The A’s Win a Weird One:: After an ugly loss the night before to start the 2nd half of the season, the A’s bounced back to win Friday night by a score of 7-3. But this wasn’t a typical win as there were a total of 14 walks (7 for each team), 7 stolen bases (4 by the A’s!), and 17 hits (9 by the A’s) in the game.
The A’s faced Joe Saunders who usually has the A’s number, but he has been struggling of late and that continued last night. He just didn’t look confident and gave the A’s opportunities in every inning he pitched.
Unfortunately until the 4th inning, the A’s couldn’t capitalize on those gifts. Bobby Crosby changed all that with a 3 run homer in the 4th.
The A’s never fell behind after that.
Morales’ Home Run: Three events stand out from the rest of the oddities. In the top of the 2nd inning, Kendry Morales hit a line drive to left that looked like it hit something near the fence and bounced back onto the field right to Matt Holliday. The third base umpire called it a home run. Bob Geren came out and asked for another opinion. The Umps decided to do a video review and 3 of them left the field to look at various replays of the hit. 1 umpire had to stay on the field to make sure that none of the players moved from their positions. The slo-mo replay footage that we saw in HD showed, at least to me (but not the TV broadcasters), that ithe ball hit the lens of the TV camera (over the wall) and bounced back onto the field. This was confirmed when the umpires emerged from the tunnel under the stands and the crew chief indicated a home run by twirling his upraised index finger and clearly mouthed the words: “It hit the camera.” I guess my eyesight is okay. The amazing part of the whole thing is that the camera man didn’t even flinch when the ball hit his camera!
Rajai Dekes the Angel’s Catcher: In the bottom of the 4th, Raj Davis stroked a ball into the gap off Joe Saunders and motored into 2nd base. He took his usual big lead and as Saunders began his move to the plate, Raj looked like he was going to take off for 3rd, but after a few steps he stopped. The Angels catcher, Jeff Mathis glanced at Raj and obviously thought Raj would retreat to 2nd. Instead, when Mathis softly tossed the ball back to the pitcher, Raj took off and stole 3rd cleanly. He scored on Crosby’s homer 2 batters later. What a great acting job, Raj!
Run, Raj, Run! In the bottom of the 6th, Raj Davis walked to lead off the inning. With Mark Ellis at the plate, Raj got caught a little too ffar off 1st base. But Saunders’ throw to 1st was way off target and went into right field rattling around among the chairs on the field near the Angel’s bullpen.
Raj took off and flew around the bases and beat the throw to home, putting the A’s ahead for good.
Hairston Gets Drilled a la Bobby Crosby: In the bottom of the 8th, one of Justin Speier’s sliders failed to break and hit Scott Hairston on the hand.
Oh, no, I thought. Isn’t that the same guy who broke Bobby Crosby’s hand with a similar pitch last year? Yup. I hope Scott is okay. We need him in the lineup.
In short, it was a strange game, but the result was great. As Glen Kuiper said, “This game was not a thing of beauty.”
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.
Even 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.
It 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.
We 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.
I Can Post Articles on My Blog Again! My last blog post was on June 16th. The next day Comcast hooked up the last leg of my Triple Play package, and I dutifully logged in to mlblogs.com, went to “My Profile” and followed the instructions for changing my email address. I blythely hit the “Submit” button. I’m not much of a techie so I felt a real sense of accomplishment.
A couple of days later, I decided to post a new article on my blog and logged in using my new email and password. Up came an error message that stated in angry red: “Authentication Error: Email and/or password invalid. Try again.” Hmm. Maybe the change didn’t go through, so I tried to log in using my old email address and password. Same result. I tried other email and password combinations to no avail. Oh no, I couldn’t log in. Disaster! I can’t post any more articles?
I quickly emailed mlblogs.com and explained my plight. To make a long story short, after 3+ weeks of emails and phone calls back and forth to 4 or 5 different people, most of whom kept telling me to log in using the old email address (which I kept telling them I couldn’t do), I found Jacob Wilson who understood what happened. Bless his heart, he imported my blog with all prior articles, comments and photos into my new email account. So I am back and writing again on all things A’s.
The A’s Team We Were Hoping Has Finally Showed Up! Wow, the A’s won a series, and against the Tigers, the AL Central’s leading team. Yahoo!! I attended Monday night’s 7-1 victory in which Brett Anderson pitched scoreless ball into the 6th inning, when he walked two.
The usually-reliable Michael Wuertz came in and gave up a double to Gerald Laird to score one of those walks, marring Brett’s great outing. The A’s bats came alive in the 4th inning when Matt Holliday singled and Jason Giambi walked. Kurt Suzuki doubled in Holliday and Ryan Sweeney singled in the G man, giving the A’s the lead for good. The guys added on the rest of the runs in the 5th and the 6th inning, highlighted by Mark Ellis’ first homer of the year, a two-run blast, and another two runs on Sweeney’s 3rd of the season.
Small ball added the last run in the 8th.
Yesterday produced a 5-1 win to give the A’s the series win over Detroit. Highlights included Dallas Braden
pitching 7 innings of 5-hit, 1-run ball,
followed by 2 shutout innings from Brad Ziegler who now has the set-up role,
and Andrew “Daily” Bailey, the team”s closer to everyone but Manager Bob Geren.
