Win Probability table courtesy of Fan Graphs.
Oakland-Some days you win, some days you lose, and some days, you lose big. The third one of those scenarios would apply to the tale of the tape of Saturday afternoon's game against the Oakland Athletics, in which Casey Fossum allowed eight Oakland runs to cross the plate in the first two innings en route to a blowout 12-5 loss.
The Athletics, who had Major League Baseball's lowest team batting average and lowest team slugging percentage coming into the game, got several weeks of dead hitting out of their system off of Fossum early. Shannon Stewart led off the bottom of the first with a single, and he later stole second base. After a Mike Piazza walk, A's SS Bobby Crosby singled home the first run of the game with an RBI single. An errant throw from Rays LF Carl Crawford made for no play at home, and allowed both runners to move up a base for 1B Dan Johnson, who promptly singled in two runs to make it a 3-0 ballgame. 2B Mark Ellis would single to put two men on for A's RF Travis Buck. Buck, who had one major league career home run heading into the AB, took the first pitch he saw from Fossum high and deep into the left field stands for a three run shot that put the A's up 6-0. Fossum would retire C Jason Kendall to end the first, but the A's would come back to score two more in the second inning on another chain of hitting mixed in with some sloppy fielding.
Rays 2B B.J. Upton plated the first run of the ballgame for Tampa Bay when he blasted a solo home run over the high left-center field fence to cut the lead to 6-1. It was the Rays' only home run of the ballgame, and it tied Upton for the team lead in home runs at four with three other players. Upton would later double to lead off the top of the fifth inning for the Rays, and was later singled home by Elijah Dukes for Tampa Bay's second run of the ballgame. Upton finished 3 for 4 and scored all three times he reached base, accounting for three of Tampa Bay's five runs on the day.
Fossum, meanwhile, would postpone his inability to be an effective pitcher through the third and fourth innings, and made it through the fifth before being removed. He obviously took the loss in giving up nine runs on nine hits over five innings, walking three and allowing two home runs, the second of which by Mark Ellis, a solo shot in his final inning of work. Ruddy Lugo relieved Fossum, but Oakland would score their final three runs in the seventh off of him when walks by Shannon Stewart and Danny Putnam put two on for 3B Eric Chavez, who then homered over the right field wall to give Oakland a 12-2 lead. Lugo gave up those three runs on two hits and three walks in two innings of work.
The Rays would plate some garbage time runs to make the score look more respectable towards the end of the game, as Jonny Gomes doubled home Dukes, who had reached base on an Oakland error, in the top of the eighth to cut the lead to 12-3. The two teams made a combined four errors on the day, two each, while each also racked up 11 hits. Juan Salas would pitch a scoreless eighth for the Rays, and was the only pitcher not to give up a run for the Rays on the day. Jorge Cantu pinch hit for Carlos Peña in the ninth and singled. B.J. Upton did the same, and Cantu was brought home from third on a Ben Zobrist Sac Fly. Elijah Dukes would then single for his third hit of the ballgame, and Upton was brought home when Gomes, the next batter, singled him in to cap the scoring. Carl Crawford was called out on strikes to end the ballgame with runners at second and third. Ultimately Crawford was the most productive member of the Rays' middle of the order, as he was the only one of the foursome that included Ty Wigginton, Delmon Young, and Carlos Peña to get a hit. The four went a combined 1 for 16 on the day. Jonny Gomes, meanwhile, had his first multi-hit game of the year in going 2 for 5, while Elijah Dukes had three hits for the Rays from the top of the order.
4:05; NO TV
RAYS RADIO/WHNZ 1250 AM
|LH Casey Fossum
|RH Dan Haren
RH Casey Fossum, DEVIL RAYS:
Overview-Casey Fossum takes to the hill for the fifth time this season as he tries to win the series for the Devil Rays off of last night's outing by Jamie Shields. Fossum, a first round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox in 1999, made his major league debut late in the 2001 season and pitched in parts of two other campaigns for Boston before being traded to Arizona in the package that sent brought Curt Schilling to Boston in the 2003-04 offseason. After a 2004 season in which he struggled mightily out of the rotation for the Diamonbacks, he was dealt to the Rays for RF Jose Cruz Jr. In 2005 Fossum split time between the bullpen and starting rotation, posting a 4.92 ERA in 162.2 innings of work. Fossum struggled last year with the Rays displaing a lack of control amidst a 5.33 ERA in 25 starts with the ballclub, missing part of the season with shoulder troubles. This year has been somewhat of a mixed bag for Fossum. He made two starts against the Twins and Orioles in which he surrendered five earned runs in 14 innings of work, but that was sandwiched in between two outings in which he gave up 13 runs in 9.1 innings of work. Overall he has a 6.94 ERA on the season, and he hopes to improve on that today. Though he has displayed excellent control thus far, just three walks given up in 23.1 innings of work, he needs to avoid his tendency to get hit hard, as opponents are batting .306 off of him. And while his groundballs to flyballs ratio is exemplary, the few pitches he has left up in the zone have killed him, as evidenced by the high home run rate. Fossum hasn't been particularly good against the A's all-time, and especially not so at Oakland Coliseum, so maybe the struggling Athletics offense is exactly what he needs to get over the proverbial barrier against this ballclub for the first time.
