Tampa Bay 10, Oakland 3 (WPA Graph from Fangraphs)
A's Current Record: 12-10
When I hear a manager or columnist talk about the "little things that don't show up in the boxscore" I tend to roll my eyes. I tend to think that things like the sacrifice bunt, hitting behind the runner, and sound baserunning are called little things because they actually are little things. The first half of last night's game made me rethink the importance of the little things. The second half reminded me why I am quick to dismiss the power of things that don't show up in the boxscore.
Let's start with the little things. If the game had stayed close, as the score through four and a half innings seemed to indicate, then the first few innings would have deserved a lot of scrutiny. Dallas Braden looked shaky right off the start, but the A's defense really didn't do him any favors. Braden got into some trouble in the first, giving up an infield single to Carl Crawford and a seeing eye single to Ben Zobrist. Crawford's single was plain bad luck, but I was a bit surprised that Kouzmanoff couldn't get to Zobrist's grounder. Perhaps if Crawford not been on first, Pennington would have been playing more in the hole and had a play on the ball, but the ball was hit softly enough that it looked like someone should have made a play. Pennington did make a nice play on Longoria's grounder to get Zobrist out at second.
Braden got out of the first untouched, but the second was another story. To start the inning, Braden left a pitch up in the zone to BJ Upton who lined a double to right-center. With one out, Gabe Kapler flipped a pitch on the outside corner into left field putting runners on the corners. The next hitter, John Jaso, nubbed a grounder to Daric Barton at first. Upton was running on contact and was trying to score. Barton threw home...well he tried to throw home, but his throw was high and wide and went past Jake Fox. Any non-terrible throw would have gotten the out at the plate, but as it was, the Rays had scored and had runners on first and third again. Jason Bartlett followed with a pop up to shallow right. Second baseman Adam Rosales seemed to have the ball the whole way, but he pulled up short and let the ball fall to the ground. Rosales seemed to have been scared off by Ryan Sweeney, but Sweeney wasn't particularly close to Rosales. Physical errors do happen and there's not much you can do about them. Still, the A's very well could have escaped the inning without the Rays scoring had they simply been able to execute.
The Rays defense gave the A's a run in the fourth, but took one away in the fifth. Sweeney led off the fourth with a double. With one out, Kouzmanoff hit a routine grounder to short, but Barlett airmailed the throw, allowing Sweeney to score. In the fifth, Eric Patterson led off with a single. Adam Rosales followed with a double to left, but Carl Crawford threw Patterson out at the plate.
In the end, none of this really mattered because the Rays pounded Braden and Tyson Ross in the fifth and added two homers off of Brad Kilby in the sixth. Braden didn't look good at all; he walked three, struck out one, and gave up a number of hard hit balls. Add in the fact that the Rays got a couple of grounders to find holes and that's a formula for a disastrous start. Tyson Ross had his first bad outing as well, facing 6 batters and allowing 4 of them to reach base. Meanwhile James Shields dominated the A's the rest of the way. In seven innings he struck out 12 and walked only one.
This game aside, the news on the injury front is a mixed bag. Barton homered in the first - hopefully an indicator that his injured hand isn't going to be a problem. Kurt Suzuki, however, was a late scratch from the game and has now missed four games in a row. Jake Fox, who Ray Fosse keeps calling Eric Fox, has been surprisingly not-too bad behind the plate, but terrible in the batters box. Hopefully Suzuki can come back soon and the rest of the A's get better by getting the heck away from the Rays.