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Toronto Series – Game 1 Recap/Game 2 Preview

July 25, 2012

Quick Hit:

Brett Cecil did his best Brett Cycil (see what  I did there) impression as he carved up the A’s batter for the better part of six innings. His one mistake came against Derek Norris in the second inning on this pitch:

Hard to not get hurt on a pitch like that. Otherwise he was effective in getting whiffs on his off speed pitches; change (9), slider (5), curve (5). As is typical with the A’s, they kept the game close until late when they finally pulled away with a five-run seventh.

Travis Blackley did Cecil one better, going seven innings and striking out eight and allowing only one run. His only mistake was a home run to Travis Snider.

Offensively Norris and Weeks contributed the most, by WPA, with a .142 and .140 respectively. Norris, obviously, helped with the home run and Weeks with his RBI triple as one of his two hits. Interestingly, even with three strikeouts Cespedes still contributed with a positive WPA, .oo4. A three-run single will do that. Also, why wasn’t he on second?

The Competition: 

The Rays beat the Orioles (BEAT EACH OTHER UP)
Teh slengA lost.

Game 2 Preview

This is where is starts to get hairy for the Athletics on this road trip. As good as AJ Griffin has been in his six previous starts for Oakland, he’s been a bit of smoke and mirrors. Currently his 39.1% groundball rate is not going to fly (I’m so funny) against a team like the Blue Jays and in a stadium that is conducive for righties to tee off. His ERA – FIP gap also shows that he has been over performing. His ERA/FIP/xFIP is now 2.70/4.06/4.24. And yes, I am wholly aware of the SSS, but this is a place and team that will show your flaws quickly.

Ricky Romero climbs the mound for Toronto tonight (where have all the righties gone?!). Although he has struggled of late, losing his last five decisions, he does posses the stuff to shut down a lineup. After putting up three decent season with Toronto, the rug has certainly been pulled out from under Romero. After posting a 2.92/4.20/3.80 ERA/FIP/xFIP he is  now at 5.22/5.19/4.54. Strikeouts per nine are down and walks per nine are up, even though they were never that great to being with, it is troublesome to see that after locking up a pitcher long-term like the Blue Jays did with Romero. Both his Four-seam fastball and his sinker (or Two-seam, depending on what you call it) have lost a tick in speed and flattened out. He relies on his fastball more this year than he did last year, 53% versus 48%. He has tinkered with a cutter, but it is more of a “show me” pitch. His ball-in-play percentage has exploded on all of his pitches this year and his whiff percentage has plummeted.

If you prescribe to pitchers “owning” teams (personally I don’t) then his 4-0 record with a sparkling 1.70 ERA against the A’s gives you cause for concern. But this is not the same pitcher the A’s have seen before. As long as the A’s are not over-aggressive, they will get something to hit. So far, against lefty starters the Athletics are as follows;

Split G GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS GDP
vs LH Starter 334 32 1218 1099 129 252 43 4 38 122 17 8 98 291 .229 .297 .379 .677 22
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/25/2012.

The A’s could win this game and put more distance between themselves and the Blue Jays, but that depends on how well Griffin can keep the Blue Jays batters at bay. That will be the biggest key to the game, keeping the Blue Jays in the yard.

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