The Swingin’ A’s were the Hapless A’s for most of today’s game, but still came out with the W to get back to .500 and split the series in Japan. At just under two-and-a-half hours the game moved quickly as it was a pitchers duel for the most part. Below are some good and some bad observations I had during this mornings game.
Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick — If there is going to be any power in the lineup, it’s going to come from these two guys. Reddick continues to hit the ball on the screws, but right at people. The flight back should be better with a double and a home run under his Championship belt. I am not labeling Cespedes as a mistake hitter, yet, but both of his home runs so far this spring have been on mistakes. I still like his approach at the plate and the more pitches he sees, the more he will improve.
Bartolo Colon — One pitch. One mistake. And it really wasn’t a mistake at that. Not many LHH’s are going to square up a pitch that is nearly in the other hitters box and drive it for a home run. Other than that, 8 innings, 85 pitches, 1 walk. Efficient. He had great movement on his pitches, used his change-up effectively, and used his sinker to keep lefties from diving over the plate. Hopefully he did not use up all his good innings early, but I like what I saw from him. He did load the bases once, but that would be as bad as it got.
Bullpen Use – Yesterday I felt that McCarthy should have gone back out for another inning. His pitch count justified it and he was inducing hella ground balls. Today, the bullpen got breather. Maybe because of the 4 innings of bullpen use yesterday, but still good to see. Colon’s pitch count again justified him staying in the game late, had not been hit hard, and was not walking people. Would have been happy to see him with a short leash in the ninth, but I can not argue too much with sending Balfour out there.
Josh Donaldson – I will give him this, the play he made on Figgins was outstanding. Slowly growing on me. Still needs to figure out the offensive part of the game, though.
Batting — Outside of the mistakes Cespedes, Gomes, and Reddick got, the A’s went 13 innings, between the two games, without scoring a run. Either they would swing early in the count and made weak contact or did not swing at all (looking at you Gomes), the A’s hitters so far have not looked like they have not had a plan going to the plate. Granted Hernandez can make the best look foolish, but having Vargas do the same should not happen. I understand it is only the second game of the season, but if that trend continues, the offense could be much worse than imagined.
Baserunning — For a second straight game the A’s tried to force the issue on the bases. After Weeks drew a walk in the sixth, the first runner the A’s had since the first, he got thrown out on what looks like a straight steal. Whether he was on his own or Melvin called for the steal, the is no reason for the A’s to try and force the issue. Especially when you’re down and haven’t had a runner in five innings.
A quick note on Melvin: he needs to let the game come to the players. When you have a roster constructed of mainly guys who are considered backups, utility players, fourth outfielders, and wannabe demigods, you can not force the game on them. Let the swing, do not hit and run, and for the sake of all the is green DO NOT BUNT WITH BRANDON ALLEN. Slow down, just let them play. This season is already seen as an experiment, do not try and over manage. That is the whole point, and joy, of a complete rebuild. It allows you to see what you have and who can really play.