Baseball Toaster Catfish Stew
Monthly archives: August 2004


Now the Fun Starts
2004-08-30 14:04
by Ken Arneson

Well, I was right about the Devil Rays series. The A's swept, but all three games were squeakers.

Next up: the White Sox. Their lineup seems a lot less menacing without Magglio Ordonez and Frank Thomas. The first game pitching matchup looks to favor the A's, but all four starters in the last two games have reputations for Jekyll-and-Hyde performances. What kind of games we get depends entirely on which pitchers decide to show up:

Tuesday, 5:05pm (FSN): Rich Harden (8-5, 3.80) vs. Jason Grilli (0-1, 9.00)
Wednesday, 5:05pm (FSN+): Barry Zito (10-9, 4.54) vs. Freddy Garcia (10-10, 3.84)
Thursday, 11:05am (ESPN2): Mark Redman (9-10, 4.59) vs. Jose Contreras (12-6, 5.04)

Meanwhile, this streak where all the contenders win every day is about to end. Tomorrow, the Boston Red Sox begin a stretch of nine games where they play the Angels, Rangers, and A's. These series will be crucial in determining if the wild card will go to Boston, or to the AL West runner-up. A sweep here or there, and somebody could quickly fall out of the race.

UPDATE: Freddy Garcia is going to miss his start with a sore forearm. Grilli will pitch Wednesday, and Felix Diaz will be called up from AAA to pitch Tuesday's game. Diaz is 10-2 with a 2.97 ERA in Charlotte this year.

A's-Rays Phase
2004-08-27 08:15
by Ken Arneson

The A's have gone 9-1 in their last 10 games, and gained no ground at all on the Angels and Red Sox. Poor Texas "only" went 7-3, and lost two games in the standings.

Nobody is letting up, so the A's need to keep winning this weekend. In theory, Tampa Bay should yield to the A's playoff steamroller, but this weekend's pitching matchups look surprisingly even:

Friday, 7:05 PM (KICU): Mark Hendrickson (8-12, 4.63) vs. Mark Redman (9-10, 4.30)
Saturday, 6:05 PM (FSN): Dewon Brazelton (6-4, 3.31) vs. Tim Hudson (9-4, 2.85)
Sunday, 1:05 PM (FSN): Scott Kazmir (1-0, 0.00) vs. Mark Mulder (17-4, 3.72)

Hendrickson and Redman are lefties of similar quality, Brazelton shut down the A's last Sunday, and Kazmir is the hot prospect that the Mets inexplicably gave away. The Devil Rays won't be pushovers.

2004-08-26 21:46
by Ken Arneson

An empty stomach? OK, these ridiculous Barry Zito excuses have to stop.

Really, I've heard them all now, and I've been watching, and I'm convinced now that there's only one thing wrong with Barry Zito: in each game, he needs to establish early on the ability to throw the curveball for strikes. If he does, he dominates. If he doesn't, he sucks. The curve sets up everything else for him. It's that simple.

Today, Zito didn't throw a curveball for a strike until the fourth inning. In the third inning, he yielded four runs. After that first good curveball, the Orioles got nothing else. The only thing stopping Zito after that was his pitch count.

Let's not confuse the issue. It's not about empty stomachs or his lack of zen mentality or his declining strikeout rate or bad DIPS numbers or listening to too many people. It's all about the curve.

My Kind of Game
2004-08-26 09:22
by Ken Arneson

I went to the game last night, and it was exactly the kind of game I love to watch: a pitchers' duel that the A's win dramatically.

Bruce Chen (!) was doing his best Barry Zito imitation, mixing high-80s fastballs, a changeup, and a big-bending curveball to confound the A's hitters. Like Zito when he's at his best, Chen had the A's either striking out or popping up.

But Rich Harden matched Chen pitch for pitch. He threw a lot of pitches in the first inning, but then he settled down, and got through eight innings without yielding a run.

Marco Scutaro sent us all home happy by hitting a two-out, three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth of B.J. Ryan. It doesn't get much better than that.

I'll be at the game today, too. Hopefully, Zito will continue his recent run of good pitching.

Mulder Wins Ugly Again
2004-08-25 13:27
by Ken Arneson

Mark Mulder won his 17th game last night, but he didn't look good doing it. Mulder dominated from April through June 24th, but since then he's been inconsistent. The only pitch he seems to have had good control with recently has been his fastball, and last night he had trouble that, too.

It's a testament to his talent (and run support), that he can keep winning even if he's not pitching sharply. Mulder said after yesterday's game that his mechanics are off. I hope that's all it is.

Billy Beane says he's not worried about Mulder, but I can't help myself. The last time Mulder went a month without being his usual dominant self, it turned out he was pitching with a broken leg bone near his hip.

Uff då. But this time, it's just mechanics, yeah, that's right, ya sure, oh yeah, he'll fix everything next time out, yabetcha, so dat Cy Young will go backta Oakland, instead of, ya know, heading off to dat land of Scandihoovians and fellas out dere named Olaf and Sven and Lars and Johan.

2004-08-23 23:15
by Ken Arneson

Hey, folks, Ken Arneson here. I'm stepping over from the Will Carroll Weblog for awhile to fill in while Mark takes some time off. Why anyone would go on vacation during a pennant race, I don't know. He's got some wimpy excuse, I forget what it is. Getting married or something.

So about them A's: I was watching the A's game on TV tonight, and tearing my hair out for the first five innings watching the A's fill the bases over and over again without scoring. Mercifully, Jermaine Dye, bad thumb and all, finally came through with a clutch hit, and the A's held on to win.

Miguel Tejada, as expected, got a nice ovation in his first at-bat. But the rest of the game was ugly. A lot of the ugliness came from the fact that the Raiders played at the Coliseum on Saturday night, and the field was horrible. There were bad hops all over the place. Hopefully, A's groundskeeper Clay Wood can take the next 24 hours and smooth out the field.

I was checking out the A's and Raiders schedules, and there are two more instances where the A's have to open a homestand after a Raider home game. The first game will be four days after a Raider game. The Raiders play on September 2, and the A's start a series against Boston on September 6. That gives Wood four days to clean things up, which isn't so bad, I guess.

The last homestand, however, starts the day after a Raider game. The Raiders play on Sunday, September 26, and the A's host the Mariners on September 27. It's hard enough to get Ichiro out without giving him a bumpy infield to hit through.

Raiders are also scheduled for home games on October 17th and 24th. In case of playoffs, break glass.

If the MLB championship ends up being decided by a bad hop caused by the NFL, it would truly be a shame.

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