Toronto overpowers Oakland as Kazmir exits

With Scott Kazmir being traded to Houston Thursday morning, the A’s turned to a platoon of pitchers against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Drew Pomeranz, who has starting experience, threw 44 pitches over 1-2/3 innings, Dan Otero (L, 2-4, 6.07 ERA) went another three innings, and Arnold Leon took the A’s through the eighth inning and Eric O’Flaherty pitched the ninth inning.

The result wasn’t horrible by any stretch against the Blue Jays’ high powered offense, but it still wasn’t enough to win, as the A’s lost to Toronto 5-2.

A’s manager Bob Melvin said:

“It’s going to be a progression to get him there. To go back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen, and he hasn’t thrown than 20 pitches, and had an extended time off, so 45 pitches was what we were looking for today. And it’s not an easy thing to do.”

Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey (W, 4-10, 4.53 ERA) nearly made it through the whole ballgame before being replaced by reliever Bo Schultz. Dickey threw 8-1/3 innings, allowing five hits and two earned runs, striking out six A’s hitters.

Oakland’s trade of Kazmir signaled that, as expected, they are in full punt mode, and trades should continue over the next eight days.

Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay

Kazmir was supposed to make a start Thursday, but the Astros weren’t about to wait. Pomeranz, who has been coming out of the bullpen this season, was less than effective, and terribly inefficient.

The 26-year-old lefty was pulled during the second inning, which prompted the question: Could he have been traded?

No, Pomeranz just wasn’t prepared to make a full start, and unless a quick turnaround was quickly coming, he wouldn’t have made it a whole lot further, even though 28 of his 44 pitches were for strikes.

The A’s got both of their runs across in the third inning, shortstop Marcus Semien scored on a Billy Burns single, and Burns scored on a Josh Reddick ground ball, ruled a fielder’s choice.

Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson homered, accounting for three of Toronto’s runs, Edwin Encarnacion scored on a sacrifice fly and Martin scored a second time on a double by Chris Colabello.

All the while, A’s players began the game on a solemn note. Outfielder Josh Reddick said:

“It’s never easy to deal with, losing a good teammate and a great guy like that. Especially one who’s been on of our better pitchers for the year. But we all know how this business works over here.”

Reddick continued:

“All the talks and speculation with him going, it’s something you can try to prepare for but once it happens, it’s tough to see someone like that go.”

Melvin said despite the loss of a great pitcher, the A’s shouldn’t have a problem trudging along:

“It shouldn’t be hard to play baseball. Granted, everyone talked to Kaz, and sorry to see him go, he was a big personality in the clubhouse and certainly performance wise was a big key for us. But once you get onto the field, that’s what you have to focus on.”

The company line before the trade was to blame an abundance of media outlets, a farce considering that there are fewer outlets now than there was 10 to 15 years ago.

Now, the rhetoric shifts into another gear. That the team must move on, play baseball like nothing happened, despite a team compiled of mostly youngsters, save for Billy Butler, Sean Doolittle, and Coco Crisp, who might not play this season.

Melvin explained a mantra that he will echo to the club:

“If you get too far out and you’re worried about what potentially can happen, or what shoe will drop, you’re not focused on what we’re trying to do today.”

Next up on the potential list of soon-to-be ex-A’s players: Utility player Ben Zobrist, relievers Edward Mujica and Tyler Clippard, starter Jesse Chavez, catcher Stephen Vogt and first baseman Ike Davis. It’s not out of the question that Reddick gets traded as well.

It’s also likely that Reddick understands how delicate the situation is as he hits peak value, with acknowledgements that the Angels inquired on him earlier in the year. Reddick is batting .283 with a .793 OPS, 42 runs and 56 RBI.

That’s not exceptional for an outfielder, in fact it’s pretty average for a Major League starter, but some of his defensive efforts make him a more valuable trade piece.

The A’s begin a road trip Friday in San Francisco at the Giants before heading to Los Angeles against the Dodgers.

Both teams are looking to add, and it wouldn’t be surprising if one or two players stuck around the stadium as each series ends.

Oakland’s plan is to replace Kazmir’s spot in the rotation with Pomeranz, and injured Jesse Hahn‘s spot will likely be occupied by Chris Bassitt, though the A’s won’t say for sure.


Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Athletics.