Brad Mills didn’t exactly place the ball on a tee for the A’s to whack away at Thursday afternoon, but pretty close.
In what can only be described as an inning from hell — at least from Mills’ and the Jays’ perspective — the third inning became a nightmare after what can only be described as a promising first couple of innings for the young left-hander.
Mills faced four batters in the first, walking the second batter. The next inning he allowed a ringing double to right but struck out three of the four batters he faced.
All in all, it was a pretty solid way to start.
But then came the third and before the final out was registered, nine batters came to the plate with six of them coming around to score.
It was a 44-pitch inning for Mills, one where he allowed four hits, walked one, hit one and didn’t receive much in the way of support from left fielder Eric Thames who misplayed two of the balls hit his way.
Mills didn’t come out for the fourth and the Jays didn’t mount a cavalry charge comeback as they fell meekly to the A’s by a 10-3 margin.
Mills said it was just one of those days, nothing more, nothing less.
“It was just one of those days where it wasn’t clicking,” he said. “On days where you have it you don’t have to think too much and it just kind of happens. Today was one of those days where it just wasn’t there and I really had to try to focus as hard as I could to do it and wasn’t able to.”
Defence wasn’t the forte of the Jays this day either as in the sixth, a throwing error by third baseman Brett Lawrie allowed leadoff hitter Scott Sizemore to reach and a bad decision by shortstop Yunel Escobar to try to cut down Sizemore at the plate after taking the relay from Jose Bautista with Hideki Matsui hung out to dry between first and second, helped fuel Oakland’s four-run inning.
Reliever Luis Perez, who would issue three walks in the ratty inning, also threw the ball behind the runner and up the right-field line after fielding a nubber, allowing two additional runs to score.
Only one of the four runs scored was earned.
All in all it was pretty close to the worst game the Jays have played this season.
“It was a tough day today, not too much positive going for us either on the mound or at the plate and even in the one inning defensively,” manager John Farrell said. “The best thing we can say is close the book on this and we’ll move on to tomorrow.”
As poor as Mills performance was, the overall defence was worse.
Which aspect was the more disappointing?
“The defensive plays, particularly in the one inning,” Farrell said. “Bunched together a ground ball to third (then Lawrie’s throwing error), then we get the throw in from right field to cut down a runner at second base and the decision made to throw home to try and cut down a runner (by Escobar), Not only did it lead to a run, it gave an extra base.
“It wasn’t a sharp day in any phase of the game.”
Pretty much all of the pre-game chatter centred on Brett Lawrie’s big game from the night before — he went 2-for-4 with a double and a grand slam — and the energy he brings to the ballpark.
“He’s an energetic guy, that goes without saying,” Farrell said about the Golden Brett. “It’s good for him to be himself and to show the energy and to play with the enthusiasm that he does.”
In the eighth inning of Wednesday’s game, Escobar was also hit by a pitch thrown by Jordan Norberto. It was the first pitch following an RBI single by Rajai Davis, a hit that drove Lawrie home from second. As he crossed the plate Lawrie, who celebrated his slam in the sixth like a madman in the Jays dugout, did a first pump, the score being 8-3 in the Jays favour.
So, Farrell was asked if Lawrie’s go-go celebratory nature may have been the prelude to Escobar getting plunked.
“That may be a question best for Noberto,” Farrell said. “Whether or not they felt that was a way to retaliate (for the slam), I don’t know.”
Lawrie has received a ton of hype and cheers in his opening six games and instead of being overwhelmed by it all, he seems to welcome it and feed off it.
“They thrive on the moment,” Farrell said of that type of player. “Hopefully that’s the case (with Lawrie) for a long period of time. Again, I know he’s had a very good five games but we kind of take it more day to day and know we’ve got a very young, talented, aggressive player whose got a very bright future and let’s not put any limits on him by a comparison or what we think he should be.”
There was little for Lawrie fans to cheer this game as he was 0-for-3 at the plate and made a throwing error in the sixth.