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Games 5 and 6: Worst-Case Scenario Edition
2007-04-07 22:48
by Philip Michaels

It's a new low for the Game Summary department here at Catfish Stew -- not getting around to posting the game summary for Friday night's game until well after Saturday's contest has already been played. My excuse is... well, laziness, really. But also, I woke up Saturday morning, saw Ryan's post, thought to myself "Man, that pretty much covers it, and then went about my day. But in the interest of keeping my streak alive...

Game Five: Angels 5, A's 2

Your Pitchers of Record: WP -- D. Mosley (1-0) LP -- J. Kennedy (0-1) S -- F. Rodriguez (3)

Went Deep: Kendrick (1), Guerrero (3)

Your Royal Oaks Royal Rosé Star of the Game: Vladimir Guerrero, whose three-run shot in the seventh effectively made a comeback for the A's popgun offense the stuff of fantasy.

The Turning Point: You would think it would be the Guerrero home run since it both inspired the photo essay linked above and netted Bad Vlad the coveted Star of the Game honors. But it is not.

Instead, I'd like to go back a half-inning to the top of the seventh and the A's still nominally in the game trailing by a 2-1 deficit. That's when Eric Chavez led off with a double in a nifty 9-pitch at-bat that chased the heretofore relatively unhittable Dustin Mosley. Even the most pessimistic A's fan -- hi, everyone -- had to figure that Oakland would tie up the ballgame that inning, even when Bob Geren sent Mark Ellis up there with the low-risk low-reward plan of bunting Chavez over to third.

Ellis immediately fouled off both bunt attempts, putting himself in an 0-2 hole and taking the sacrifice off the table. Ellis battled gamely for another six pitches, but ended up swinging and missing at a ball out of the strike zone. Todd Walker followed with an easy fly to left. And Travis Buck ended the A's scoring threat by striking out, with strikes two and three wafting past him unmolested by any swing.

The inning could not have been more dispiriting to an A's fan if the at-bats had been interspersed with news clips of Lew Wolff announcing that he was scrapping the Fremont plan in order to build a new stadium/housing-development on Mars. Even when the A's engage in what Gregg Easterbrook would doubtlessly call a mincing fraidy-cat play like a bunt and play for one run, they are (more likely than not, it seems) unable to get it. That's not the sort of play that inspires the Faithful to free up their calendars late into October; hell, it's not the sort of play that really inspires them to stick around through July.

Dreaded Larry Davis Sighting: After a quiet couple of days, the Injury Bug made up for lost time. First, Milton Bradley got yanked from the lineup post-BP, thanks to the achy side that's been flaring up since the last week of the exhibition season. Then, Bobby Crosby departed after the bottom of the sixth, after back spasms flared up when he slid into second in the fifth inning or when a stiff breeze brushed up against him or something. Crosby's departure inspired the Chronicle's A's blog to come up with this aimed-at-inspiring comments headline: Crosby: Too Brittle or Too Much Battle? I admit that when I read that in my bleary-eyed state this morning, I thought it said "Brittle or Much Too Brittle?" I kinda like my headline better.

Turning Singles Into Outfield Assists: Mike Piazza looked like he was going to get the A's going in the fourth, with a shot down the left-field line that screamed double. Of course, Piazza's knees also screamed "Aging Ex-Catcher," and Garret Anderson was able to gun him down trying to leg out a double. It's plays like this where it's easy to see how Piazza earned the distinction of being the slowest player since 1900.

Oh Me Arm: Forget rosin stains on the ballcap -- Hangin' Judge Watson appears to be. Angels fans should be less concerned about Francisco Rodriguez's cap and more concerned that his arm will come flying off before Memorial Day. This was the Angels' fifth game of the season -- K-Rod's pitched in four of them, throwing 14, 27, 20, and 23 pitches, respectively.

Hey, I'm no master strategist like Mike Scioscia, but it seems to be that a 5-2 lead against a punchless Oakland team is about the time you leave Francisco Rodriguez in the bullpen and see if someone else is up to the task. As it turned out, Scioscia called on K-Rod, who promptly allowed the tying run to come to the plate for righting the ship.

His annoying little victory dance seemed less peppy than usual.

Uncharitable Comment of the Night: Jay Witasick enters the ballgame in the seventh with the A's down 2-1. "I guess we're conceding," I said to my wife. Four batters later, we pretty much did.

All in All: If you're an A's fan, chances are you said something like this prior to the start of 2007: if we can stay healthy and get some contributions from the offense, we can ride our pitching to victory. None of those three things came through Friday, which -- taking into account that this is just one game -- is nevertheless worrisome.

Game Six: Angels 2, A's 1

Yeah, didn't watch this one. The wife commandeered the TV set, and I was busy with both yard work and pan-searing an ahi tuna. It sounds like I didn't miss much.

Your Pitchers of Record: WP -- J. Lackey (2-0) LP -- D. Haren (0-2) S -- S. Shields (1)

Went Deep: No one.

Your Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Star of the Game: In the absence of a breakout offensive performance, we'll go with Lackey who continues to impose his will on Oakland every time he pitches against us.

The Turning Point: We'll defer to our good friends at The Associated Press:

With the Angels leading 2-1, the A's blew a big opportunity in the seventh. Eric Chavez led off with a double, and after Nick Swisher was hit by a pitch, Mark Ellis failed to make contact while trying to bunt a 2-0 pitch that appeared to be out of the strike zone, and Chavez was caught off second base.

Travis Buck hit a two-out single to put runners at first and third before Lackey struck out Marco Scutaro to end the inning.

Has anyone ever witnessed Mark Ellis bunt without mishap?

All in All: The ahi turn turned out deliciously, if that makes any of you feel any better.

2007-04-07 23:37:20
1.   Johan
I think Ellis bunted without mishap a couple games ago. Not sure which one, but during the M's series I think. That was, however, the first time in a long time that any A's hitter has bunted without mishap.
2007-04-08 01:19:12
2.   Agronox
That's why the A's didn't bunt. It wasn't because of Moneyball, or Sabermetrics, or whatever buzzword you want to say.

It's because they can't.

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