The Chicago White Sox Eloy Jimenez slides in for a run as Oakland A’s catcher Yan Gomes puts the tag on too late in the top of the fifth inning at the Oakland Coliseum on Tue Sep 7, 2021 (AP News photo)
Chicago 6 – 15 – 2
Oakland 3 – 6 – 0
By Lewis Rubman
Tuesday September 7, 2021
OAKLAND–The September ’21 Oakland Athletics returned to the Coliseum this evening, singing the words of a W.S. Gilbert song, “A wandering minstrel I / A thing of shreds and patches,” not to mention a non-functioning bullpen and a penchant for leaving runners on base.
Of course, this wasn’t their public position. As Steve Berman reported in Monday’s The Athletic, the team is singing “The Best is Yet to Come.” To which I reply, again appropriating Gilbert’s lyrics from The Mikado,
But as one month you have to live as fellow citizen, This toast with three times three we’ll give: “Long life, Long life to you — Long life to you — Long life to you — till then!”
To put this song book in numerical terms, the A’s awoke this morning with fifteen games left in the regular season. If they were to tie Houston for the division title, they’d need to overcome the Astros’ six game lead. The two teams have exactly six games left on their schedules against each other, three in Oakland, the 24th-26th, and another three in Houston, set for the last three days of the season.
The ‘stros have been slumping recently, but not as badly as the A’s, so there is hope on that front, although Seattle has a slightly better shot than Oakland at the western division gonfalon; they trail Houston by five and a half games with fourteen to go.
The other way the Athletics could make it to post season action would be by qualifying for the wild card crap shoot. They went into today three and a half games behind the Red Sox for the second wild card position and would have to pass both Toronto and Seattle, to attain even that minimal opportunity to reach the division series.
Tonight’s game with the White Sox, who, arriving in Oakland with a record 79-58, have the Central Divisional race all but locked up, further lessened the green and gold’s chances for life after October 3. With their definitive 6-3 loss to Chicago,, Oakland was left singing the blues
James Kaprielian (7-4, 3.87 at game time), who has seen his monthly ERA cllimb steadily from 2.95 in May to 5.06 in August, opened the game in horrendous fashion, surrendering a single to lead off hitter Luis Robert and a double to Yoán Moncada before loading the bases with nobody out by hitting José Abreu on the knee.
He nonetheless managed to escape an early disaster and limited the Chisox to a single tally by striking out Eloy Jiménez and Gavin Sheets. The run came on a walk to Yasmani Grandal, and the last out was the result of Leury Garcíá’s hard line drive that Matt Chapman snared at third.
The A’s recovered quickly in their half of the first and tied it up against Chicago’s Jimmy Lambert (0-1, 9.00), who spent most of last season on the injured list. They did it on a lead off double down the left field line by Josh Harrington, who moved on to third on Starling Marte’s fly to deep center and scored on Matt Olson’s sacrifice fly to right.
Kaprielian was was in and out of trouble during his four inning stint on the mound, gamely preventing any more Chicago scoring , but his 30 pitch first inning did him in. He ended up throwing 92 pitches, 63 for strikes, and allowing just that one run in the first. He also allowed five hits and two walks and hit two opposition batters. He brought his ERA down to 3.81 and left with a no decision.
AJ Puk replaced him on the mound for the top of the fifth, and eight pitches later the A’s were down, 2-1 on singles by Jiménez, Grandal, and Sheets. Leury García’s safety loaded the bases, and still none were out. Puk struck out Andrew Vaughn to put one away.
But César Hernández took Puk´s 3-2 offering to right for a two run single that sent García to third, Puk to the showers, and Daulton Jefferies to the mound. It took Puk all of 23 pitches and a third of an inning to surrender three earned runs.
Jefferies retired the side with the help of a pitcher´s best friend on three pitches. He ended up throwing 54 pitches over 3-2/3 innings before tiring and giving up a double to Moncada after a nine pitch at bat and following that with a walk to Abreu with two out in the eighth.
Jake Diekman wild pitched the runners up a base, and both scored on Brian Goodwin’s broken bat Texas League single to right. The runs were charged to Jeffries. Diekman then struck out Grandal to end the inning, the A’s trailing 6-1.
Garrett Crochet took over for Lambert after Chicago’s starter had gone five frames, throwing 47 strikes out of 70 pitches and holding the A’s to one run on three hits. He was credited with his first major league win, bringing his record for the season to 1-1, 6.23. Crochet set Oakland down in order before giving way to Ryan Tepera, who put the A’s down with a walk, a strike out, and a nifty Abreu, unassisted, to García 3-6 twin killing.
Chicago’s next pitcher was Ryan Burr, who gave up an infield single to Gomes, who scored when centerfielder Luis Robert misplayed Andrus’s single. Andrus advanced to second on the error. After retiring Chad Pinder, who pinch hit for Harrison, Burr was replaced by Craig Kimbrel.
Marte greeted him with a run producing single to center and followed that up with a steal of second that landed him on third when Grandal’s throw wound up in center field. But Khris Davis, who had replaced Lowrie as DH in the sixth, struck out swinging, and we entered the ninth with Chicago leading 6-3 and Deolis Guerra on the mound for Oakland.
It wasn’t pretty, involving two singles (one of the infield variety) and. stolen bases, but Guerra brought the Athletics to the bottom of the ninth, still trailing Chicago by only three runs.
In their last chance frame, Oakland had to contend with their ace closer of 2020, Liam Hendricks. He got his 33rd save by setting the A’s down 1-2-3.
The two teams will face each other Wedneday evening at 6:40, with Frankie Montás (11-9, 3.68) going against Dallas Keuchel (8-8, 5,22).