There are many little in-jokes and rituals we go through as a group on our A’s UK Zoom watch-alongs.
Our superstitious side was in full effect for Saturday’s game against the Astros having lost the first two games of the series. Sitting in different places in our respective homes, different coloured jerseys, me keeping score of the game for the first time this season: we tried a bunch of things and none of them worked.
Some would conclude that what we do has no impact on how the team plays. Our conclusion was that we tried too many things at once. We sincerely apologise to Bob Melvin, the A’s players and the rest of the A’s fan base.
These are the types of discussions you have when you’re watching your team getting thumped again. Us Brits are masters at gallows humour and our American friends who join in our watch-alongs are accustomed to it now too. However, there was one major point of contention yesterday and it came up because it’s been a key issue for the A’s over the first three games of this season.
Runners In Scoring Position is something you’ll find in game reports and more detailed box scores. If a team has runners at second and/or third base then they are considered to be in scoring position and it’s useful to know how a team (or individual player) has hit when they are in this situation as, unsurprisingly, it can be crucial in scoring runs and winning games.
You’ll see it abbreviated to RISP in writing, but our pal New York A’s Jay is insistent that no one says “risp” nor even ever really says “R.I.S.P”. When you talk about it, you refer to it as “Runners In Scoring Position”, apparently.
Well, not in A’s UK. “Risp” is very much a thing to us, not least following the AL Wild Card Series against the Chicago White Sox last year. When we were finally managing to get some runners home, we channelled the power of Craig David’s smooth classic “I’m Walking Away” to celebrate our team “Risping away”.
If you’ve watched any of the A’s three games so far you’ll know that there hasn’t been any call to break out that song.
When you look at the scores from the three games so far the obvious starting point is to focus on the runs allowed (8, 9 and 9). There’s no question that if you have to score 9 or 10 runs to win a game then the offence is being put in a tough spot. Yet plenty of those runs came late on in the games.
In Game One we allowed 2 runs in the eighth inning and 3 in the ninth, in Game Two we allowed 3 runs in the ninth inning and in Game Three we allowed 4 runs in the ninth inning. It’s not at all to say the Astros were lucky in winning the games, just that the margin of the wins was largely a result of a couple of pitchers being lit up when the game was pretty much lost anyway (especially poor Reymin Guduan).
What’s hurt the A’s the most over the three games is that the batting line-up hasn’t capitalised on the opportunities they have created. That’s illustrated clearly when we look at how we have hit with runners in scoring position:
- Gm 1: 1 for 8
- Gm 2: 0 for 6
- Gm 3: 1 for 8.
Whichever way you look at it, it’s tough to win games when you go 2-for-22 with runners in scoring position. The way to win games is to be Risping Away and it’s just not happening right now.
So far we have had to pull Craig David from the playlist and whilst we haven’t filled the silence with anything else as yet, if we did we would probably end up swaying sadly to George Michael. Collectively the batting line-up have been Careless Rispers to this point.
Fear not: not coming through in these moments over three games is no indication that we can’t do it, nor that we won’t start doing it soon. We know that we have quality hitters in our line-up and things just aren’t clicking right now.
As George Michael sang in another classic: you’ve got to have faith.
There would be no better time to get our Risp game going than in salvaging a win from the final game of this series. Sean Manaea is the scheduled starter for the A’s and hopefully the batting line-up will find a way to help out our smiling assassin to get the first win on the board.
First pitch is 9.07pm UK time (1.07pm PDT) and it has been chosen by MLB.com to be today’s Free Game of the Day. That means if you’re not already a subscriber to MLB.TV, you can still watch the game live online. All you need to do is to register an account with MLB.com and you’ll be able to follow along.