It looked like it was going to be 11 in a row for the A’s, but in new manager Bob Melvin’s second game at the helm, the team’s newest acquisition came up big.
Scott Sizemore hit a three-run double in the top of the ninth to give the A’s a 7-5 lead and halt the team’s long losing streak Friday with a victory over the White Sox.
Sergio Santos blew his second save in 13 attempts for the White Sox. The converted shortstop just couldn’t find his slider tonight. He got two outs to begin the ninth in a 5-3 game, but he then walked Josh Willingham, who took second on fielder’s indifference. Hideki Matsui singled him in and then Santos walked Daric Barton and hit Kurt Suzuki with a breaking ball to load the bases.
Left with nothing but his straight fastball, Santos proved hittable. Sizemore drilled one to the gap in left-center, clearing the bases with ease. Sizemore finished the game — his third since replacing Kevin Kouzmanoff as the team’s third baseman — 3-for-4 with a walk. The former Tiger is 5-for-9 since his callup.
And now the A’s are on the board again, even though Graham Godfrey struggled in his major league debut, giving up five runs in 4 1/3 innings. Edwin Jackson pitched six innings of two-run ball for the White Sox, only to have the bullpen let him down. Santos has suddenly given up seven runs in his last two appearances, taking his ERA from 1.24 to 3.23. It’s not going to cost him the closer’s role, but the White Sox are surely concerned. For all of his velocity, he doesn’t have the fastball movement to succeed when his slider isn’t working.
On Sunday, we heard from former Ray and current Giants third baseman Evan Longoria. The Rays recently traded pitcher Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for a prospect and designated All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense outside of a cost-cutting perspective. Longoria said, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”
Today, we’re hearing from a current Ray: center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who is set to enter his fifth full season with the club. Via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Kiermaier said, “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the bush. It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why. And then you see the team’s explanation and still it’s just like, okay, well, so be it.”
Longoria — formerly the face of the franchise — was traded to the Giants in December and the Rays continued to subtract with their recent moves involving Odorizzi and Dickerson. Odorizzi has a career 3.83 ERA in what has been a solid, if unspectacular, career. Dickerson put up an All-Star season, posting an .815 OPS with 27 home runs in 150 games. Moving either player was not done to fix a positional log jam. In fact, with Odorizzi out of the picture, the Rays are planning to use a four-man starting rotation for the first six-plus weeks of the season, Topkin reported on Sunday. Dickerson’s ouster simply opens the door for Mallex Smith, who posted a .684 OPS last year, to start every day in the outfield.
The Rays got markedly worse after going 80-82 last season. They saved a few million bucks jettisoning Odorizzi and Dickerson. And Rays ownership still wants the public to foot most of the bill for their new stadium.
When it was just one small market team pinching pennies, it was fine. But now that more than half of the league has adopted penny-pinching principles popularized by Moneyball and Sabermetrics (with the Rays among the chief offenders), the game of baseball has become markedly less fan- and player-friendly. This offseason has been less about players signing contracts and changing teams in trades — which helps build excitement and intrigue for the coming year — and more about front offices doing math problems concerning the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold and other self-imposed monetary restraints. Fun. Kiermaier is right to be upset and he’s very likely not alone in feeling that way.