Recap: A’s @ Astros Game 100
Wrap: Houston 5, Oakland 4. A’s 58-42 (1st Place, 3 games ahead)
June 12, 2007 was the last time the Astros beat the A’s. Of the 33 players in that game, one is dead (Joe Kennedy, the A’s starting pitcher) and 21 others are no longer playing baseball. It took the Astros eleven innings but a Brad Ausmus single off of Ron Flores scored Carl Everett to end the game with a 5-4 Astros win. Well the Astros won 5-4 again. It again was a walk off win, for their first nine-inning win over the A’s and they won it in what for A’s fans was terrible fashion. Grant Balfour, who had not blown a save in 44 attempts (an Athletics record) since April 29th of last year, blew his first in 26 tries this season. Matt Dominguez hit a two run home run off of Balfour to tie the game 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth. Subsequently Balfour would allow a double to Jonathan Villar, walk Jose Altuve before a pitch in the dirt briefly eluded Derek Norris. Villar broke for third then froze in his tracks. Altuve broke from second but didn’t freeze and Norris threw to Brandon Moss at first to get him out. Except the throw sailed into right field. Villar scored from second. Game over. The A’s have lost many times, often in awful fashion but I can’t remember a walk off win ending in such a silly and stupid manner such as this one. That said, these are the types of games that typically befall teams like, well, the Astros. The A’s thanks to a blown save by Joe Nathan in Texas still have a three game lead in the division, so it makes it a bit easier to sweat this loss.
Four runs on nine hits didn’t get it done tonight whereas four runs on eight hits got it done yesterday, so is the game of baseball. The hitting wasn’t so evenly divided in this with Donaldson going 3-for-3 with a double and HBP and Crisp going 2-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts. Moss had a two run home run in the eighth inning that gave the A’s the 4-2 lead they’d eventually squander. Good news is that Yoenis Cespedes after missing the four games coming off the break saw action and as a pinch-hitter then subsequent designated hitter, went 1-for-2 with a double. Hopefully he can begin contributing in the upcoming days. It is annoying to think that he hurt himself in all likelihood participating in the Home Run Derby which is an event so stupid that it is insulting to stupid things to call it stupid.
While Balfour gets all the pitching attention in this one for his one-third of an inning during which he allowed three runs (two earned), three hits (including the Dominguez home run) and a walk, the other guys actually pitched a really good game. Parker who continues to improve, has now brought his ERA down to 3.79. He has brought his ERA down in each of his last 15 starts dating back to April 25th against the Orioles when his ERA rose from 7.50 to 8.10. In this ballgame he entered with a 3.95 and managed to shave 0.16 off that number with his seven innings of 93 pitch, one earned run (two overall), five hit, two walk, four K baseball. Fielding was a problem for A’s pitchers as both Balfour and Parker got dinged for unearned runs the result of the A’s three errors. Ironically both pitchers had errors themselves, Parker’s resulting in a run, otherwise Balfour’s error did not result in a run, it merely moved Justin Maxwell from first to second before Norris’ error ended his night and the game. Doolittle did lots, facing the minimum and striking out one.
The zero goes to Balfour. Like a kicker who misses a field goal or even worse an extra point, the closer gets burned when they don’t do what is normally automatic. Norris earns honorable mention because he ultimately is the one who blew the game, but Balfour set it all in motion. Not giving Dominguez a pitch begging to be smoked. Not putting on two runners after that happened, and we are talking about a different scenario. Balfour has been a pro, I just bought a shirsey of his (as if this level of commitment on my part is of such significant and utmost importance), but today he clanked it off the upright.