Friday’s game was decided on two very well struck balls – and both went against the A’s.
We’re not talking about the two Orioles homers off Dan Straily in the fourth inning. Those homers were overcome by the A’s.
We’re talking about a fifth-inning bullet hit by A’s first baseman Brandon Moss, and a seventh inning rocket off the bat of American League home run leader Chris Davis.
The fifth inning started with the A’s down three runs after the Orioles had put up a six-spot on Straily. But the A’s came right back with a single by Coco Crisp, a double to score him by Jed Lowrie and a single to bring Lowrie home by Josh Donaldson.
Those balls were all well struck. But none of them matched the clobbering Moss gave the pitch he saw from the Orioles’ Bud Norris. Moss had an RBI single and a solo homer in his first two at-bats, and this time he let fly with a laser only to see the ball land in the glove of second baseman Brian Roberts.
Donaldson, the runner at first base, had no chance to get back to the base and was doubled off.
“That’s the difference between two guys on and none out and two outs and nobody on,’’ Moss said. “That could have gone from a huge inning to a monster inning.’’
As it was, the A’s scored four times in the inning because the next three men Norris faced all reached base, and Eric Sogard greeted reliever Troy Patton with a two-run single that gave the A’s a 7-6 lead.
If Moss’s ball hadn’t been caught, there’s no telling what the lead might have been at that point.
“That’s the frustrating thing,’’ Moss said. “We were getting great at-bats.’’
Sogard was critically involved in the Davis play in the seventh. The AL homer leader came up with men on first and third and hit a one-hop rocket that reliever Ryan Cook said “Sogey makes the play on 99 percent of the time.’’
Sogard isn’t sure that it shouldn’t be 100 percent. But the ball had some topspin on it, and it deflected into right field. The tying run was going to score on the play no matter what, but Cook would have been facing a two-out, none-on situation instead of having no one out and men at the corners, both of whom scored.
“That was a crazy game,’’ Sogard said. “To go from that hit to that error, talk about an emotional swing. It was like nothing I’d ever felt before.
“This is going to be one that stays with me tonight.’’
–A’s starter Dan Straily didn’t allow a hit in the first three innings. He only got one out in the fourth, giving up four hits and six runs.
“That was a pathetic one-third of an inning,’’ Straily said.
It was not Straily at his finest, that’s for sure. He walked the first batter, then gave up a two-run bomb to Baltimore cleanup hitter Adam Jones. Still, the A’s lead was 3-2, if he could just keep the game there.
He couldn’t. Straily sandwiched two singles around yet another walk, before missing with a pitch to Brian Roberts. The No. 9 hitter delivered his first grand slam since 2009.
“I have to throw the ball better than that,’’ Straily said. “It’s frustrating to have a 3-0 lead like that and then give it all back and more.’’
Straily wound up walking four, two of which scored. It’s part of an ongoing saga for the A’s, who have allowed seven batters who have walked in the last three games to score.
That kind of gift-giving should be saved for Christmas, not the pennant race.
–Coco Crisp singled three times and homered for his 12th career four-hit game. If the A’s had won, it would have meant more to him than it did.
When the game was over, Crisp didn’t say anything for a long time. When he did, he talked about the future, not the past.
“All we can do is come back tomorrow,’’ the center fielder said. “All year we’ve been good about not hanging our heads. We do a good job with that.’’
Crisp took that moment to look at the immediate schedule, which calls for consecutive series against four potential playoff opponents – Baltimore, Detroit, Tampa Bay and Texas.
“Everybody here’s going to play hard,’’ he said. “We always do. The results are the results. But if we don’t (make the playoffs), we’re going to know we gave it our best shot.’’