Tampa Bay 8, Oakland 6 (WPA Graph from Fangraphs)
A's Current Record: 12-9
The oft-cited cliche that sports come down to a matter of inches (and as Al Pacino would say, life is a game of inches) has become cliche for a reason --- it's often true. Last night's game was a perfect example, as it, and a little bit of history came down a to a few inches here or there.
Take Cliff Pennington, who had the game of his young career, going 4 for 5 with a home run, two doubles and 4 RBI, including a huge 3-run homer in the 3rd after the A's went down 4-0. The only blemish on his record was getting picked off on a phantom tag in the first. But, this could have been an even more memorable game, as Pennington's 6th inning double was really a triple, which would have meant that Pennington would have hit for the cycle. Granted, yes, it was the right call that it was a ground-rule double, but I've always hated that the umpires don't use their discretion to award extra bases --- that was a clear triple and not only was Pennington robbed of his cycle, but the A's lost a crucial run.
Take the A's 3rd inning, where they mounted a great comeback after Ben Sheets gave up 4 runs in the 2nd (2 with 2 out) --- after scoring 4 to tie the game, Landon Powell crushed a ball deep to right with 2 on, but it died about 2 feet short of the fence. A 3-run HR there would have been huge and also knocked Wade Davis out of the game. But the difference between a harmless flyout and a 3-run bomb there was just a matter of feet.
Take Pat Burrell's go-ahead 3-run HR off Sheets in the 3rd --- it was a decent shot but just barely got out. A couple of feet shorter, and it would have been a harmless out rather than the knockout blow. Granted, Sheets did not look particularly great (though his velocity was up a tick, at 93-95 if the Rays' radar gun is to be believed) and gave up two homers and a lot of hard-hit balls. He hasn't looked like a $10 million ace as of yet, but I do think after a year off he needs some time to get back to form.
So, the A's scored more than 4 runs and lost a game for the first time all year, and I feel like every time that happens will feel like this game --- a waste of offense. How often are you going to get 9 TB from Cliff Pennington or a 4 for 4 night from Adam Rosales? One final note -- Daric Barton had his worst game of the year, going 0 for 5 and made outs in two huge 2nd and 3rd, 2 out situations. It might be a coincidence, but he does have a broken finger --- if his effectiveness continues to diminish, the A's should think about DLing him.