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A's Grab Early Lead, But Drop Tough One to Pirates


Written by: Bill Martin
Sunday, April 30, 2006

Paced by strong pitching by starter Ryan Simalchik and clutch hitting by second baseman Billy Martin, the A's jumped to a 2-0 lead through 2 innings, but could not hold on, dropping their first game to the visiting Pirates, 7-2.  Simalchik started off the first inning rally with an infield hit, followed by a couple of walks to Matt Canuso and Kevin Gault.  With 1 out and a 2 strike count, Billy Martin drilled a ball up the middle, and then legged it out for a hit.  Simalchik scored easily, but Canuso streaked around third to score the second run. 

Simalchik shut down the Pirates bats in the first two innings keeping his ERA at 0.00, helped by some nice fielding.  Centerfielder Andrew Spillane made a leaping play on a deep fly ball, to keep the Pirates scoreless.  Mark Beachy performed well at third base, stopping anything hit toward him.  Mark Lemmerman continued to improve in the field and at the plate, getting on base twice.   

When Kevin Gault took the mound in the top of the 3rd, Coach Martin turned the managing reigns over to owner Rob Simalchik to see if he could ignite the team.  The strategy backfired, however, as the Pirates bats came alive.  Coupled with a few walks and some timely hits, the Pirates took back the lead, 3-2.

The A's bats remained silent in the third, and they could not overtake the Pirates.  Closer Matt Canuso was uncharacteristically inserted in the 4th inning, and he mowed down Pirates 1-2-3.  Griffin Foster, nick-named "rally starter" from his perpencity to start off innings, walked to start off the 4th, but the A's could not get one going.

In the 5th inning, Canuso continued to fire strikes, but the Pirates made contact.  Louis Sarandoulias' diving effort off a shot by the lead off hitter fell short, and Rory McInyre saved 2 runs with a leaping effort in right field, keeping the ball in front of him.  Solid centerfield play by one of the A's team leaders Stephen Arfuso kept the Pirates from scoring.  But a hard, seeing-eye grounder sneaked past second base and right field and emptied the bases, and the Pirates were up 7-2.  The A's effort in the bottom of the 5th could not yield a run. 

Owner Rob Simalchik commented on the pitching effort: "Our pitchers threw a lot of strikes.  Kevin and Matt put a lot of pitches over, but when they did, the Pirates put the ball in play.  That's the nature of the game, but it tires out a pitcher at this time of the year.  I thought it was a great game overall."       

The A's play Wednesday night at field 4 looking for their first win. 

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