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Number Nine... Number Nine...
2008-06-01 23:59
by Philip Michaels

Several little fun facts stood out from Sunday's 13-8 win over Texas, which we don't like to think of as winning ugly so much as we call it winning with inner beauty.

• When Rajai Davis grounded out end the eighth inning with Daric Barton on second and Kurt Suzuki on first, it was the first time all game that the A's ended an inning with runners on base. That's somewhat unusual that late in a game where you've already pushed 13 runs across the plate.

Nevertheless, that's what happened. The A's offense was largely impotent for the first three innings. Oakland scored its first run in the fourth when Jack Hannahan scored from third on a Bobby Crosby ground out. The fifth ended on a Hannahan sac fly which plated Barton but saw Suzuki tagged out at second after the latest questionable base-running decision by the A's catcher. The A's had a 1-2-3 sixth, and the seventh inning scoring fest wrapped up with a Mark Ellis homer.

Total number of runners left on base during the game for Oakland: 2.

• Thanks to Susan Slusser's game report, we know that the last time the A's scored nine runs in an inning was a 2006 game against Baltimore. (The nine runs came in the first; the rest of the game, the A's only scored one more run.)

You'd have to go back to June 18, 2000 to find the last time the A's scored more runs in an inning. Oakland hung a 10-spot on Kansas City during the top of the third on its way to a 21-3 victory. Frank Menechino, Ramon Hernandez, and Terrence Long all homered in support of Gil Heredia; Sebastain Janikowski tacked on the extra points.

Actually, Sunday's seventh inning -- in which eight runs had already scored by the time Texas recorded the first out -- reminded me a lot of an A's game last year against the Cardinals that I happened to attend gratis on the indulgence of a Missouri-born friend of mine. In the bottom of the third, eight A's batted and six runs scored before St. Louis could record the first out of the inning on a 4-6-3 double play. That was one of two six-run innings in the same game, which saw Tony LaRussa hand things over to Scott Spiezio in the bottom of the eighth -- the one-time Sandfrong frontman was the only Cardinal "pitcher" to not give up a run that evening.

• In the same Chronicle article linked above, Bob Geren called Mark Ellis' 13-pitch at-bat against Frank "Have a Seat, Lady" Francisco that culminated in a solo home run as "the best at-bat I've seen in 30 years." Dodger fans who remember Alex Cora's 18-pitch at-bat against Matt Clement are free to disagree.

2008-06-02 16:12:10
1.   Arturo
Lots of knowledge here among posters and readers. Sooooo, any of you horsehide savants explain why Daric Barton is still on the major league roster?
2008-06-02 17:07:08
2.   Philip Michaels
1 I guess it depends on whether you consider the A's a serious contender for a playoff spot this season. I don't, so I feel like the most important goal for the A's this season is to give the young, promising players -- Barton, R. Sweeney, Buck, Gonzalez, Suzuki on the offensive side, Eveland and Smith on the pitching side -- every opportunity to develop. And that means leaving Barton on the roster and giving him a chance to play, no matter how gruesome his May was. You've got to give these guys the freedom to fail and more important, the opportunity to work through their problems. Obviously, you reach a point where you have to make a decision one way or other, but I don't think two months into a rebuilding year is that point.

Now, someone who thinks the A's should be making a run at Anaheim this season is going to disagree with that.

2008-06-02 17:08:04
3.   Ken Arneson
1 Several reasons:

a. He's not hitting well, but he's batting OK. is OBP is .337, which is a league average OBP. Against RHP, it's .352, which is actually good.

b. The A's don't really have any other first basemen right now. Nick Swisher was traded. Dan Johnson is gone. Mike Sweeney is on the DL. The only alternatives right now are infielders who aren't really first basemen (Hannahan, etc.).

c. Billy Beane is not one to give into small sample sizes, especially in very young players. Barton had a bad May (.466 OPS). His March/April was respectable (.759 OPS).

d. When Beane calls up a young player whose talent he respects (i.e. Beane regards him as a regular, not a replacement level player), he's going to let him struggle through his slumps, rather than yoyo him up and down to Sacramento.

2008-06-02 18:47:29
4.   Philip Michaels
2 Or better yet, what Ken said.

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