui. A’s are on the board first 1-0.

4:35PM PDT: Bad strikeout from David DeJesus there. Pineda is a great pitcher but you need to try and make contact or something, and if Carter is walking – no excuse for DeJesus not to be better at pitch selection.

4:33PM PDT: Chris Carter walks – didn’t know he did that, his first of the year. Pineda isn’t doing so great here…

4:24PM PDT: Two more strikeouts for McCarthy as he gets Jack Cust down on strikes. 11 of the 15 pitches in the seconds are strikes so wow, McCarthy’s pinpoint control is working.

4:10 PM PDT: McCarthy looking good. Strikes out two in the top of the first (Brendan Ryan and Adam Kennedy) nine of the ten pitches in the inning were strikes. Good to have him back! He is a good guy and a good pitcher which is a great combination.

4:02PM PDT: Brandon McCarthy makes his long awaited return. He enters the game with 2.0 WAR – which prior to yesterday’s start by Gio Gonzalez had him tied for the lead in WAR among A’s pitchers (Gio is now at 2.2). Which demonstrates two things, I) McCarthy was very good and II) the A’s starting pitching while it has been exceptional really has been spread over so many different hurlers. Anyhow despite a weak 1-4 record, McCarthy has a 3.39 ERA and even more impressive 2.46 FIP – he really has been a sore luck loser for this club. Michael Pineda starting for the M’s meanwhile is on the fast-track to being the American League Rookie of the Year, in his sixteen starts he is 7-5 with a 2.65 ERA, and while he hasn’t quite played that well benefiting from some luck (.245 BABIP, a 77.7% strand rate) he also has been dealing (8.7 K/9). Lineup changes for Oakland – Cliff Pennington has lost his #2 spot it’d seem as for the second straight game, Scott Sizemore owns the two hole and Pennington is back hitting ninth.

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