Milton Bradley scored the winning in run in Tuesday's game, but Marco Scutaro got to wear the hero's crown. In Wednesday's 9-4 win over the Yankees, Bradley got to keep the crown himself.
Bradley drove in the A's first two runs with a bases loaded single, cutting a 4-0 Yankee lead in half. The next inning, Bradley drove in the tying run with a bases loaded walk. And then in the eighth, with the score still tied, Bradley showed off both his power and his speed. He hit a ball off the center field wall, and motored all the way around for a leadoff triple. He scored the winning run one batter later, as Robinson Cano couldn't handle Jay Payton's grounder with the infield in.
A little bit of patience, a little bit of contact, a little bit of power, and a little bit of speed. It's characteristic of Milton Bradley and, if it's not too soon to start trying to characterize a team, it's characteristic of the 2006 A's as a whole. Nobody really stands out with eye-popping superstar talent, but everyone is above average. With all the talk of where the A's new home will be, and what they would be called, perhaps the most appropriate name would be the "Lake Wobegon A's".
It struck me today watching several runners go from first to third that, wow, the A's actually have some pretty good team speed. Of all the hitters on the 25-man roster, only Frank Thomas and Dan Johnson are slow. Pretty much everyone else on the A's has above-average speed. As a longtime A's fan, that feels so weird to say. In the past, for every Rickey Henderson, there were seemingly two Mark McGwires.
The A's really only made one mistake all night, when Dan Haren hung a slider, and Gary Sheffield did what Gary Sheffield does with hanging sliders. The rest of the night, the A's pitched great, and played perfect defense.
I suspect this might be the A's M.O. this year. Playing against the A's will be like playing a master baseline player in tennis: they'll just keep putting the ball back in your court, time and time again, steadily, steadily, steadily, until you finally make a mistake, and you lose.
Each A's game becomes a bet with the other team: I bet you can't play as long as we can without making a costly pitching or defensive mistake. And whatever kind of mistake you make, we have enough power, or speed, or contact skills, or patience to take advantage of it.
On Wednesday, that's exactly what happened. Derek Jeter booted a grounder that kick-started the A's first rally. Bradley received the RBI free pass, scored on the error by Cano, and tripled when Johnny Damon couldn't run down his centerfield blast in the eighth. And then to finish it off, a fastball down the middle to Frank Thomas. Bases-clearing double, game over.