Well I pulled out my crystal ball, predicting that this series would go 2-2 and indeed it did. What was so frustrating was that you could see the team starting to fire on all cylinders, and then something would break the momentum. The offense is still really shaky, especially in clutch situations.
Bartolo shut us down for 6.
I mean… I love big sexy as much as the next guy, but he’s certainly not an ace anymore. This A’s offense, especially with the potential for big power numbers, was supposed to be one of the best in the league and we can’t quite put it together yet. It seems like guys know that they should be slugging better which is making them press a little.
The clearest indicator of this to me was the strikeouts. Cole Hamels is great, and has had a fantastic career. Having said that, there is no way he should be striking out 11 major league hitters in 5 IP unless the umpire is calling strikes 6″ off the plate (which he wasn’t). This problem persisted despite the fact that we roughed up Doug Fister, he still struck out 5 in 3 2/3 IP, a high number for a guy that relies on sinkers.
Even in the wins from this series, it felt as though we could have put up way more runs on the scoreboard if we hadn’t struck out in key situations. Being happy to score one or two runs in an inning when you could have had 4 or 5 is the difference between an average offense and a frightening one. The A’s were terrible with men in scoring position and less than two outs. You just have to get the job done in that scenario, especially if our pitching is going to be less than flawless.
Moving on to the pitching: honestly, it hasn’t been terrible. Yes, you don’t want Graveman or Mengden to only go 5 innings at a time, but considering the trouble they had early, they didn’t turn in terrible performances. Graveman especially showed a lot of grit to get out of trouble, especially because it didn’t seem like he could throw his fastball for a strike all game.
Sean Manea is turning into a top tier pitcher one start at a time. This time throwing 8 innings on one run, bringing his total to 15 2/3 IP through two starts. He said exactly what I noticed in his post game interview which was that he is no longer trying to strike out every batter. He’s walking fewer people, getting ahead in the count early, and keeping his fielders engaged in the action. Everything you want a starting pitcher to do.
All in all, I just hope the rest of the bats can catch up to Matt Chapman. The future gold glove third baseman has pretty much been our only bright spot offensively, hitting for average as well as power with a slash line of .400/.455/1.088 through his first 30 ABs.
Looking forward to this Angels series and our first road trip of the season, I’m predicting 2-1 series win for the A’s. I think that getting away from the coliseum will actually be good for the offense, especially with balls carrying farther in that small ballpark in Anaheim.