Remember when the A’s shifted gears and started focusing on the importance of strong pitching and defense? Remember the day the A’s signed SP Ben Sheets to a one-year, $10 million contract? Do you recall when the A’s signed OF Coco Crisp to a $5 million contract? Or how about when the A’s traded for solid third baseman, Kevin Kouzmanoff?
I sure do. But on Monday night, the A’s newly designed defense was the deciding factor in their loss against the Seattle Mariners. The A’s made four errors, which is something they must avoid if they want to compete in the highly competitive American League West.
Kurt Suzuki committed two throwing errors, Daric Barton and Kevin Kouzmanoff also committed errors. Kouzmanoff’s error, however, was the most crucial. His high throw to first base on a seemingly routine ground ball helped Seattle load the bases for Casey Kotchman, who went 2-for-4 with 4 RBIs in his Seattle debut.
Ben Sheets, the A’s ace, went five innings allowing three runs to cross home-plate (two-earned) and walked four. It wasn’t a terribly good outing from Sheets, but considering that he has not pitched in a game since ’08, he wasn’t terribly bad either. Sheets’ curve looked pretty solid, and for the most part pitched to my expectations. I figure it’ll be awhile before we see the old Sheets, since he obviously has to shake off some of the rust.
Eric Chavez, who is now the full-time DH, went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. Chavez, who has remained healthy all spring, looked rusty as well in the batter’s box. Chavez, who was preparing for a utility role, still has not been informed about his new role on the team. Obviously Chavez will have to get used to the long breaks in between innings, and while just DH’ing is good for his back, swinging the bat could still hinder his surgically repaired shoulders. In all, however, it was real nice to see Chavvy out there on Monday night.
As expected, the A’s struggled against Felix Hernandez for most of the night. However, a late seventh inning rally helped the A’s get rid of the one they call “King Felix.” For the night, Hernandez pitched solidly, despite walking six A’s players.
Up until the seventh inning, the A’s were not much of a factor on offense. The A’s will need to score more runs this season if they have any chance at keeping up with the Angels and Mariners. They also need a strong performance out of their defense. Committing four errors is unacceptable, especially for a team who prides itself on its pitching and defense.
Hopefully, Dallas Braden will pitch well Tuesday and lead the A’s to a much needed victory.