Recent Starts-Fossum struggled last time out against the New York Yankees, as he was unable to finish out the sixth inning and gave up six runs on ten hits and two home runs in the outing. He still managed to pick up the win in the ballgame, but his two prior starts were far better. He pitched seven innings each in Minnesota against the Twins and at home against the Orioles, while giving up five runs over the two starts. This followed up a horrible season debut for the lefty, when he faced the Blue Jays and gave up seven runs on eight hits in 3.2 innings of work.
vs OAK-Fossum has done horribly all-time against the Athletics dating back to his days with the Boston Red Sox. His most recent outing against Oakland, and the second of his two starts all-time against the Athletics, came last August 12th. Fossum did not get out of his second inning of work, spotting Oakland five runs on five hits and five walks in just 1.2 innings of work. He has an 8.36 ERA all-time against the A's in 14 innings of work, inclusive of five relief appearances and the aforementioned two starts. He might have lucked out however in that Milton Bradley is injured; Bradley had the most at bats against him of any Oakland hitter, and also the most success. A's catcher Jason Kendall does have a degree of success off of Fossum though, going 4 for 11 all-time against the Rays' lefty.
RH Dan Haren, Oakland:
Overview-The Athletics send Dan Haren to the mound to face the Rays this afternoon, statistically their best starter so far this season. Originally a second round pick of the Cardinals in the 2001 draft, Haren made his major league debut with the Cardinals in late 2003, posting a 5.08 ERA in 14 starts. He pitched in 46 innings of work for the Cardinals next year before being sent to the Athletics along with Daric Barton and Kiko Calero in the trade that shipped A's ace Mark Mulder to St. Louis. So far Haren has been phenomenal out of the Oakland rotation, being a consistent cog and an innings eater for the A's ballclub in two seasons of starting in their rotation. He posted ERAs of 3.73 and 4.12 in 2005 and 2006, respectively, in full seasons of work with the Athletics, and so far this year has even bested those seasons of production. He has a 1.41 ERA going into his sixth start with the Athletics, and although his strikeout and walk rates are underwhelming, and his opponents' balls in play average comes in far below average, it is reasonable to expect an improvement from Haren this season and an ERA in the mid-3s over the long haul. He is by no means unhittable and he will regress, perhaps even tonight with that bad G:F ratio awaiting the Rays' lineup, but he should be a consistent innings eater for the A's ballclub this season, and for a several more.
Recent Starts-Aside from a lone start against the New York Yankees on April 13th in which he surrendered three runs in five innings of work, Haren has been excellent for Oakland in each of his starts this season. He allowed four runs in six innings in his season debut start against Seattle, though none of those runs were earned, and similarly just one of his two runs allowed was earned in his following seven inning outing against the Anaheim Angels. He has started twice against Anaheim this year, with his last outing at home against the Angels on April 18th resulting in a four hit shutout over seven innings. Last time out on Monday in Baltimore against the Orioles, Haren gave up just one run again in seven innings of work, with his only mistake being a solo home run given up.
vs RAYS-Haren has a pretty good track record of success against Tampa Bay in his four starts against the ballclub over the last two years. He has a 2.48 ERA in 29 innings pitched against the Rays over those two seasons, though he did give up six runs (four earned) on 10 hits over six innings in his last start against Tampa Bay on August 11th of last year. Jorge Cantu has the most success among Rays hitters all-time against Haren, as he is 3 for 11 with a home run and a walk. Rocco Baldeli was scorching hot in seven ABs last season against Haren, though he is unlikely to start today due to injury.