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Live Blogging: Rays @ A’s Game 103

July 26, 2011

9:40PM PDT: There’s your ballgame. A’s win! Not an easy team to beat in Tampa Bay but that makes it two straight. Brandon McCarthy had a great eight inning outing. The A’s offense really hummed. 7-4 since the All-Star break and now three games up on the reeling Mariners who lost their seventeenth straight today in New York though still 12 1/2 out of the West leading Rangers and 16 back of the Wild Card leading Yankees – so while it is nice, the season ultimately still is for all intents and purposes over.

9:31PM PDT: Grant Balfour is coming in to finish this game versus his former teammates. Balfour comes into his 41st game, sporting stellar numbers: 9.2 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 0.7 HR/9 and an 87.3% strand rate giving him a 2.03 ERA and still tidy 3.11 FIP. He faces the 6-7-8 hitters, so hopefully it is smooth sailing and we can all go to bed. Nice to have this short game after yesterday’s tediously lengthy affair.

9:25PM PDT: Bailey can sit right down because Kurt Suzuki just rockets a double to the gap in right center and Jackson and Sizemore score. The A’s get two insurance runs and lead this thing 6-1.

9:15PM PDT: Ben Zobrist takes McCarthy deep to right field. Bound to happen because as mentioned earlier he hasn’t been yielding the HRs, came into today’s game with an unsustainable 3.5% HR/FB ratio. Despite that, still a great outing despite the slight hiccup there, McCarthy is the real deal. The solo shot cuts the A’s lead to 4-1. Grant Balfour is up in the bullpen, but perhaps this means Andrew Bailey now will be warming up?

9:12PM PDT: McCarthy is still pitching here into the eighth inning. I’d love to see him left in for a shutout but at 97 pitches to enter the eighth I think that is unlikely. I’m with Nolan Ryan and the other people who oppose hard pitch counts.

9:04PM PDT: Price is done after an uneven outing. Six innings, seven hits, four earned runs, four walks, four strikeouts. New pitcher for Tampa Bay is Jay Buente who is making his Rays debut. He has spent his entire career prior to now in the Marlins organization, and made one start for the Fish this year – a three inning start. He hasn’t been used as a starter much in the minors so not sure why he got the start, perhaps a planned bullpen game from the start due to an injury or something? Regardless in the minors he has been a high strikeout, decent walk type pitcher, but in his fourteen inning long MLB career has struggled with control walking a batter an inning.

8:54PM PDT: Pennington keeps it up, smashing a double off the wall in left scoring Sizemore. It’s come in little pieces but it has come, A’s are up 4-0 now on David Price and the Rays. Good work getting what they can off a very talented pitcher.

8:35PM PDT: RBI double off the wall for Hideki Matsui. Off the bat looked like it could’ve been gone on the hanger. Joyce plays it terribly off the wall that a faster runner would’ve made it a pretty easy triple. Drives home Pennington, A’s add on and make it 3-0. Run support McCarthy! Real life run support!

8:27PM PDT: Hasn’t always been pretty tonight but McCarthy has gotten it done keeping the Rays scoreless through five. This game is sort of the opposite of what he has done all year. Most games, he does very little to get himself in trouble but it always ends up worse than it should, and today he does stuff to get himself into trouble and skates by. Despite that his FIP for the game is still a very good 2.99 at this point so no serious complaints.

8:26PM PDT: It is crazy to think that Johnny Damon is tied with Babe Ruth for anything (he is now tied with him at 506 career doubles). While I see how all the career numbers sort of add up to a HOF career – in all honesty has there ever been a time anyone would have Johnny Damon on their list of Top 10 in the sport at any given time? How can you get into the HOF if you aren’t even in that conversation? Think of how many guys were very much so a part of that conversation for a relatively long time yet didn’t get in – or even in some cases merit any attention at all? Guys like Steve Garvey or Jose Canseco come to mind.

8:17PM PDT: Another walk from David Price. The normally very controlled pitcher has walked three guys now (to only two K’s) including Scott Sizemore who just walked for the second time.

8:14PM PDT: That was a far more productive at bat for DeJesus than the other one. Hits it way deep to Desmond Jennings in left field. Josh Willingham is able to score, and it was even deep enough that Conor Jackson tagged from first to second. A’s up 2-0.

