Travis Blackley has not recorded a win in the Major Leagues since 2004 with the Seattle Mariners. While he showed some promise in his last start against the Twins, the Rangers showed him tonight that an 8 year and counting gap between wins happens for a reason. The Rangers tagged Blackley for 5 ER in just 4.2 innings, in an attack concentrated in a rocky 3rd inning. The feel good story of the A’s came to fruition tonight as former top 1B prospect turned reliever Sean Doolittle made his Major League debut. He came in to finish off the top of the 5th after Blackley was taken out, he struck out Nelson Cruz on nothing but 94-96 MPH fastballs. For good measure he retired the side in the 6th in order, adding two more strikeouts to his resume. In a night where the A’s didn’t have much to celebrate, Doolittle’s debut made everyone in the Oakland camp feel good.
TURNING POINT: Collin Cowgill got the A’s on the board with a 2 run homer in the bottom of the 5th inning, making the score 5-2 at that point. Yoenis Cespedes led off the bottom of the 6th by golfing a homer to left field making it 5-3. This was the A’s opportunity to get back in this game. Brandon Inge walked, and after a Jonny Gomes pop up, Kila Ka’aihue singled. The Rangers took out Derek Holland in favor of Alexi Ogando, and he slammed the door on the A’s rally, needing only 7 pitches to retire the final 2 outs of the inning. With the inconsistency of the A’s offense lately the A’s can ill afford to squander a rally, because when they do the odds of starting up another are slim.
ON THE HILL: Travis Blackley did get knocked around a bit tonight, but I would imagine he’ll get another shot to start. In his 4.2 innings, he allowed 5 ER on 7 hits, 2 walks, and he struck out 5. Sean Doolittle’s debut was again the highlight of the night, he dominated in his 1.1 innings with 3 strikeouts without allowing a baserunner. Grant Balfour had a very efficient 1-2-3 inning in the 7th, which is certainly nice to see. Andrew Carignan pitched 0.2 innings before leaving with apparent discomfort in his elbow, Jim Miller retired the final batter in the inning after giving up a hit. Brian Fuentes came in for the 9th to keep the Rangers lead at 2 and failed miserably at doing so, allowing a run on 3 hits, he seems fortunate to have escaped with just the 1 run.
AT THE PLATE: The A’s had their base runners tonight, just largely failed to cash in on most of their opportunities. The hot hitting Collin Cowgill extended his hitting streak another game with his 2 run homer, his AVG sits at .257 for the season. Yoenis Cespedes showed that his slight knee injury from last night did not affect his power stroke, he went 2-4 with the aforementioned home run. Kurt Suzuki did manage to collect a couple of base hits, at this point he needs every hit he can muster. If the recent pattern holds, we can expect another offensive outburst tomorrow night.
FINAL THOUGHTS: As remarkable as Monday night’s game was, this game lacked that same appeal. Not just because the A’s came out on the wrong end of this game, it’s just hard to follow a near no hitter and a rout like the A’s unleashed last night. Bartolo Colon (4-6, 4.34 ERA) takes on Colby Lewis (4-4, 3.50 ERA) as the A’s try to guarantee themselves at least a split in this 4 game set. Colby Lewis though can be potentially dominant, so the A’s will have to attack him early before he gets on a roll.
Topics: Alexi Ogando, Andrew Carignan, Bartolo Colon, Brandon Inge, Brian Fuentes, Colby Lewis, Collin Cowgill, Derek Holland, Grant Balfour, Jim Miller, Jonny Gomes, Kila Ka'aihue, Kurt Suzuki, Nelson Cruz, Oakland Athletics, Sean Doolittle, Travis Blackley, Yoenis Cespedes