If there were a Ten Commandments of Baseball, then one of them would be: Thou shalt always drive in the runner from 3rd with fewer than two outs. It's one of the fundamental things that good teams do and bad teams struggle with. You don'...
If there were a Ten Commandments of Baseball, then one of them would be: Thou shalt always drive in the runner from 3rd with fewer than two outs. It's one of the fundamental things that good teams do and bad teams struggle with. You don't always need to mash homers to score runs; sometimes, it only takes a slow grounder to short or a routine fly ball to the outfield in a given situation.
Oakland stranded a combined 26 baserunners in the first two games of this series in Texas, but they managed to win both contests. That magic did not continue this afternoon, as they wasted chance after chance to cash in on gift-wrapped scoring opportunities. This was a game ripe for the taking, and Oakland left it on the table.
After the 1st inning, it didn't appear that this one would come down to a couple of missed opportunities. Jarrod Parker, who has settled down in May after a rough start to the season, was in full April form for the first four batters of the afternoon. Elvis Andrus singled sharply through the hole on the left side, David Murphy homered to the 2nd deck in right, Lance Berkman flew out, and Adrian Beltre hit a 600-foot homer to dead center. Panic! Send Parker to Sacramento! No, release him! He's terrible! Bring up Sonny Gray! Convert Cespedes to a starting pitcher!
Luckily, baseball games last longer than one inning. After serving up bombs to Murphy and Beltre on a pair of plump, juicy, elevated fastballs, Parker settled down and faced two batters over the minimum through the 7th inning. After giving up hits to three of the first four batters, he allowed only three hits and a walk the rest of the way and benefited from a couple of double plays. His final line: 7 innings, 3 runs, 6 hits, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts. That is a quality start, and it's a win more often than not. Parker pitched a good game.
Unfortunately, that particular quality start is only a win if the hitters contribute. The Rangers, who are missing Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis, and Alexi Ogando from their rotation, turned to a guy named R Wolf for a spot start. No, it wasn't Randy Wolf, but rather a relief pitcher named Ross Wolf who last appeared in the Majors in 2010 as a member of the Athletics. A logical person would assume that facing an unknown reliever for 5 innings would result in a smorgasbord of offense, but A's fans know better. No one gets baffled by unknown pitchers like the Oakland Athletics. Someone should really invent a device that can record a pitcher so that hitters can familiarize themselves with him before facing him for the first time. We can call it "videotape." Patent pending.
Cy Wolf wasted no time in embarrassing Oakland's lineup. He was perfect the first time through the order, retiring nine straight batters in the first three innings. Granted, Coco Crisp and Josh Donaldson each smashed the ball, but BABIP The Vengeful Baseball Deity placed both hits directly in Ranger gloves. Elvis Andrus also flashed some leather (which would be one of the themes of the day), ranging ridiculously far to his right to retire Cespedes on a ball that most shortstops couldn't have reached with a lacrosse stick.
The second time through the order went much better for the A's. Coco Crisp led off the 4th with a single, and Cespedes hit an absolute laser into the left field corner for a double. With runners on 2nd and 3rd, Brandon Moss executed the only piece of successful situational hitting that the A's would see all night, lofting a lazy fly ball to center for a sacrifice fly. The score was 3-1 Rangers, and neither team would score again for the rest of the day.
The next three innings were an exercise in absolute torture for A's fans. This game actually violated the 8th Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment, and I have filed a grievance with both the league and the Supreme Court. Wolf walked Seth Smith to lead off the 5th, and Derek Norris followed with a double down the right-field line. Oakland had runners on 2nd and 3rd with nobod