A big part of what has brought the A’s back to relevance this season is not only their shocking rise to contention into the month of August, but the dramatic walk off wins that have gotten them to this point. The A’s got a bitter taste of their own medicine tonight as the Chicago White Sox’ Jordan Danks took Pat Neshek very (very) deep in the bottom of the 9th inning. It figures that on the same day our very own Devin Pangaro praises Pat Neshek as an unsung bullpen hero he serves up a fresh baked cookie to a guy without a Major League home run and gives him his first in walk off fashion. Bottom line, the A’s lost 4-3 by giving up 4 solo homers to the Pale Hose, c’est la vie.
There were some positives tonight without a doubt, first and foremost being the return of Brandon McCarthy to the A’s rotation. He wasn’t spectacular tonight, but he showed a fairly minimal amount of mound rust. He did make 3 pretty costly mistakes in allowing home runs to AJ Pierzynski (barf, more on him later), Alexei Ramirez, and Dayan Viciedo. Those 3 accounted for half the base hits McCarthy allowed, and the others were a walk and a HBP. The A’s had to be pleased with his outing, and most importantly he seemed to come through it without incident.
The A’s had their big chance to take control of this game in the 3rd inning, but Brandon Inge struck out on 3 pitches to end the A’s threat and let Gavin Floyd off the hook. Inge has been pretty solid with RISP, but it just wasn’t his night tonight. Brandon Moss continued to show some signs of life by hitting a 2 run homer in the 2nd inning, another hot streak from him would sure help cover the cold stretch from the pitching staff.
The two teams engaged in a little beanball war tonight as well as Yoenis Cespedes was drilled in the 5th inning, then AJ Pierzynski was hit by a McCarthy pitch in the 6th. In classic form AJ was none too please with the message and made sure everyone knew it. Time will tell if this issue resurfaces during the final 2 games of this series.
Travis Blackley returns to the rotation after a brief stint as the A’s long man, presumably in an effort to help limit the innings of all the A’s young arms. According to Susan Slusser this is expected to be a spot start for Blackley, but also serves as something of a safety net should McCarthy not fare so well in the days following his start. With the off days Blackley could theoretically take McCarthy’s next turn should it be necessary, and unfortunately with McCarthy’s history that is always a possibility. The A’s will see Francisco Liriano for the first time in a White Sox uniform, last time he faced the A’s was in Minnesota and he struck out 14 Athletics en route to a loss during the A’s sweep of the Twins at Target Field. Liriano is very similar to Zack Greinke whom the A’s saw on Wednesday in that he can be utterly dominant at times, and utterly hittable other times. He can be extremely wild so the A’s will have to focus on being patient at all costs. If he wants to get himself into trouble, the A’s have to let him, and then capitalize.