Unfortunately that bang was the team crashing back down to Earth after a week of nothing but positives. Between a walk-off win to close the first half, Yoenis Cespedes winning the home run derby and Grant Balfour pitching a scoreless inning in the All-Star game, the A’s were riding pretty high following the All-Star Break.
That all stopped on Friday night in Anaheim as the Angels dominated the A’s from start to finish. Jered Weaver continued his mastery of the Green and Gold, as he extended his scoreless innings streak against the A’s to 24 with six-and-two-thirds innings of shutout baseball. A.J. Griffin, on the other hand, struggled, allowing four runs in five innings, including three solo homers.
The Angels got on the board first when Josh Hamilton drilled a double off of Griffin to score J.B. Shuck who led off the game with an infield hit. Once opening up a 1-0 lead the Halos flexed their muscles. Albert Pujols in the third, then Eric Aybar (he’s the worst*) and Mike Trout in the fifth all launched solo home runs off of Griffin to put Anaheim ahead 4-0 through five.
A 4-0 deficit against Weaver might as well be 40-0. But, finally, in the ninth inning against Kevin Jepsen, Oakland’s offense came to life. Brandon Moss singled to right and went to second when Hamilton bobbled the ball in right field. Then Chris Young laced a double into left center to score Moss, who blew through a stop sign from Third Base Coach Mike Gallego and was only safe due to a poor relay throw into the catcher. Nonetheless, the A’s were on the board trailing 4-1.
Anaheim’s closer Ernesto Frieri came in to the game for Jepsen and shut the door on the A’s. He retired all three batters he faced including a strikeout of Seth Smith.
The loss was seemingly the kind of loss the A’s always take against Weaver. The right hander dominated into the seventh and Oakland fell too far behind to scratch their way back against Anaheim’s bullpen.
Perhaps the biggest thing to take away from this game is that Griffin continues his bouts with inconsistency. The big right hander has had four starts where he pitched seven or more shutout innings. However, he’s also had eight instances where he’s given up four or more runs. Griffin has shown he has the stuff to get Major League hitters out, but he leaves way too many pitches up in the zone and out over the plate. Those kind of mistakes can’t happen on a regular basis, and Griffin has too many games where those mistakes are a common occurrence.
It will be an interesting storyline heading down the stretch into August how the A’s starting pitching staff shakes out. Sonny Gray was good again in relief on Friday night. The young righty gave up a hit and a walk while striking out three in two innings. If Milone, Griffin or Straily begin to struggle over an extended period of time, the A’s have to look at Gray as the guy to take over the role of a struggling starter.
The Athletics will look to navigate their way into the win column on Saturday evening in Southern California with Dan Straily set to take on southpaw C.J. Wilson.
-- The A’s haven’t scored more than three runs since their series finale in Kansas City on July 7.
–Oakland is 4-9 when allowing four runs this season.
– Texas lost again so the A’s maintain their two game lead in the American League West. Oakland has lead the division since June 28, and hasn’t trailed in the division since June 23.
– Yoenis Cespedes was a late scratch from Friday’s game with left wrist soreness. The extent of the injury is unknown, but there were some good signs. First, Bob Melvin had the Home Run Derby Champ on his lineup card until the very last second. Second, Cespedes was in the dugout during the game and didn’t seem to be favoring his wrist at all. This does validate people that feared for his health when he was chosen to participate in the Home Run Derby, despite the fact his wrist allegedly didn’t hurt until prior to today’s game.
– Oakland is now 5-2 against Anaheim this season. They have six of their next nine games against the Halos.
– I despise Erick Aybar as a baseball player out of respect. Not knocking his ability, but holy crap is he pest. Between him, Chone Figgins and David Eckstein — the Angels continue a long lineage of annoying, scrappy middle infielders that find ways to kill the A’s.