What more can be said about tonight’s loss in Milwaukee? The Athletics were cruising along, leading the Brewers 3-0 thanks to two Yoenis Cespedes home runs and 7 shutout innings from A.J. Griffin, then came Sean Doolittle. Normally the man for whom the bell tolls is about as automatic as it gets when it comes to preserving a late lead, but for the third time in a row he was unable to keep the opposition off the board. He threw all of 4 pitches and allowed 2 singles and a triple to Jean Segura to make it a 3-2 ballgame with Segura representing the tying run at third with nobody out. That was all we would see from Doolittle. Ryan Cook was handed the impossible task of stranding Segura at third, he got Ryan Braun to ground out for the first out but allowed a broken bat single to Aramis Ramirez to tie the game. This counts as a blown save for Cook, and serves as an indication of how silly that stat really is.
After Jerry Blevins performed another Houdini act in the bottom of the 9th inning, walking two (one intentionally) and hitting a batter before leaving the bases loaded to send the game to extras. Pat Neshek surrendered the fateful run on a 2 out double by Yuniesky Betancourt in the bottom of the 10th.
Obviously the bulk of the blame for this loss rests on the shoulders of Sean Doolittle, who after seeming unhittable has become unmissable for the opposing hitter’s bats. Whether it’s mechanical, mental, or physical, it’s obvious that he’s not right at the moment and Bob Melvin needs to exercise caution with him. I’m not advocating that Doolittle be jettisoned from the setup role, but maybe his next few outings should be in less pressure situations so he can hopefully rebuild his confidence. If he’s unable to convert scoreless innings there, then we have a serious problem. For now though, maybe Jerry Blevins should handle the lefty setup duties.
The offense is also to blame for this loss, if anyone besides Yoenis Cespedes had been able to produce, we might have had a better result. Cespedes showed signs of once again being the offensive force he was in 2012. If he starts to heat up, the Athletics will be just fine, but the team left 9 runners on base to continue the disturbing trend of missed chances.
Lost in the late inning frustration was the phenomenal pitching by A.J. Griffin. He allowed just 4 hits in 7 shutout innings, he walked a single batter as well and struck out 5 in a no decision that should have been a win. He was in need of a good outing, and he got it tonight but unfortunately was not able to get the victory.
Today’s loss also represents a huge missed opportunity to be right on the heels of the Texas Rangers, a win would’ve put them just 1/2 game behind them after their 17-5 beatdown at the hands of the Boston Red Sox. The A’s remain 1.5 games behind Texas and their record now sits at 35-25. They still have won 15 of their last 18 games, and that is still a phenomenal run. But as we all know, the Athletics won the AL West in 2012 by a single game, so no loss is insignificant. The A’s can still take the series tomorrow as Bartolo Colon (6-2, 3.33 ERA) will attempt to ignore the swirling PED talk regarding the Biogenesis clinic, he’ll be opposed by the ace of the Brewers Yovani Gallardo (4-5, 5.05 ERA).