Behind Daniel Gossett and an efficient offense, the A’s beat the Giants by a score of 6-1.
A’s open up the scoring
The A’s got on the board in the second inning thanks to some bad defense and passable offense.
Ryon Healy, lover of playing the field, singled to left to open the frame. He’d move to second on a Chad Pinder walk. Next up was Matt Chapman, whose “double” to center plated Healy and moved Pinder to third. 1-0 A’s.
Double is in quotation marks not because it wasn’t well struck. It was, possibly a dinger in a more hitter friendly ballpark with more distance from the thick ocean air. Rather, it’s in quotation marks because a good centerfielder makes that play pretty easily.
In truth, it wasn’t a horrendous play, but it’s the Giants so we’re going to make fun.
Matt Joyce would follow with a walk, loading the bases for temporary catcher Ryan Lavarnway. He’d hit an easy groundball to third, turned two outs by way of a 5-4-3 double play, and scoring Pinder on the play. 2-0 A’s.
It’s hard to assign too much blame to Giants’ third baseman Connor Gillaspie for not going home on the play, but there’s little doubt that had he have chosen that route, the Giants would still have turned a double play without allowing the run. It wouldn’t have been as easy as the 5-4-3 route they took, but Ryan Lavarnway is a 29 year old catcher: he’s not fleet of foot. Going home was the right play.
I bring up this single anecdote to make a grander point, one that’s probably a stretch but one that I’ll make nonetheless.
The A’s coaching has been concerning to some fans, not because the A’s are terrible, but because of how the A’s are terrible. They seem to always make the wrong play, they can’t stop making errors and taking terrible routes, and things that seem fixable have gone unfixed.
On the other side of the bay, there’s little doubt that the coaching staff is top notch. Their success is unparalleled, and the team has always been fundamentally sound. Until now, a year in which the trash Giants have had a trash defense and trash fundamentals, the Giants have been universally heralded as well coached.
My point? Good coaching can produce mixed results depending on the team, and the bad defenses of the past two years doesn’t mean that Bob Melvin isn’t a good manager.
Ryon Healy smash
The third inning got off to an innocuous start, with Matt Moore retiring the first two batters of the inning. Jed Lowrie then walked, followed by Ryon Healy who took the batting practice-est of fastballs deep into the left field bleachers for a two run bomb.
When Ryon Healy is off, which he has been for a good part of this year, it’s easy to forget he can put a ball in the seats with ease. Stay with us, good Healy.
Giants get to Gossett, finally
For the first four innings, Daniel Gossett was masterful. He didn’t allow a hit, conceding just a walk with heaps of weak contact mixed in. He did benefit from pitching in a pitcher’s yard, but it was a good start regardless of that and the fact he faced an absolutely miserable lineup.
In the fifth, he walked Brandon Crawford to lead off and gave up hard double to Hunter Pence to follow. A sacrifice fly later in the frame would score the Giants first run, a reasonable outcome considering the inning’s start. 4-1 A’s after five.
Insurance in the seventh
Marcus Semien led off the seventh with the dinkiest little hit up the middle. I mean you should have seen this thing, it was the kind of hit that would make you storm out of the room if Jonny Giovatella or some little opposing scrub did it, but it was our guy Marcus so it’s totally cool.
He’d score one play later on a Jed Lowrie double, an absolute smash to left-center field. It’s delightful having athletes like Semien, a speedster who scored easily on a play that could have been close with a lesser runner. With athletes like Semien, Chapman, Pinder, Barreto, and many more, the A’s should have an added layer of excitement for the foreseeable future. 5-1, A’s.
Lowrie would soon move to third on a groundball by Healy and score on a single by Chad Pinder to put the good guys up 6-1 against the not good guys.
Gossett ended the night with seven fine innings pitched, allowing just the one run on three hits with five strikeouts. There were a few balls that would have been a touch dicey in other yards, but otherwise it was a thorough dismantling of a very bad offense.
The biggest piece for Gossett tonight? He put himself in counts to use the curveball, and kept it down in the zone when he had the chance. That pitch has legit potential to induce swings and misses, and when it’s on a he’s a completely different pitcher than when it’s off. His ability to succeed will come down to his ability to stay consistent on getting into pitcher’s counts and putting the curve where hitters can’t do damage.
Some other notes
-Lavarnway is probably nothing more than the occasional fill-in catcher, and his bat is likely well below average. His defense though? Pretty enjoyable watching him turn balls into strikes via stellar framing, and he seems to just do a great job on the defensive side of the ball.
-Bunts are dumb, but the A’s need to work on their dumb bunts.
-The DH rules and National League fans are suffering from a baseball version of Stockholm Syndrome. Pitchers hitting is legitimately terrible.
-Matt Chapman has a .768 OPS since he’s returned from the DL. If he put that up over the course of the year, he’d easily clear the bar for being an above average all around player. And he’s not close to being fully acclimated at the plate. Love Matt Chapman.
Series finale tomorrow
The A’s will try and win the Bay Bridge series tomorrow night at AT&T Park as Kendall Graveman will make his triumphant return from the DL. See you right here!