At the outset of the 2011 season, the Oakland Athletics were a trendy pick to return to prominence and contend for a playoff spot in the American League West. The lineup was supposed to pack more punch, and the young pitching staff was expected to be reminiscent of the great A’s rotations of the early 2000s.
Well, there’s still all the time in the world for Oakland to live up to expectations, but through the first five games of the season, the A’s don’t exactly look like a legitimate contender.
On Wednesday evening in Toronto, Oakland dropped its second straight to the Blue Jays to fall to 1-4 on the year. Toronto took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when Yunel Escobar scored from first on a double by Adam Lind. The A’s then took the lead in the top of the fourth half when Hideki Matsui plated Daric Barton and David DeJesus with a two-run double to right. Oakland starter Dallas Braden surrendered the lead in the bottom half of the fourth though when Travis Snider smacked a three-run dinger that gave the Blue Jays a 4-3 lead. Toronto would add an insurance run in the eighth that proved insignificant as Oakland’s bats failed to muster much against Jays starter Jesse Litsch, or Marc Rzepczynski and Jon Rausch who combined to throw two and two-thirds innings of hitless relief. It was Rausch’s first save of the year for Toronto.
Braden’s line wound up being somewhat interesting. He allowed 10 hits and five earned runs over seven innings, striking out three and walking one. What’s so interesting about that you ask? Well, he threw only 89 pitches, a surprisingly low number for pitching so deep into the game.
The two teams will conclude their three-game set tomorrow afternoon in Toronto. Oakland will send second year right-hander Trevor Cahill to the mound as the A’s look to avoid being swept.