Pitching Ups and Downs

Young Pitching:  The A’s young hurlers are having some successes and failures, and some of the good things don’t show up in the win column.  We have to remember they are all under the age of 25, except the “veteran” Dallas Braden, who will be 26 on August 13th.  These young guys are learning how to be professional ballplayers in the major leagues, not in the minors where pitchers typically spend 4 or more years before being called up.

Brett Anderson had a terrific complete-game 2-hitter against the Red Sox in Fenway, which was electricfying to watch.  
scan0009.jpgEven the Sox fans acknowledged his feat with respect.  The day before, Gio Gonzalez looked great in his 5-2 victory over Cy Young winner Cliff Lee in Cleveland. But those were the only bright spots since Dallas Braden beat Justin Verlander on July 1st in  Oakland. 

Trevor Cahill struggled mightily in Cleveland, lasting 3.2 innings and giving up 8 runs (5 earned).  In Boston, he pitched well for 5 innings, but in the 6th gave up a solo home run to J.D. Drew and a 3-run shot to David Ortiz  Maybe Bob Geren needs to pull these young kids when they first get into trouble (like after Drew’s solo homer) until they get used to facing tough major league hitting.  In general, I think Geren leaves pitchers in too long.

Unfortunately, Vin Mazzaro pitched too well in his first 2 starts with the A’s.  His luck has turned since then. 
scan0010.jpgIt didn’t help that twice he had to face the Giant’s Tim Lincecum who is having another career season this year.  He has taken the loss in his last 4 starts, although he pitched well in his last outing but got no run support.

I won’t even comment on the Dana Eveland loss.  I think the A’s need to cast him adrift or trade him.  He has shown us over the last couple of years that he can pitch well at the Triple-A level, but falls apart in the majors.  He just doesn’t fool major league hitting and I think the A’s need to wake up to that fact. 

I hope that Dallas Braden does well today in Tampa.  We need our “veteran” Ace back.

Silent Bats:  Mention must be made of the A’s lack of situational hitting.  A lot of the losses might have been wins if the A’s could have driven in maybe half of the runners they had in scoring position. It often seems as if the bats don’t come alive until the 8th or 9th inning when they are in the hole, sometimes a deep one.  It’s too little, too late. 

Jason Giambi has been a real disappointment to the team, the fans and himself.  No one wants to win more than the G man.  Unfortunately, it looks as if he’s a little late when he swings at fastballs and doesn’t make contact.  But he’s not the only one who strikes out or hits into double plays. It’s been happening all too often up and down the lineup. Matt Holliday certainly isn’t helping his chances of being traded to a contender.  In short, the A’s just aren’t getting the key hits when they need them.

Scott Hairston:  To finish on a brighter note, the aquisition of Scott Hairston was a brilliant move by Billy Beane. 
Scott Hairston's Homer 7-7-09.jpgWe control him through 2011, and he is a terrific hitter and can handle the center field position very well.  Maybe he can ignite the lineup and they can score more runs to help out the young pitching staff.  Time will tell.  I haven’t given up on the A’s yet.  I just hope they don’t finish in the cellar.


  1. jeaniegpops@comcast.net

    Interesting and thoughtful article, Bee. I learn from reading what you say. ––Hugo

  2. sksca@sbcglobal.net

    I like your style. You seem to have an excellent grasp of the game. Obviously you follow it more that I do, but I am still a fan, just discouraged right now.

  3. juliasrants

    Jason Giambi is interesting to watch. We Red Sox fans have quite a history with him with the Yankees – and it is a little sad to see him playing not at the same level. The A’s gave the Red Sox a tough time. Good luck to all our young pitchers!


  4. sandy.m.olsen@gmail.com

    Guess I’m looking at the ups and downs of the pitching staff as growing pains. They are getting valuable experience for future seasons. Situational hitting hasn’t been an A’s feature for years, and without power hitters they need to drive in runs when the opportunity is there. Hope they do better in the second half of the season. I’m with you, bringing up the rear in the division would hurt.

  5. contractyear

    Thanks to all who commented on this article. I must admit that I got a little excited when I thought Cal Ripkin Jr. posted a comment on my blog, but I am glad to make your aquaintance, calripkenjr_8. All baseball fans are my friends. We are a special breed and good people. As for the others commenters, I appreciate your thoughts greatly. Keep visiting my blog and post comments often. It will help me get my book published. Feel free to forward my email or blog URL to any friends you think might be interested.

    And don’t get too discouraged. We saw what this team can be in Tampa. They have never given up even when in a big hole. I just hope they can start scoring runs in bunches earlier in games. They are all getting a much needed rest this week. And the A’s usually do well in the 2nd half. Go A’s!!!

  6. sandy.m.olsen@gmail.com

    7/15 – Just read Ray Ratto’s column in the SF Chron. You can read it on sfgate.com (“A’s are Coasting to Nowhere”). Ouch!! Ray’s never been known for his optimism, but he may have a point here. I hope somewhere in the minors the A’s are developing a few good hitters. Our young pitchers don’t stand a chance without better run support. I still believe, though. Go “second half” A’s!!

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