The day’s offensive fireworks came on 2 homers from Jack Cust (14)
and Jason Giambi (11)
scoring 4 runs between them. Detroit’s only run came in the top of the 2nd on a double from Gerald Laird, driving in Ryan Raburn who had singled.
I like this team. I hope they continue to show up. Maybe the much-hoped-for warm weather has finally arrived.
Everything is Clicking: Wow! 6 wins in a row! Everything appears to be working well: terrific starting pitching, great bullpen, the bats have heated up, and sterling plays in the field abound. This is exciting stuff and makes me want to go out to the Coliseum to see a game. I’ll have to wait until Tuesday.
Mazarro is Magic Again: Vin Mazarro pitched 7.1 shutout innings in today’s game against the Orioles. He looked like veteran pitcher on the bump today:
His fastball was in the mid-90’s, he painted the corners, and batters looked foolish. In short, he was awesome. After giving up a hit in the top of the 7th inning, Geren came out the mound and asked for the ball. As he walked into the dugout, all 17,208 fans were on their feet cheering wildly. “When I got off the field, I had goose bumps,” Mazarro said. “That was the longest walk off the field.” He now has pitched 13.2 innings of scoreless inning in his short major league career.
The Bats Cool Off: The A’s only managed 2 hits in the game today, but scored 3 runs in the bottom of the first on a hit, 4 walks, a hit batsman and a sacrifice. That was all they needed as Mazarro and the bullpen (Michael Wuertz, Craig Breslow and Andrew Bailey) kept the O’s scoreless. Hopefully, the guys will find their strokes and get the hits they need tomorrow.
The A’s Have a Closer: Even thought Manager Bob Geren won’t call him so, Andrew Bailey is the A’s closer. He throws wicked mid-90’s fastballs, paints the black, and hitters look silly either swinging wildly or slumping as they watch the ball cross the plate with their bat still on their shoulders. Andrew pitched his way onto the A’s at Spring Training, completely bypassed triple-A. By the way, Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson also skipped triple-A. If Bailey continues to dominate, he could be named pitcher of the week before too long.
Yankees-Giants Game Today: No, it wasn’t an MLB Interleague game. It was the championship game of the San Ramon Double-A Little League. Our neighbors son, Jack Holt, plays for the winning Mighty Yankees, and his parents invited us to cheer him on. It was wonderful to experience the young end of the baseball spectrum, and see these boys demonstrate the nuances of the game, play their hearts out, and show moments of brilliance at the plate and in the field. So support your local little league. That’s where the future major leaguers will come from. It’s fun to watch.
Yankee Series: After 3 games in Toronto, the A’s played a rain-shortened series in the new Yankee Stadium, losing both games to the Bronx Bombers. I won’t regurgitate the details of the games as they were painful enough the first time around. I will comment on Dan Giese, whom the A’s picked up on waivers a couple of weeks ago from those dreaded Yankees. He has the dubious distinction of giving up 2 walk-off homers to end extra-inning games in his first 2
appearances. He must be shell-shocked about pitching in extras by now. The sad thing about both outings was that he pitched 2 good innings before each walk-off, and the bullpen was depleted and Manager Bob Geren probably didn’t have a choice and had to leave him out there. Maybe he’s a 2-inning guy. We’ll see in the next month or so whether it was a good move to bring him over from the Yanks. The A’s will make up the rained-out game on July 23rd in New York.
10 MLB Teams Decline in Value: Forbes Magazine recently published an analysis of the value of the Major League Baseball Teams, and the results are interesting. The teams whose values declined the most are: the Nationals (down 12%), Braves (10%), and the Tigers and Mariners (9% each). You’ll be pleased to note that the A’s declined only 1%, while the Giants’ value is down 5%. In terms of dollars, the A’s are worth $319M and rank 27th in the majors. Only the Marlins, the Pirates and the Royals are worth less than the A’s.
At the top in terms of dollars is the Yankees ($1.5Billion! ), followed by the Mets ($912M), Red Sox ($833M), Dodgers ($722M) and the Cubs ($700M). The Yankees and Mets values were up significantly due to their new ballparks which opened this season. Interestingly, the average value of an MLB team rose 1% to $482M.
What’s really itelling is that the Yankees are currently in 3rd place in the AL East, and the Mets are in 4th place in the NL East, so value doesn’t necessarily translate into standing, at least not this early in the season. Also, the least-expensive Marlins ($277M) are leading the NL East.
Gallagher to Triple A: The A’s optioned Sean Gallagher to the River Cats to get him more pitching time. He has been the long man in the A’s bullpen and hasn’t pitched much this year.
I think the move was a good one for Sean, as he’ll join the rotation that includes Gio Gonzalez, Vin Mazzaro and James Simmons, all of who are doing well right now. Sean has talent and needs to use it regularly to hone his craft. Now he’ll get a chance to do that.
Coming Up: The A’s come home for a 3-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays tomorrow night and then go on the road again (does anyone else hear a C+W song right now?) to Texas and Seattle. Oh, the vagaries of the MLB schedule and the short shrift that the West Coast teams seem to get. 3 days at home? Give me a break.