The Big Inning

Every sport has its own quirks and attributes that make it unique.

With baseball, what marks the game out is that the action is separated into 18 pieces (usually) of three outs. The slate is clean at the start of each half-inning and is wiped clean again at the end of it. Within every half-inning, the job of the hitting team is to make the most of what they can with those three outs and for the pitcher it’s to try to limit the damage knowing that any base-runners disappear when the third out is made.

This may come across as baseball basics, but it is the main thing that stands out as I sit with a mug of coffee on this Sunday morning and ponder the A’s 4-0 loss against the Angels yesterday.

The linescore tells the tale: zeros all the way across the board except for the top of the fifth inning where a big fat “4” stands out like a sore thumb.

The catching error by Aramis Garcia that allowed the first run to score loomed large over the whole game, which was a shame for a relatively inexperienced catcher to have to deal with. What was interesting after the game was Frankie Montas’s admission that he let that one play get the better of him.

“I just got caught up in the moment,” Montas said. “As a pitcher, you need to keep your head straight. I got a little mad, and I shouldn’t get mad at my teammates for that”.

MLB.com

It says a lot about Frankie’s maturity that he was prepared to admit to that, as he knows as well as anyone that what he did is exactly what coaches at all levels constantly tell players to avoid. Don’t let an inning get out of hand. Don’t let a fielding error affect you on the next play that comes your way. Don’t dwell on a bad at-bat.

All of this is much easier said than done. That’s especially the case for someone like Frankie who has not had a lot of luck going his way this season. Perhaps there was a sense of ‘here we go again’ that led to him over-throwing in the rest of the inning before he could sit back down on the bench and compose himself again?

Who knows for sure, but what we do know is that the inning unravelled and the A’s never really threatened to get back into the game. The Angels’ starting pitcher Alex Cobb did a great job over seven innings; however he was helped by the fifth inning fiasco.

Whilst the slate is wiped clean at three outs, the runs scored before then do have an impact on what comes next. Cobb was looking too commanding to be given a nice cushion to work with and he took full advantage.

Hopefully the A’s can quickly put that loss behind them and come back to claim a 3-1 series win on Sunday.

Sunday’s game

It’s a 1.07pm start at the Coliseum today, making for another 21.07 UK-time first pitch.

Cole Irvin is on the mound for the A’s and it will be a good test for him. He started really well for us this season before hitting a bit of a bump in his last two outings, with his start on Tuesday against the Mariners being his shortest outing (4.2 IP) since his first start of the season.

This will be the first time he has faced the Angels, so he has the opportunity to get back on track against a team that hasn’t seen him before.

Return of the Messiah

Meanwhile, Bob Melvin confirmed yesterday that Jesús Luzardo will be activated from the Injured List today and be part of the bullpen. Luzardo never seemed to get into any sort of rhythm with his pitching before his bizarre injury, so in a strange way it may have been a blessing in disguise in just giving him a bit of breathing space to clear his mind and get back to basics.

The bullpen move appears to be a short-term thing, just based on us wanting him back on the roster sooner without him getting a full bunch of rehab games in beforehand.

It’s been a real feature of the team so far this season that the pitching staff has had the type of friendly one-upmanship rivalry that you love to see. Don’t be surprised if Cole Irvin sees Jesús in the bullpen, thinks “you’re not taking my spot” and puts in a strong outing today.

I’m sure Luzardo will be back in the rotation fairly soon though and expect him to be back to the Jesús we were all hoping to see this season.

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