Ben Sheets allowed the most runs he's given up since 2005 and the A's dropped the first game of a two-game set to the Rays 8-6.
Sheets gave up eight runs on nine hits in only four innings, but strong effort from relievers Craig Breslow, Jerry Blevins, Brad Ziegler, and Chad Gaudin kept the Rays from tacking on any more runs. Even though Sheets turned in an absolutely horrid start, there were numerous positives from the game.
- Offense: The offense picked up the slack from the pitching. Even though the A's ended up on the wrong side of the score, the offense showed it could score in bunches against a quality team. We have already seen a couple outbursts of runs this year, but they were against the Indians and the Orioles. The Rays are one of the best teams in baseball this year, so it was somewhat satisfying to see the offense keep the game close. Stars of the game for the A's were Adam Rosales and Cliff Pennington, hitting out of the ninth and leadoff spots, respectively. They each had four hits and at least one run and RBI. Pennington turned in perhaps his most impressive game of his young career; he homered, doubled twice, and drove in four runs. Pennington would have hit for the cycle and recorded five RBIs if it wasn't for a long hop on a well hit ball down the right field line that hit the foul pole before bouncing back onto the field. Pennington cruised into third, but was brought back to second on a call of a ground-rule double.
- Relievers: As mentioned above, four relievers combined for four innings of shutout ball. It's nice to see the bullpen step up in a tough environment to give the team a chance to get back into the ball control. Some good damage control.
Injuries: Prior to the first pitch, Brett Anderson was put on the 15-day DL. Pennington hobbled for awhile after he slid into third on what was later called a ground-rule double. Pennington stayed in the game and appeared fine, but the loss of Anderson brings back memories of injury plagued seasons the last few years.
I don't advocate losing. But, if there was any good loss, this would be the one. The team showed a side that I didn't think I would ever see again. They fought back using offense and solid relievers.