I don’t watch Oakland Athletics baseball games like most baseball fans. In fact, me and a group of friends group text each other during the games to discuss possible strategic moves made, matchups that may come up and just your standard cheering and groaning! I like to look at things from a managerial standpoint. Here is a look at moves that may have worked, some that didn’t and some that left us scratching our heads.
The 2014 season didn’t get off to the start that most Athletics fans were hoping to see. But there were some exciting performances, Sonny Gray did a great job managing the game last night. There were some tight spots that he pitched out of last night with the help of some luck. The top of the 6th inning left me scratching my head a bit. After the play at the plate, where Gray made a “kick save” to keep the ball on the infield, David Murphy (left handed hitter) was due up with runners on 1st and 3rd. We all know the outcome but I was left wondering why Fernando Abad (left handed pitcher) wasn’t brought in to pitch to Murphy. Murphy may have been hit for in this situation but against a left handed pitcher, Abad, the Indians didn’t have a better option.
The next interesting situation happened in the bottom of the 8th (no not the Daric Barton baserunning blunder… yet). Barton had led off the inning with a sharp single up the middle, and Nick Punto was at the plate. I was very surprised to see Punto swinging away in this situation. I would have thought that Manager Bob Melvin would have Punto bunt Barton over in this situation. Lets flashback to the bottom of the 6th: Sogard drew a leadoff walk and Melvin had Coco Crisp, who had smoked the ball in his 2 previous at bats, lay down a sacrifice bunt. Now if you are going to have Crisp lay down a bunt in that situation, don’t you think Punto should have done the same? Again, it was all for not because Barton then went to second base on a wild pitch by Cody Allen.
Finally, we will move on to Barton’s baserunning blunder. We all know the situation but we will recap. Barton was on second base, Crisp was on first base with one out and Josh Donaldson at the plate. Donaldson blasts a ball that hit the padding at the very top of the center field wall. Barton was tagging up to try and take third base in this situation. As a former High School and Junior College baseball coach, we taught very basic fundamentals in this situation. Let me explain. There is absolutely no reason to tag up here. A simple three to four step “read” is what should have been done. What this does is allow a baserunner (Barton) to be that much closer to the next base if the ball is dropped, in this case it may have resulted in the games first run. IF the ball was caught, then Barton could have easily retreated to second base and remain in scoring position with 2 outs. To Barton’s defense it did look difficult to read if the ball was caught or not because Nyjer Morgan (Indians centerfielder) was between the ball and Barton’s view… all the more reason to do the 3-step read.
These are the questions my friends and I discuss while watching the games. There will be plenty of first and second guessing to go around this season. But that is why I love the Oakland Athletics, because they love to play matchups and the allow fans like myself to critique! Until next time A’s fans… Let’s Go Oakland! #LGO