The last three nights in Oakland have been nothing short of a nightmare and nothing was worse than last night. In fact, I think it was the worst loss of the year as the A’s stormed out to a quick 13-0 lead. How could that happen with James Shields on the mound? Quite simply, it was easily his worst start of the year.
It wasn’t all bad though. On Shields’ first pitch of the night to Jemile Weeks, it marked the 704th consecutive time that the Rays have sent out a starter under the age of 30. He then proceeded to have a decent beginning, allowing only a run through three innings. He was helped out in the second when Sam Fuld threw out a runner at the plate with a perfect throw. The wheels of the Rays car came completely off in the fourth as the A’s scored 10 runs. Shields got two fairly quick outs, but then couldn’t put the A’s away. Hideki Matsui and Ryan Sweeney both homered in the inning. It got so bad that even Matt Joyce botched an easy play for an error. All of the runs came off of Shields as the A’s hit for the cycle in the inning. Perhaps only him and David Price would be allowed to stay out there for that long, but Joe Maddon should have thought about removing his ace sooner. It certainly did nothing to enhance his trade value.
When you’re down 13-0 heading into the ninth inning it would be very easy to give up at bats just to make sure the game ended as quickly as possible. However, the Rays plugged away, scoring four runs in the ninth. Joyce hit a long homer to right center to pull the Rays within 13-2. Fuld later battled Fautino De Los Santos for an 11 pitch at bat before grounding out. The Rays then scratched out two more runs. Obviously, it was way too little.
Maddon has a tough job ahead. It must be hard to be heard with trade rumors swirling around the heads of some of his best players. It’s obvious to me that the distractions are hurting the team. This is the worst they have played all year, even including their horrible start. Maddon needs a meeting behind closed doors. A long one.
Players of the Game: Ryan Sweeney and Hideki Matsui were both a triple away from the cycle.