8:00PM PDT: There we go! Everyone’s psyches saved. B.J. Upton rolls over into a 6-4-3 double play. Two pitches and two outs, can’t be much more efficient than that to start the fourth.

7:59PM PDT: Kotchman aboard so 1-2-3 inning out the window. Need a GIDP, or something. Can’t allow a run, or even a rally just not good psychologically for perhaps me? Might not effect the team, but it effects my psyche.

7:55PM PDT: Weeks hits it midway to right field. Matt Joyce follows it up with a terrible throw well up the line that Rays catcher Robinson Chirinos stood no chance of making a play and Sizemore scores easily to give the A’s a 1-0 lead. Regardless of however many more runs the A’s score, they need Brandon McCarthy to have a 1-2-3 top half. In Detroit, McCarthy kept giving back runs.

7:52PM PDT: Good strong hit into center-field from Cliff Pennington. Love the aggressive running by Scott Sizemore to ensure he gets to third. 10th straight game with a hit for Pennington. Brings up Jemile Weeks with a RISP, he comes in with these numbers with RISP: .394/.400/.455. That’ll come down a bit, he has a .419 BABIP in that situation, but still that’s the sort of spark we need.

7:35PM PDT: I like that Bob Melvin is playing David DeJesus despite his terrible numbers versus LHPs. He obviously gets that this is a statistical fluke and that things will work themselves out to a degree and inch more towards normal. That all said, why not bat him further down in the lineup? (Of course an inning ending GIDP made me think about that again – though I had the thought prior and you’ll have to take my word for it)

7:30PM PDT: CSNCalifornia just posted something I had meant to talk about earlier and forgot. But tonight with Price taking the mound, the Rays break the record of most consecutive games started (by a pitcher) under the age of 30 – a whopping 704 consecutive games. Bill Chastain of highlights that,

“Jae Seo was the last pitcher 30 or older to start a game for the Rays when he did so against Seattle on his 30th birthday on May 24, 2007. Prior to that, the Rays had not started a pitcher 30 or older since 32-year-old Mark Hendrickson made a start against Atlanta on June 25, 2006.

In the 702 games since starting their streak, the Rays have used just 14 starters, which is the fewest in the Major Leagues. Each of the 14 was either drafted and developed by the Rays (eight) or acquired by trade (six).”

And we wonder why they are a successful franchise? Incredible statistics and further proof of the importance of drafting well. While it is easy to say that however, it has to acknowledged that drafting well requires a great deal of luck as well.

7:23PM PDT: Casey Kotchman gets a single off McCarthy. Kotchman is having a renaissance of sorts this year. Comes into tonight’s matchup: .325/.388/.450 with a .366 wOBA and 134 wRC+. After years and years of underwhelming with so many different organizations, could Kotchman be a late bloomer at 28?

6:58PM PDT: Brandon McCarthy – the A’s most valuable player at 2.5 WAR – gets the nod today for the A’s against David Price and the Rays. Many find it difficult to fathom how McCarthy can be more valuable than Gio Gonzalez (2.0 WAR) in particular. Where McCarthy benefits is his very strong FIP (2.60) – which is influenced by his very low walk rate (1.5 BB/9) , OK K rate (5.9 K/9) and exceptional HR rate (0.3 HR/9). McCarthy has however suffered with a terrible BABIP (.318), which we’ve seen in the form of countless balls deflected off gloves, etc and all sorts of nonsense that seems to befall McCarthy anytime he takes the hill adding up to poor strand rate (61.9%) as well. While I like the Fangraphs method of WAR and everything you see on this site always uses their calculation, the opinion on McCarthy is widely divergent between Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference as bWAR has McCarthy the fifth best pitcher on the team tied with Tyson Ross (who has pitched a little over a third of the innings McCarthy has pitched). The key difference in their calculations is how they view hits, which explains the discrepancy (one day I will go into this further). There is little argument that the man we’re facing is a good pitcher, as David Price enters tonight’s game with a 3.21 FIP and 3.0 WAR, with 8.7 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9. He will face an A’s lineup identical to that of last night with the exception of David DeJesus and Conor Jackson being swapped in the lineup with DeJesus struggling against left-handed pitchers and CoJax hitting them quite well.

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