Oakland, CA – The Florida Marlins ended their twenty-four game losing streak. Their bats came alive behind a pair of home runs and superb pitching from Ricky Nolasco who pitched his second career shutout. The club knew that things would turn around at some point but not this quickly, at least for the Oakland A’s who lost 3-0 due to their lack of offense.
Marlins interim manager Jack McKeon had a meeting with his ball club this afternoon with just the hitters only. His focus was to reiterate having fun and letting the game to come them instead of working hard to find the missing offense.
“An educational meeting today to figure out what we need to do better offensively,” Mckeon said. ”Our pitching is fine but this was geared more toward the hitters. They’re trying, the effort is there but no runs. This is not a home run hitting team so we have to find a way to have fun out there.”
A few errors early by A’s shortstop Cliff Pennington proved costly as Emilio Bonifacio hit a ground ball to Pennington who hesitated on the throw to first but was late for the out. Bonifacio stole second after Kurt Suzuki’s throw to Cliff for the out but he didn’t have control of the ball. Hanley Ramirez followed with a two-run homer on a fly ball to center field and the Marlins took a 2-0 lead top of the first frame.
Nolasco held Oakland to five hits and retired 24 of the last 28 batters he faced behind stellar defense from Florida. In nine innings he gave up no runs, walked two and struck out three. Ricky hadn’t won since facing the San Francisco Giants on May 24 when he allowed just one run in 8 1/3 innings for a 5-1 victory.
“I threw a lot of fastballs,” said Nolasco. ”I just tried to stay hard and was able to locate fastballs in and out. Just tried to challenge them and stay aggressive. They swung early, I was just trying to use that to my advantage and keep getting ground balls.”
The A’s had a good pace going when both Pennington and Coco Crisp singled back-to-back. Hideki Matsui flew out to right field which advanced Cliff to third. While Conor Jackson was at bat Crisp stole second for his 24th steal this season. Ricky walked Jackson to load the bases but Ryan Sweeney hit a line drive to center field and that ended the inning.
Oakland got hits in the last three innings but could not capitalize them into scoring runs. Sweeney singled in the seventh but Suzuki grounded into a double play to end the inning. Jemile Weeks doubled with two outs remaining and Cliff followed flying out to left fielder Logan Morrison to end the eighth. Jackson hit a single in the ninth and that was another lost opportunity when Ryan flew out to center fielder Dewayne Wise to end the game.
“We didn’t have to much to show for some pretty good at-bats,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. ”We did hit some balls hard which adds to the frustration but you just work through it, you have no choice.”
Guillermo Moscoso pitched six innings, gave up two home runs, four hits, three runs (1 earned), no walks and struck out eight. He dropped his fourth straight decision and had no help from the A’s offense. A continuing battle to find hits at the plate remains the biggest challenge for the new manager. But he maintains a positive outlook that the struggle for more runs will pass, if it can happen for the Marlins, Oakland is bound to get on the right track.
“It was a mistake,” said Moscoso. ”I was making the right pitches tonight and was commanding my zone pretty well. The first homer, it was a curveball I left back door. It was was a homer, I don’t really care, I tried to be focused on the game and go deep into the game.”
Notes – Making their first appearance since the College World Series, the University of California’s cinderella baseball team was honored at the Coliseum tonight by the Oakland A’s prior to the team’s interleague game. Head coach Dave Esquer was recently named the 2011 National Collegiate Baseball Writers Coach of the Year. He was joined by his players for on field introductions as he threw out the first pitch. In one of the remarkable seasons in college baseball history, the Bears battled back from a potential final season due to budget cuts and six elimination games in the postseason to qualify for the school’s first College World Series appearance since 1992.
Written by: Malaika Bobino