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August 13, 2013
Colon exits early again, A's miss walk-off win by inches

OAKLAND -- Chris Young summed up Tuesday night's 5-4 loss for the A's much more succinctly than a blog post could, so let's start with him:

"That's how the game goes sometimes -- it goes from extremely crappy to amazing to unbelievable to crappy again," Young said. "Full process, all in a 3 ½-hour period."

The last shift -- "unbelievable to crappy again" -- occurred in a matter of seconds, the time it took for Young's would-be walk-off home run to drift just foul outside the left-field pole.

Young put his hands on his head in disbelief as third-base umpire Doug Eddings signaled the ball foul, and manager Bob Melvin came out to ask for a review, which the umpires did, though Melvin said Eddings told him he was "100 percent sure" of the original call.

Replays appeared to show the ball did stay just outside the pole, and instead of a dramatic win, Young was left with a two-strike count, and the game ended on the next pitch as he struck out swinging.

"From my point of view I thought it was fair, but I just appreciate the umpires going to check it out," Young said. "That's all you can ask for. If it's foul, it's foul. But go look at it and get it right, and they got it right. We were inches away from winning that game."

The A's have been on the wrong end of a home run ruled foul back in May in Cleveland, when Adam Rosales' drive would have tied the game but an on-field ruling of a foul ball was not reversed -- even after review. This time, Melvin was satisfied with the ruling.

"I just wanted them to take a look because we've been down that road before and there's a lot at stake in that particular play," Melvin said. "I just felt like as close as it looked for us and from the reactions, it would suggest a look. And I appreciate they went and looked at it."

Young said he was sitting on a curveball and "got the pitch I was looking for." It would have erased the second rough outing in a row from Bartolo Colon, who put the A's in an early 5-0 hole and was lifted after the fourth inning having allowed seven hits and thrown 77 pitches. It also would have made Jesse Chavez's 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief even more valuable, along with the eighth-inning A's rally that included an RBI single by Josh Reddick and a two-run home run from Yoenis Cespedes, who finished a triple short of the cycle.

Instead, the A's dropped just their second of 13 games to the Astros this season, though they didn't lose any ground in the West as the Rangers lost to Milwaukee (the score was shown on the scoreboard late Tuesday night, prompting some cheers from the crowd of 14,261).

In the end, as Melvin and Young said, the umpires did their due diligence in reviewing the play and, by all accounts, it appeared the original call was the right one. It made for a bitter ending to the night for the A's, but brought Young's description full circle.

"That's how the game goes sometimes," Young said.

* Tomorrow's print story focuses on Colon's outing, which followed his 2 2/3-inning shelling in Cincinnati last week. The two outings haven't been good, but really the number of ways to quantify them all stem from his remarkable stretch of 15 starts before that, when he pitched at least six innings and allowed three or fewer runs every time.

For example, Colon has failed to complete five innings just three times all year, including the last two starts. And he has allowed more runs in August already (10) than in the entire month of either July (8) or June (7).

But is it the sign of a late-season decline or just a couple of bad outings? Colon himself said his command was simply off Tuesday, and sided with the latter option: "After having 15 good outings I don't think too much about it. Now is just a bad moment."

Melvin, meanwhile, sounded cautiously optimistic when asked whether there's reason to be concerned about the 40-year-old. Despite the quick exit, Colon surpassed his innings total from his suspension-shortened 2012 season on Tuesday, at 154 1/3, is 10 innings from his total with the Yankees in 2011 -- the most he's thrown in a season since 2005.

"You know what, the guy's been really good for us this year and he's had a couple of starts where the velocity hasn't been as good, but it looked like it was back up a little bit today," Melvin said. "So we'll see going forward."

Before the game, Melvin said the A's will keep an eye on Colon going into September on whether he might need extra rest, such as the two extra days he got before the Cincinnati start. Colon, though, was blunt when asked if fatigue has been a factor his last two starts.

"I never feel tired," he said.

* Though the A's couldn't complete the comeback, they took some encouragement out of the offense awaking late. After the A's scored 29 runs in four games in Toronto, Melvin said he hoped taht was a sign more of the offense getting into gear than a swing through a good hitter's park, and for the first seven innings Tuesday it looked like they'd regressed a bit -- the A's put runners on in every inning except the first against 22-year-old Jordan Lyles, but scored their lone run off Lyles in the fifth, when Josh Donaldson hit a leadoff triple and scored on a double play.

Cespedes, at least, appears to have carried something over from the Toronto series and is 7-for-23 over the last five games. Donaldson also had a pair of hits Tuesday and is 9-for-23 in his last six. Jed Lowrie, meanwhile, snapped an 0-for-16 slide with a single in the eighth to kick-start the two-out rally.

Lyles, though he entered Tuesday with a 5.40 ERA, has shown he can be tough. Lyles had a stretch of seven starts earlier this year where he gave up two or fewer runs, which is tied for the longest such streak in the American League this season. The others who have done it are Felix Hernandez -- and Colon.

* Coco Crisp was held out of the lineup for the second consecutive day with a sore left wrist but did pinch run for Nate Freiman in the eighth inning after Freiman was hit by a pitch. Melvin said before the game Crisp is day-to-day.

Freiman had pinch-hit for Brandon Moss, which helped answer the question of who the A's emergency first baseman is -- sort of. On this night, anyway, it was the same as their emergency catcher -- Donaldson, who moved over from third base in the top of the ninth, making his fourth career appearance at first.

* In case you missed it from earlier -- Brett Anderson is scheduled to make a rehab relief outing Saturday for Triple-A Sacramento, marking his first game action since April 29. The fact Anderson will pitch in relief is an indication the A's are leaning toward bringing him back in the bullpen, at least to begin with.

* It's Jarred Cosart (1-0, 1.36) and Jarrod Parker (8-6, 4.04) in Wednesday's 7:05 p.m. start. Parker hasn't lost in his last 13 starts, in which opponents are hitting .193 against him. He got a no-decision in his only start this year against the Astros, throwing seven innings on July 23 and allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits.

-- Matt Kawahara

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About Bay Area Baseball

Matt KawaharaMatt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee’s sports staff in fall 2011.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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