Ryan Cook has been almost lights out for the A's this season. Tonight was not one of those nights. The San Francisco Giants overcame a 3-1 deficit with four in the ninth to beat Oakland 5-4 and take the opener of the Bay Bridge series in Oakland. Cook took the loss, while Giants reliever Clay Hensley got credit for the win. Former A's reliever Santiago Casilla allowed Josh Reddick's 16th home run in the ninth, but picked up his 20th save.
A's starter Jarrod Parker went six-plus innings, allowing only a single run on four hits and two walks while striking out four. Struggling Giants starter Tim Lincecum actually resembled his former dominant self after the first inning, going six innings and allowing three runs on only three hits. Lincecum struck out eight. But he did walk four batters, as his control remained elusive.
After Parker went 1-2-3 in the first, the A's immediately struck against Lincecum. Coco Crisp led off with an infield single. He then promptly stole second and third base and scored on Jemile Weeks' single to center field. Josh Reddick then snapped his 0-for-19 slump with a bloop single that landed just in front of Nate Schierholtz. A walk to Yoenis Cespedes loaded the bases.
Then Seth Smith hit a grounder to Giants first baseman Brandon Belt.
Belt, instead of tagging first base for the force out, stepped over the bag and threw home, where Weeks slid home to beat the tag of backup catcher Hector Sanchez. Brandon Inge followed with a bases-loaded walk to force home the third run of the inning. To Lincecum's credit, he stopped the bleeding, striking out Brandon Moss, Kurt Suzuki and Cliff Pennington in order to keep the score 3-0.
The Giants scored their run in the top of the third when, after a leadoff single by Sanchez, Parker threw a wild pitch to advance him to second. Gregor Blanco then singled to right field for the RBI, making it 3-1.
But Parker would allow nothing else, and the bullpen effort of Jerry Blevins and Grant Balfour was splendid. Cook just could not shut the door. Belt's two run double and RBI singles by Sanchez and Blanco put the victory in the Giants' win column.
Who should the A's closer be going forward?
Good: Jarrod Parker. He definitely deserved to win. Unfortunately for him, it was one of those deals where the closer just didn't have it. But Parker was solid. He threw six-plus innings and did enough to exit with a 3-1 lead. He kept the Giants guessing with his fastball and changeup and continues to impress at home.
Bad: A's 7-8-9 hitters. You can't completely scapegoat the bottom of the lineup, but they do deserve some criticism. It's is not really the overall performance (1-for-10 with five strikeouts), but the lack of production in the first inning, when the A's could have ended the game right away. With the bases loaded and no outs, Moss could not put the ball in play. Needing only a sacrifice fly, Suzuki could not put the ball in play. And the last chance to produce, Pennington, struck out meekly. The A's gave the Giants an opening and they took it.
Ugly: Ryan Cook. It was bound to happen. Most closers have a bad appearance or two in the course of a season. Cook's was definitely tonight. His control was off from the beginning and walks—a season-long issue—were his undoing tonight. In total, he was charged with four earned runs. That is double the two he had allowed entering the game. This was a disheartening loss for the A's, who appeared well on their way to getting the opener against their Bay Area arch rivals.
Looking to bounce back from this tough loss, the A's will send Tyson Ross against Madison Bumgarner on Saturday, with first pitch scheduled for 4:15 p.m.