Oakland A’s left fielder Seth Brown (15) sets up in the batters’ box against San Francisco Giants catcher Joey Bart (21) at the Oakland Coliseum in pre season action on Sun Mar 26, 2023 (@Athletics photo)
San Francisco. 0 3 0 2 2 0 1 1 0. – 9. 8 2
Oakland 0 3 0 00 0 0 0 2 – 5 7 1
Oakland March 26
By Lewis Rubman
OAKLAND–It hasn’t been a pleasant spring training for the Athletics this year. Returning to the bay area, their win and loss record of 10-16, with three ties, was the worst in the Cactus League and third worst among all major leagues teams for the spring. Of course, these figures aren’t of overwhelming significance.
It’s often said that escaping major injuries is the most important task a team can accomplish in the Cactus or Grapefruit League. Oakland–if that still is the proper adjective to modify “Athletics”–didn’t fare particularly well in that endeavour either.
A torn fingernail has kept Paul Blackburn from throwing a pitch in anger since March 10. He’s expected to return to action some time in April, but the right handed starter already has missed over two weeks of full preparation.
Tightness in his left hamstring has kept Drew Rucinsk, another righty expected to figure in the A’s starting rotation, out of action since the 14th. Like Blackburn, he’s expected to be available next month, but he’ll be on the on the injured list until then.
Manny Piña underwent surgery on his left wrist last May, and the wrist has been inflamed for the last two weeks. No one knows when or what to expect from the back up catcher. He’s likely to be on the opening day IL.
Number nine prospect Freddy Tarnok hasn’t pitched since March 8 and is undergoing diagnostic testing to see what’s been causing the tingling sensation in the thumb of his right, pitching, hand. The date of his return, and where he’ll be assigned are unknown.
Southpaw hurler Kirby Snead has been shut down until further notice. He won’t start throwing again until he’s free from the discomfort caused by the shoulder strain he suffered a month ago.
It wasn’t a festive Sunday afternoon for the A’s and their fans when they fell, 9-5 to the enigmatic Giants, who had come to play with a Cactus League record of 13-14 in the first of a two game, home and home exhibition series just before the season starts on Thursday, the 30th. Our two local teams had split the games they played earlier this month in Arizona.
Portsider Ken Waldichuk stood at 0-3, 9.58 (!) for the spring when he toed the rubber for the home team. Fellow lefty Alex Wood was 1-1, 3.72 when he went to the mound for the visitors in the bottom of the first. The Athletics’ started lasted 3-1/3 innings, in which he surrendered five runs, all earned, on four hits, an equal number of free passes, and a wild pitch. He threw 80 pitches,, 42 of which were considered strikes. Wood’s outing was more successful and more complicated.
The Giants got to Waldichuk early. He walked two men in the first and allowed a single and a walk and unleashed his wild pitch in the second before David Villar, in his second at bat, jumped on a 91 mph four seamer and sent it flying 403’ onto the stairs separating the main grandstand from structure housing Mt. Davis, putting the visitors up, 3-0.
Oakland came roaring back in their half of the frame thanks to some sloppy San Francisco fielding and some speedy base running by Seth Brown and Nick Allen, and Estreury Ruîz and some opportune hitting by Tony Kemp. With one down, Brown drew a full count walk. Allen hit a grounder to the mound that Wood threw into center field, putting runners on the corners.
Kemp followed with a fly to deep center that eluded Brett Wisely’s outstretched glove on the warning track as the runners raced home to erase the Giants’ advantage Esteury Ruíz walked, and Kemp doubled to the center field warning track, advancing and to third when short stop Casey Schmidt mishandled the relay. Manager Gabe Kapler pulled Wood in favor of Ryan Walker, who got Ramón Laureano to ground out, ending the inning.
This being spring training, Wood returned to pitch the bottom of the third and strike out the side. When he finally exited for good, his line stood at 5-1/3 innings pitched; three runs, two earned; three hits and three walks; ten strike outs
The tie was short lived, as Bryce Johnson led off the top of the fourth with a walk and went to third on Brett Auberbach’s one out two bagger to left. Both scored on Wisely’s single tonight center. That’s when Chad Smith relieved Waldichuk. Smith stifled the Giants for the rest of the inning, giving way to Adam Oller at the start of the fifth
The Giants picked cup two more tallies in the fifth, thanks to Brett Auberbach’s two out single and the three walks Oller allowed in the frame.
Sam Moll joined the party with one out and no one on in the sixth, to hold the score at 7-3, Giants, before turning pitching duties over to Juerys Familia in the top of the seventh, when the spring training avalanche of late inning substitutes played havoc with my score sheet. He allowed an unearned run, courtesy of a lead off throwing error by Jace Peterson, who had just entered the game at third, that was driven in by Brett Auberbach’s single.
Although by the top of the eighth, the game had lost interest for anyone who didn’t enjoy farce, it’s worth noting that Joc Peterson, who’d taken over at first base in the fifth frame, slamed a humongous solo home run, 414 feet deep into the center field seats. It came off Dany Jiménez.
At long last, with two out in the bottom of the ninth, Pablo Reyes took John Brebbia 390 feet deep to left center, and Carlos Perez followed a 374 foot blast to left, and the score was 9-5. When Ryan Nona singled to right, it almost seemed as if the A’s had a chance. They didn’t; Kyle McCann took a third strike, and that was that.
Wood got the win; Waldiichuk, the loss.
Monday’s encounter will take place across the bridge in Oracle Park. The Giants will be honoring Sergio Romo, who pitched for both of the teams in his 15 year big league career and will retire after the afternoon’s tribute to him. His one day contract grants him membership in an exclusive club whose members range from the sublime Satchel Paige to the trivial Eddie Gaedel, whose lifetime on base percentage never will be surpassed.