SAN FRANCISCO–Oakland A’s rookie Daniel Gossett pitched a gem. Because of course he did.
In the midst of a 2017 season in which the San Francisco Giants have helped pitchers you wouldn’t sign to your fantasy team look like All-Star-caliber arms, Gossett was the latest to turn the trick on the orange and black.
Though Gossett entered Wednesday evening’s ballgame with a 2-6 record and a 5.74 earned run average over the first nine starts of his career, he looked every bit the part of a future star in seven one-run innings in Oakland’s 6-1 win.
Over the past month, the Giants’ lineup has been handcuffed by a slew of middling big league arms like Hyun-Jin Ryu, Trevor Cahill and Anibal Sanchez, and Wednesday’s loss was yet another missed opportunity. Unlike the three veterans highlighted above, though, Gossett has minimal experience navigating through a lineup multiple times. It ultimately didn’t matter as he kept the Giants hitless through his first four frames and gave up just three hits altogether.
“I guess he was commanding the ball well, he moves around, uses his secondary pitches well,” Bochy said. “We were off tonight. I don’t know what it was, we had such a good game last night that I thought we’d come out swinging the bats tonight but he went in and out and we didn’t hit very many balls hard there off of him.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy announced his plans for the upcoming month, and essentially for the remainder of the season. Bochy said that even though San Francisco began the day 34.5 games behind the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers, in lieu of turning the season over to prospects, the Giants will continue to play to win.
“We’ve talked about this,” Bochy said. “We want to keep trying to win ballgames. We feel obligated to do that. We’re going to continue to do it.”
So when Bochy crafted his lineup for the team’s third game in a row against the last place A’s, he trotted out the same crew of regular players who have formed the starting nine over the last several weeks. The result, much like the lineup, was familiar.
Even though San Francisco exploded for 10 runs –including three home runs– on Tuesday evening in Oakland, the Giants failed to exploit a rookie pitcher who had lost four of his last five decisions.
“I’m a little disappointed we didn’t swing the bats a little better, though, the way we came out swinging last night,” Bochy said.
For much of Wednesday’s contest, the A’s exposed the fatal flaws that have heavily factored into the Giants’ stunning demise this season.
In the top of the second inning, a leadoff single and a walk issued by Giants’ left Matt Moore set the table for A’s rookie Matt Chapman, who smashed a towering flyball deep to center field. Though Chapman’s blast hit the upper half of the green outfield wall on the fly, it was a ball that Giants’ center fielder Denard Span should have corralled anyway. The Giants’ outfield defense, though, has hardly aided a pitching staff that needs all the help it can get, and the double helped Oakland shoot out to a 1-0 lead.
“I didn’t think it was going that far,” Bochy said of the flyball. “The wind I think up high was just blowing toward center field and just carried more than any of us including Denard thought there.”
In the next frame, Moore sat down the first two A’s hitters he faced before surrendering a two-out walk to Oakland shortstop Jed Lowrie. The very next hitter, Ryon Healy, made Moore pay with a 405-foot shot that plopped down in the middle of the left field bleachers. The two-run homer gave Oakland a 4-0 lead, and though it was Healy’s 20th round-tripper of the season, it was his first since the end of June.
Healy’s home run was also the 89th home run of at least 400 feet the A’s have hit this season. In comparison, the Giants have hit 85 home runs of any distance. That’s dead last in the Major Leagues, and unless San Francisco miraculously acquires Aaron Judge or Cody Bellinger, the Giants won’t be passing any teams over the next two months.
The lone opportunity that materialized for the Giants against Gossett came in the bottom of the fifth, when Brandon Crawford led off with a walk and Hunter Pence followed with a loud double that registered an exit velocity of 114 miles per hour off the bat.
After a Gorkys Hernandez sacrifice fly cut Oakland’s lead to 4-1, Bochy pinch hit Miguel Gomez for Moore, and Gomez delivered an impressive swing of the bat. His high, tailing flyball forced Oakland left fielder Chad Pinder into gap in left center, before Pinder raced under the ball to make a highlight-reel, run-saving grab. It was the type of play Span couldn’t make in the first inning, and the type of play that has evaded San Francisco all season.