The series finale between the Oakland Athletics and the Pittsburgh Pirates had to wait 2 hours and 50 minutes before getting under way this evening, and the game was certainly not worth the wait. Sometimes the game simply doesn’t go your way in any aspect, and tonight was just one of those nights. Pirates starter Francisco Liriano carved up the A’s lineup for 7 innings, and after the first inning the A’s never really had a chance to get on the board aside from a two out rally in the third.
The rally in the first inning came to a screeching halt when Yoenis Cespedes dribbled a ball down the first base line that was fielded by Liriano. He tagged Cespedes and gunned the ball towards third base where Coco Crisp had rounded past the base just a little too far. Crisp was out convincingly, as was the A’s best chance to score.
Liriano would allow just 4 hits over his 7 innings of work, he struck out 6. Tommy Milone had the shortest outing of his career as he battled himself and was clearly not at his best in the tough situation of a game taking place late at night in less than ideal conditions. He allowed two baserunners in each of the first two innings, but managed to escape unharmed, but he would not be so fortunate in the 3rd inning. Two doubles and a single to start the inning put the first two runs on the board, and an error by Grant Green as he attempted to nab Russell Martin on a double play ball. Green’s throw went into the camera well, and Martin was awarded second base. Pedro Alvarez promptly drove Martin in with a single to make it 3-0. The inning was clearly spiraling out of control. Milone would face two more hitters before being relieved by Pat Neshek.
Milone’s line was 2.2 innings, 7 hits, 3 ER, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts as he took his 8th loss of the season.
The highlight of the night though was Sonny Gray’s MLB debut, and he electrified on the mound. He struck out both Clint Barmes and Francisco Liriano with devastating breaking balls, and got Starling Marte to fly out to deep right field. He allowed a hit to Jose Tabata in his second inning of work, but struck out Andrew McCutchen looking and retired the rest of the side in order. Needless to say, Sonny Gray’s outing proved he’s got the stuff to get legitimate hitters out.
Dan Otero and Jesse Chavez worked the final innings without incident in very nice mop up outings. So at least the majority of the bullpen will get two full days of rest in preparation for the Boston Red Sox on Friday night back in Oakland.
The A’s took a tough series on the road against 3 very good pitchers, so the team shall not hang their heads in shame because of this game’s result. The Texas Rangers lost as well, so they remain 1/2 game behind the Athletics in the AL West. The two teams haven’t been separated by more than a 1/2 game in what seems like an eternity, that could change tomorrow if the Rangers lose to the Baltimore Orioles. If they don’t, the two will be tied for first place going into the final series of the “first half.”