Dodgers won one, A’s won one, Series 1-1

I’m not a big fan of two-game series, as the Oakland A’s just had with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

It’s not the lack of a winner, more that the series is over almost as soon as it begun. The difference between three games and two isn’t much, but it does make a difference.

Having lost Game One, with Sean Manaea struggling in what we have to hope was just a one-off bad night, you’ve got to be happy with a 1-1 series split, especially when Clayton Kershaw is posing a formidable obstacle to getting a win in Game Two.

With both games being 3.05 am BST starts, I had to settle for watching select innings on-demand and the MLB.com Game Recaps. That limited the amount of watching Dodger blue all over the Coliseum, although you can always count on the A’s fans that attend to shout down the opposing fans however many of them there may be.

Fiers on fier fire

The highlight of the short series had to be Mike Fiers’ A’s debut in Game Two.

There were several Dodger hitters less than impressed with home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski’s strike zone, none more so than Justin Turner when he was called out on strikes to end the top of the fourth. He had a point with the punch-out pitch, but the TV K-Zone showed the one before that he had shown his displeasure with caught the outside corner and, as Glen Kuiper pointed out on commentary, if Turner didn’t expect to be rung-up on anything close with the next pitch then he was the only person in the stadium to be surprised.

I didn’t realise Mike Fiers’ last start against the Dodgers was his 2015 no-hitter for the Houston Astros. It was a nice omen and you couldn’t be anything but encouraged with the way he went about his work. Much as it was a poor pitch to cough up Yasmani Grandal’s home run, that it came to lead off the fifth inning and was their first hit of the game showed how well he had stiffed the Dodgers up to that point.

Grandal also had the decency to give back to the A’s by dropping Manny Machado’s throw home to allow Marcus Semien to score the game-winning run in the eighth inning.

Getting runners home

It was also good to see the bottom third of the order, Stephen Piscotty and Ramon Laureano batting 7th and 8th respectively, knocking in runs in the fourth inning.

Fun as it is to watch Khris Davis thwacking yet another home run in Game One, we all know that the A’s have room for improvement when it comes to getting runners home when they’re not dispatching the ball into the seats.

Series sheet

As noted in my Tigers series update, I fill out my own series sheets to keep on top of what the A’s are doing. Here’s the Dodgers sheet. You’ll notice that I only note down the A’s side of things, other than showing the opposition’s starting pitcher.  It isn’t intended as a full record of the games, just my way of keeping track of how Bob Melvin is changing the batting line-up and using his bench and relievers.

I suspect most of it is obvious enough. Right-handers are written in blue, lefties in red, switch-hitters (Jed Lowrie) in green, with the numbers next to the hitters being hits and at-bats.

The one unique aspect to it is my RAGABU ‘system’ that I use to rate relievers. Pronounced raggaboo, it stands for Relief Appearance: Good, Average, Bad, Ugly and was my idea to have a shorthand note for relief outings (for starting pitchers I note their Game Score in brackets).

It’s purely intended as a bit of fun and a system in a loose sense of the word, in that there’s a basic structure behind the different ratings but I’ll subjectively push the rating up or down for a pitcher if I feel like it (for example, rating an appearance as Good rather than Average if they’ve been struggling a bit lately and it’s a positive return to form).

Up next: LA Angels

Where the series sheets come in really useful for me is in a three-game series such as our next one against the LA Angels.

Game Three on Sunday is a 21:07 BST start, but the first two games are at 3.07 am and 2.07 am for us in the UK, so I probably won’t catch all of them even with them being Friday and Saturday night (or Saturday and Sunday morning, if you prefer).

You get a decent oversight from reading game reports and watching highlights, yet it’s not the same as watching the games in full and I often feel a bit lacking when a Game Three day-game comes along and I haven’t watch the other games before it. Keeping my series sheets bridges that gap as it makes me look at the details a bit more than I would just scanning a box score.

Hopefully when I’m looking at it before Sunday’s Game Three there will be another win or two on the board in this surprisingly exciting A’s season.

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