I think the most remarkable thing about the A's blowout victory over the Giants was the time. The A's scored sixteen runs, and yet the game only took 2:14.
Normally, in a blowout, you start counting the hairs on your arms by about the fourth inning for some excitement, but not today. Rich Harden was breezing along; although he wasn't completely unhittable, he was throwing strikes, and every ball the Giants managed to hit hard was right at someone. When Deivi Cruz got a broken bat bloop hit to break up Harden's no-hitter in the fifth inning, I said to my wife, "there goes the last bit of tension that was left in this game." To which she replied, "No, the A's still have a chance to score in every inning."
Jason Christensen must have felt the missing tension, too. When the A's scored three more runs off him in the bottom half of the fifth, Christensen added some intrigue to the proceedings when he intentionally threw at the feet of Nick Swisher, who had homered earlier in the game. Swisher managed to dance out of the way, and both benches were warned.
I didn't know if Swisher had done anything that would make the Giants angry at him (knowing Swisher's cockiness, it wouldn't surprise me), or if the Giants were just frustrated from getting their butts kicked. In any case, that made things a bit more interesting for about thirty seconds, wondering if the A's would get back at the Giants in some fashion. But then Swisher hit another homer two pitches later, and that's the best form of retaliation of all. I'm a fair-weather Giants fan, so I don't derive any particular satisfaction from beating the cross-bay rivals, but Swisher's revenge was sweet. Even though it was 14-0 at the time, I jumped out of my seat to cheer it over the fence.
Incidentally, Swisher became the first A's player to homer from both sides of the plate in one game since Ruben Sierra. Which in my mind makes him the first A's player to ever to accomplish that feat, because I've had Ruben Sierra's existence in an A's uniform surgically removed from my brain. The procedure cost a lot of money, but it was worth every penny.
After Swisher's second homer, the teams started going through the motions. The A's passed up several opportunities to take some extra bases, and didn't score again. The last 2 1/2 innings were relaxing, and went by briskly.
Ron Flores followed Harden and pitched a perfect eighth. I like Flores. The guys throws slop, but he throws slop for strikes. Of course, he hasn't given up a run yet in the major leagues, so what's not to like? The only thing that bothers me about him is that every time I see him with his left-handed motion, wearing that #47 on his back, I have to stop myself from wondering when the A's signed Jesse Orosco.
Kiko Calero followed with a 1-2-3 ninth, and it was time to head home. Nothing like a blowout and a sweep to make a team look great. The pitchers are pitching, the hitters are hitting, and the defenders are defending. It was a good day to be an A's fan.
Since Bobby Crosby returned on June 2, the A's are 15-8; four of those losses are owned by Ryan Glynn, who is no longer in the rotation; and three of the other losses were to probable 2005 All-Stars: Roy Halladay, Livan Hernandez, and John Smoltz. This team is playing really well.
I got home, looked at the standings, and noticed that the A's are now just five games under .500, and those five games are the five games they've played below .500 in 31 games against the AL East. The A's have only played six games so far against the AL Central. The Angels, on the other hand, have had thirty games against the Central, and only six against the AL East; the LALALAAs will spend half of July and most of August working their way through the AL's best division. The A's are still 10.5 games out, but hope is alive.