Unlike the previous magnum opi, we'll keep this one short and sweet, as the salient points about Thursday's win over the Angels have already been made by Ken (hooray, Mike Piazza!) and Ryan (boo, horribly conceived relief counting stats!). Let's go crazy, bullet points-style.
Game Four: A's 4, Angels 3
Your Pitchers of Record: WP -- J. Duchscherer (1-0) LP -- F. Rodriguez (0-1) S -- H. Street (1)
Went Deep: Guerrero (2), Anderson (1), Piazza (1)
Your Bushmills Irish Whiskey Star of the Game: Piazza, for sending a ball into the Los Angeles of Anaheim night air. As you doubtlessly read in this morning's Chronicle, that's the first home run hit by Piazza in that Angels Stadium -- 40th ballpark he's gone yard in over the course of his career. (The only ones he's played in sans homer? The Metrodome and the newly opened Busch Stadium, says The Associated Press.
The Turning Point: After Kiko Calero's second disappointing outing in as many appearances this week, the Angels loaded the bases in the seventh with just one out and the A's clinging to a one-run lead. Enter Justin Duchscherer, who got Gary Matthews Jr. to hit a sac fly to center and induced a harm pop out from Orlando Cabrera. The A's lost their lead, but Duchscherer kept the damage to a minimum, setting the stage for Piazza's heroics in the ninth.
Kind of unfair then, that the limitations of baseball's scoring system demand that Duchscherer be saddled with the blown save for allowing one of Calero's runs to score on an out-making play. Yes, as pointed out in the comments to Ryan's post, Duke gets a vultured win. But the blown save leaves sort of a lasting statistical impression that he fell down on the job, and I don't see how you can reach any such conclusion having watched him pitch. Every one of the five batters Duchscherer faced failed to reach base safely; a stat that fails to recognize that kind of performance is BS all right, but I'm not referring to the abbreviation.
Hey, Hey, Jason K., How Many Runners You Strand Today?: Four, according to the box score, including two runners in scoring position when the Oakland catcher grounded out to third to end the eighth inning. All in all, Kendall went 0 for 5, bringing his average to a sizzling .100.
I understand that we are dealing with less than a week's worth of sample sizes and that Kendall historically posts a respectable, though not exactly eye-popping, on-base percentage. But as my one-time newspaperin' colleague Jonah Keri explains quite ably in this podcast, you really should stack the upper part of your lineup with the guys you want getting the most at-bats in any particular game. So I open the floor to this question: Is Jason Kendall really one of those guys? I kind of think not, but I'm admittedly blinded by rage.
Thou Shalt Not Leave Early: Thursday's game coincided with Maundy Thursday, and I missed the first three-and-a-half innings while at church. Services ran a bit long, and I needed to pick my wife up from the ferry, so I wound up ducking out a little early, before the pastor wrapped things up. I got to my car and flipped on the radio just in time to hear Vladimir Guerrero smash a Chad Gaudin pitch all the way to Fullerton. And before I had even driven half-a-block, Garret Anderson hit another homer to about the same spot.
The lesson I'm taking away from this: God is very, very wrathful and hates it when you leave church early.
All in All: A nicely contested early-season game between two rivals with three of my favorite things contributing to the happy ending: 1) An A's win; 2) the killing blow coming at the expense of Francisco Rodriguez, sparing us the sight of his victory spasms; and 3) Mike Scioscia small-balling his way to loss column.
I have no idea whether the ongoing hubbub over SmudgeGate caused my favorite closer to lose focus long enough to serve up a mashable pitch to Mike Piazza. But it certainly didn't hurt the A's chances to scratch home a run against K-Rod.
So I say, we turn up on the heat on Francisco Rodriguez. Let's find more stuff that he could have possibly, conceivably may or may not have done. And while it's all well and good to have photos and an in-depth knowledge of the rule book to buttress my case, I'm kind of pressed for time today. So I'm just going to throw some things out there and hope they stick.
In addition to his closer duties, Francisco Rodriguez is also tasked with personally corking all of the Angels' bats.
When not in the bullpen, Francisco Rodriguez hides in the Big Thunder Mountain-like structure out in center field and steals opposing teams' signs.
Francisco Rodriguez recommended to Bud Selig that Baseball make the Extra Innings package exclusive to satellite TV.
Francisco Rodriguez falsely claims rosin and pine tar as deductible items on his taxes.
Francisco Rodriguez shot Archduke Ferdinand, plunging Europe into armed conflict.