I'm writing these notes for Game 14, as Game 15 plays on my MacBook Pro through the courtesy of RadioShark. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep the two games straight and not start talking about Dan Haren when I mean to be talking about Chad Gaudin.
Game 14: A's 4, Angels 1
Your Pitchers of Record: WP -- C. Gaudin (1-0) LP -- Jr. Weaver (0-1) S -- H. Street (3)
Went Deep: Crosby (1)
Your Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Free Cone Day Star of the Game: You could make an argument for Bobby Crosby, whose three-run home-run in the fourth put the A's comfortably in front and silenced the increasingly vocal critics, at least for a day. But I'm going to go with Chad Gaudin, who pitched the longest outing of his career and might have blanked the moribund Angels' offense if not for a wind-aided Maicer Izturis double to score Reggie Willits in the eighth.
Funny thing about Gaudin -- when the A's hustled him into the rotation to fill in for the injured Esteban Loaiza, most people figured that it was a roster move the A's would be fortunate to endure. Christina Kahrl was particular critical of the move in this Baseball Prospectus Radio episode. And not only have Gaudin's three starts gone well, you could argue that he's probably turned in the best performance of any of the A's starters over the past few weeks. Maybe he won't be able to sustain that, but certainly, once Loaiza's ready to return -- and assuming Rich Harden doesn't miss too many starts -- you'd have to think that Gaudin will have secured a spot in the rotation.
Oh, and my free cone at the Jack London Square Ben & Jerry's was Turtle Soup, thanks for asking
The Turning Point: Again, not to give Crosby the short-shrift here by overlooking his home run, but let's talk about the plays that followed. With two outs, Travis Buck hit a catchable ball that Garret Anderson turned into a two-base error. Jason Kendall immediately followed up with a run-scoring single. The A's ended up not needing the extra run ultimately, but the four-run margin probably helped the remaining four-and-a-half innings progress without too much fuss.
Often, the difference between a loss and a win -- particularly when you've got an offense that isn't firing on all cylinders -- is the ability to take advantage when the opposing team gifts you extra at-bats. For one night, at least, the A's were able to do that.
Hooray, Aggression: One of the things that irritates me -- and you've probably guessed it's a very long and substantive list -- is when a relief pitcher comes in with a comfortable-yet-not-insurmountable lead and proceeds to nibble around the strike zone instead of forcing the batter to put the ball in play. Note to timid relief pitchers: player development programs have yet to produce a player who can overcome a three-run deficit by hitting a solo home run. But it's a heck of a lot easier for your opponent to come from behind when you're handing out free passes. Suggestion? Throw strikes.
Huston Street did exactly that last night, putting 11 of his 13 pitches in the strike zone. Neither Erick Aybar nor Casey Kotchman -- the last two batters of the ballgame -- saw a pitch that was called a ball. This makes me unspeakably happy.
Dreaded Larry Davis Sighting: Mark Ellis returned to the lineup after missing the last two Yankee games thanks to a Brian Bruney pitch to shoulder blade. And Rich Harden's semi-annual shutdown injury has yet to become official -- no major damage, the MRI declares! -- though he will miss his next scheduled start this Saturday against the Rangers. On the radio broadcast I'm currently listening to, Ken Korach says there's a chance Harden could pitch next week in Baltimore.
With Milton Bradley out of the lineup again last night, we can officially move from speculation about when he'll return from the hamstring pull to who will replace him on the active roster once he's inevitably placed on the DL.
With Vladimir Guerrero out for this series thanks to an errant Josh Beckett pitch, we can excuse Angel fans for not exactly feeling much sympathy over our assorted owies.
All in All: For the second time in three games, the A's bunched all their scoring into one inning. This time, they were able to hold onto the lead, facing perhaps the one offense with even less pop than their own.