Your Pitchers of Record: WP -- Contreras (1-1) LP -- Harden (1-1)
Went Deep: Thome (2), Podsednik (1). I'm sure an Oakland player probably hit one out in BP.
Your Louis Jadot Beaujolais Star of the Game: Jim Thome. There might be an outcry for Scott Podsednik to win this, given his uncharacteristic offensive output. But it's Thome who came up with the crushing blow to tie the game in fourth, and the RBI single to put the game out of reach at 3-1. You know the old saying: "If the A's are down by two/chances are your game is through."
The Turning Point: Two moments, one following right after the other, stand out in my mind. In the third, the Eric Chavez works a six-pitch walk from a struggling Jose Contreras to load the bases with two outs. Contreras throws two consecutive balls to Nick Swisher. Ah, but the 2-0 pitch finds the strike zone and Swisher looses a less-than-optimal swing -- resulting in a pop-up to left.
Jim Thome leads off the fourth for Chicago and finds himself on the happy end of a 3-0 count. Rich Harden throws what seems like a get-'em-over strike that, unfortunately, Thome chooses to mash to straight-away center.
In the span of two batters, the A's went from blowing the game wide open against a struggling pitcher to watching Jim Thome slowly circle the bases and tie the game. If that's not a momentum-shifting chain of events, I don't know what is.
Jay Marshall Watch: Things did not work out so well last night for My Magnificent Lefty Sidearmer. Oh, the seventh went well enough, in which my favorite Rule V draftee needed 13 pitches to retire the Sox in order (including getting Enemy of the People A.J. Pierzynski to hit a feeble and giggle-inducing comebacker.) Ah, but with two left-handers leading off the eighth, Bob Geren got a little bit greedy and left Marshall out there. Podsednik singled, Erstad bunted him over and that pretty much consigned the A's to leaving Marshall in until Thome's at bat. We've already mentioned how that turned out. Two runs were charged to Marshall, lifting his ERA from 0.00 to 4.15 and doubtlessly cementing his status as a one-inning kind of pitcher. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Pods and Ersty, and For Runs We Are Thirsty: The White Sox fielded a lineup featuring Scott Podsednik (on-base percentage of .343 in 2,548 career plate appearances) and Darin Erstad (.341 in 5,803 PAs) in the top two slots. Perhaps this is a poorly timed observation seeing as how Pods went 3-for-4 last night with a double and a home run (only two more to match 2006's output!), but man, that's a lot of outs at the top of order. (Indeed, for as good an evening as Podsednik had, Erstad looked terrible against Harden, striking out in both his at bats. He was able to get that aforementioned sacrifice down. No one makes an out like Darin Erstad.)
I think, before all is said and done in 2007, Podsednik and Erstad will make a historic one-two... well, punch isn't the right word. How's about a one-two light slap? Anyhow, I think they need a nickname. Just as McGwire and Canseco were the Bash Brothers, just as Clark and Mitchell were the Pacific Sock Exchange, just as Maris and Mantle were the M&M Boys, so too do Pods and Ersty need a joint moniker.
Me, I favor "And With Two Gone, Here's Paul Konerko," but I recognize that's not exactly pithy. My one-time blogging compatriot Jason suggested "Grit and Grittier," which is not without its charms.
But I throw this question out to the vast Catfish Stew listening audience: What nickname should the Podsednik-Erstad lineup combo have? Please place your suggestion in the comments; the winner will have the distinction of being named Star of the Game sponsor for the Wednesday get-away game against the Sox. Who knows? Maybe Pods or Ersty can take home Star of the Game honors that day.
Seems unlikely, but it would be fitting.
Phil's Not-So-Phun Phacts: With two home runs, the A's find themselves at the bottom of the American League in that category. And I don't really see how that position is likely to change much during the year. Who on the A's would you say is a safe bet to top the 30-homer mark this season? Nick Swisher, probably. Milton Bradley, if he remains healthy and that's a skyscraper-sized if. Piazza, I guess, though I have my doubts. At any rate -- not a lot of sock in that lineup, and there'll be even less if a frustrated Swish starts swinging wildly like he did in the sixth last night.
And while we're on that subject... while the A's can't hit for power, they're certainly swinging like it -- they lead the A.L. in strikeouts. On the Action 36 telecast, otherwise known as Happy Talk with Glenn and Ray, Glenn Kuiper dismissed that stat by noting that 12 of those came off of Felix Hernandez in a single game and that thing would eventually even themselves out. He may well be right. Of course, it's one thing to have King Felix strike you out; it's another to make Mike MacDougal look unhittable.
Stuff That Probably Reflects Poorly on Me: So... backstory: Back in my college days, my pal Wrenn and I were tooling around San Francisco when we happened to come across a guy wearing a Boston Bruins jersey bearing Cam Neely's No. 8. Mr. Hockey Jersey was... well, we shall charitably say he did not cut the same dashing figure that Cam Neely did in his prime. Hey, few of us do. Nevertheless, Wrenn was moved to observe, his voice quavering with sincere concern, "Man, Cam Neely looks terrible." And in the ensuing 15 years, whenever I encounter a similar physical specimen, I imagine Wrenn saying that and enjoy a private chuckle.
Anyhoo... last night the Action 36 cameras are panning the stands, when they happen upon a silver-haired gentleman with a handlebar mustache looking as stricken over the goings-on as the rest of us.
"Hey, cheer up, Rollie Fingers," I said out loud to the TV. That this was probably my lone source of amusement all evening is not a good sign -- for the A's or for me.
You Stay Classy, Oakland: The boos that reign down on Ex-Athletic Jermaine Dye every time his name is announced confuse and irritate me. "Take that for breaking your leg in a playoff game," the idiot boobirds seem to be saying. "Take that for signing the ill-advised contract extension that Billy Beane offered you. And how dare you sign with another team when Oakland had no interest in retaining your services? Boo! Booooooo!"
Dye served the A's honorably and as best he could under the circumstances. He never acted like a jerk when he was on the team or after he left. If one cannot applaud politely, then the next best response is to sit silently. Booing Dye for no reason other than the fact that he's wearing a different colored shirt makes the rest of us look like chumps.
Now, A.J. Pierzynski you can boo.
All in All: It's still early yet -- I figure we can trot that chestnut out for another week -- but the current manifestation of the A's are doing the one thing that's worse than losing: being unspeakably boring while doing it. Scoring a run or two each night and hoping your pitchers can do prevent the other team from doing likewise is not only a poor recipe for success, it's also unlikely to leave the paying customers entertained.
Here's what Bob Geren told the Chronicle, post-drubbing: "You don't want to have a disappointing game, but these guys played hard. We just didn't get the big hit." The way things are looking right now, Geren ought to just type up that statement, Xerox it, and hand out copies to the press after each game -- it might save him a lot of time.