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Game 10 Summary: Let Us Never Speak of the Ninth Inning Again
2007-04-12 13:28
by Philip Michaels

Wednesday's scheduled Athletics-White Sox face-off -- "game" does not seem an appropriate word choice as that suggests that some amount of pleasure is involved -- is a tricky one to write up, seeing as how it was not on TV and contested during work hours. Nevertheless, we will endeavor to do our best, which is more than can be said for the A's offense from the second inning onward.

Game 10: White Sox 6, A's 3

Your Pitchers of Record: WP: D. Aardsma (1-0) LP: H. Street (1-1) S: B. Jenks (2)

Went Deep: Dye (1)

Your Coca-Cola Star of the Game: Jermaine Dye, whose two-run eighth inning blast tied up the game to set up the chain of events in the ninth where the wheels fell of the Oakland wagon. Why, Jermaine, why? And after I came to your defense, too. You know what I say to that, Jermaine?

Boo. Booooooooooooooooo!

The Turning Point: We'll go with those two ninth-inning pitches that Huston Street through the thrice-damned A.J. Pierzysnki that could have been called strike three but weren't. Street says in the funny papers that the calls, while not necessarily bad ones, could have gone either way, and since I only have Ken Korach's accounts and descriptions of the contest, I'll have to take Street's word for it. But since the calls went the way they did, the A's went from having two outs and a runner on first to one-out/two-on situation, and Street lost his control from there on out.

"I'm Chris Hansen with Dateline NBC. What Are You Doing Here at the Coliseum?": By far my favorite commercial -- and by "favorite," I mean the one I openly mock -- playing during A's radio broadcasts is the one for the A's Kids Club in which a harried father tells his son that he can only pick out on souvenir to commemorate his trip to the Coliseum; no worries, pops, the kid says -- he's a member of the A's Kids Club so he gets all the loot he needs. And after an announcer lists all the merits of membership, the father asks his son, "Can I join the A's Kids Club?"

The question is absurd on its face -- of course, you cannot, old man. Which one of you has custody of the other one? Which one of you drove to the park and sprang for tickets? Do those sound like the sort of claims someone age 14 and under could make?

Nevertheless, the kid in the radio ad comes up with a much more polite response: "Sorry, Dad. Kids only." If I wrote ad copy, the rejoinder would be, "No way, you creepy weirdo." Which is why I'm not in advertising.

Dreaded Larry Davis Sighting: Watching Tuesday's game, I noticed Milton Bradley walking somewhat gingerly after he scored the tying run in the ninth and opted to ignore it. Bradley strained his hammy as it turns out and, with the Thursday off-day, the A's opted to give him two days of rest in advance of the Yankees series. So the well wishes and intricate spells holding the easily-injured Bradley together appear to be working, more or less.

A head's up from Susan Slusser: Bobby Crosby's off-day on Wednesday was pre-planned and Shannon Stewart will likely be out of the lineup Friday. We mention this so that no one thinks either player suffered some severe injury, which is a natural assumption when anyone in an Oakland uniform is out of the lineup.

The Lesson As Always -- Listen to Phil: I've been squawking about Jason Kendall's lofty position in the batting order for longer than I care to (see this summary for the most lucid rant), and it's nice to see that Bob Geren sees the same things I see. Even better, if this post from Slusser is anything to go by, it sounds like this move is not of the temporary nature. I don't know if Shannon Stewart is necessarily the answer -- I think he'll eventually come around, but I have nothing to base this on rather than gut feeling and a momentary bout of optimism -- but I like him getting four or five at-bats a game more than I like Kendall doing it.

It's just as well the game wasn't on TV. When the lineups were announced with Kendall in the eight slot, we might have been treated to a shot of Ray Fosse in the booth with a single tear running down his cheek, a la Iron Eyes Cody. With the game only on radio, Foss could take the time to compose himself off air.

All in All: Much will probably be made of Duchscherer giving up the game-tying homer to Dye and Street completing the come-from-ahead loss in the ninth. Indeed, in my bout of post-game glumness, I ruminated that perhaps Huston Street is not so reliable when asked to pitch on consecutive days -- certainly on a day game after a night game. But I have no evidence of that, and it seems kind of fruitless to start looking at this point. Sometimes guys just don't get the job done. The A's bullpen did its duty on Sunday against the Angels and on Tuesday against the Sox; that they couldn't repeat the feat Wednesday is just one of those things. No sense looking for any larger meaning in what is probably just a blip in a 162-game season.

What I do have evidence of is the A's inability to hit the ball consistently over the course of a nine-inning game. We've got 10 games in the books now, and Oakland's bats have really come through in only one of those. Wednesday repeated the pattern: set aside the three-run outburst in the first inning, and the A's only notched a hit and a walk for the remaining eight frames. Bash Duke and Street if you want, but those guys can at least point to delivering at some point over the first 10 games. How many A's batters can say the same thing?

2007-04-12 15:48:13
1.   Scott Long
Here are my brief reflections from watching the game on TV.

The strike-zone was tight the whole game. Mark Buerhle got squeezed early in the game, which aided the 3 runs the A's scored. At one point he did retire 17 of 18 batters, though.

The pitches that Street threw were all the same pitch in the same location. All of them could have been a strike or a ball. They were that close. Considering that the home plate ump was consistent all game with his zone, it was probably pretty fair. Now, if you hate A.J. and are rooting for the A's, I'm sure you would have a different view.

In my pre-season power ratings I had the A's the 3rd best team in baseball. If they keep Kendall and Stewart in the 1-2 spots, I think I will be off, as they are killing the team.
(Early season OPS Podsednik over 1000 and Erstad 670 vs. Kendall 354 and Stewart 458)

The A's look horrible on offense with some unknown named Travis Buck being the only brightspot outside of great pick-up Piazza. Sure it's early and the A's never start taking off until after the All-Star break, but there is so little room for error with this poorly constructed offensive team. Where are the hitting prospects?

Since the A's are my favorite team next to the White Sox, I hope my viewpoints are off, but of all my pre-season rankings, Oakland is the one I'm most concerned about from watching them so far.

2007-04-12 15:56:45
2.   Philip Michaels
"The pitches that Street threw were all the same pitch in the same location. All of them could have been a strike or a ball. They were that close. Considering that the home plate ump was consistent all game with his zone, it was probably pretty fair."

That was, more or less, what both Huston Street and Bob Geren noted in the post-game comments -- that the calls could have gone either way and that they didn't have any problem with it going against them. Certainly, on the
A's radio broadcast, no one expressed outrage at the ball calls, which is something that Ray Fosse has been doing with increasing frequency in recent years.

2007-04-12 17:29:41
3.   jmoney
I agree with your conclusion, Phil. The bullpen guys are going to blow leads sometimes; that's just the way it is. The real problem is that the A's can't score any runs, and our relief aces have to pitch every day, because the sticks can never put any distance between the A's and the opposition. Sometimes I just get sick of rooting for a team that can't score. I did enough not scoring in high school, thanks.

I will say that I'm pleased with Geren so far. That he actually had the balls to remove Kendall from the leadoff spot already makes him waaaaaay better than Macha.

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