Game 15 Summary: Raise Your Hand If You Want to Go Faster
by Philip Michaels
The A's set aside the Angels with such rapid dispatch on Thursday that I had hardly finished the writeup for Game 14 before Game 15 was in the books. This is what happens when you pair up two teams who aren't very good at hitting the ball. (The Angels are currently batting .200 with runners in scoring position; the A's, .212.) In this particular series, the resistible force overcame the moveable object, and while the view from above .500 is certainly better than the view below, let's not fool ourselves into thinking this is a very good team right now. Except for the pitching, which is very, very, very good.
Game 15: A's 3, Angels 0
Your Pitchers of Record: WP -- D. Haren (1-2) LP -- J. Lackey (2-1) S -- H. Street (4)
Went Deep: Oakland's streak of games with home runs ends at 2. A shame, too, since the A's are currently last in the American League in slugging percentage.
The Turning Point: Not a whole lot of choices in a fairly uneventful game, but I'll go with the Nick Swisher force out that plated Jason Kendall with the first run of the game. You won't see this in the box score, but the 4-6 force out probably should have been a 4-6-3 double play. (My memory has Orlando Cabrera bobbling the transfer, but I was at work so my memory could be faulty.) A double play would have meant two down in the inning, and the Angels almost certainly would have escaped the third by conceding only a run; instead with one out, and runners at the corners, Eric Chavez hit an infield single that scored Marco Scutaro, and the A's had all the runs they would need for the afternoon.
The Angels' defense was absolutely terrible in 2006. That trend appears to be ongoing into 2007.
Names Is for Tombstones, Baby: Going by Ken Korach's description on the radio, I guess that the legal name of Anaheim's starting right fielder on Wednesday is The Speedy Reggie Willits. (Though perhaps he'll have to change that to The Poor Baserunning Reggie Willits as he was retired on a 1-2-5 force out in the sixth that helped snuff out a runners-at-the-corners-one-out rally for the Angels.)
My favorite instance of this phenomena -- where a player's name takes on a series of adjectives -- was in 2003 when you could not refer to a once-promising member of the Athletics outfielder without referring to him as Disgruntled Outfielder Terrence Long. To this day, I still call him by that name -- "Hey, did you see where Disgruntled Outfielder Terrence Long is now playing for the Yankees?" I observed last year -- just like Charlie Liebrandt will always be Crafty Left-Hander Charlie Liebrandt. Is there any baseball player in your world who's been saddled with a similarly unwieldy name?
Dreaded Larry Davis Sighting: As quickly as he returned to the starting lineup, Mark Ellis disappeared. Milton Bradley remains out of the lineup, but Bob Geren promises that he'll be in Friday night's lineup or your money back. (Offer not valid to anyone who pays money to attend Friday night's game in Arlington.)
From the same Chronicle story linked above, Sacramentans (Sacramentities?) should brace themselves for the twin wonders of Esteban Loaiza and Dan Johnson will be making rehab appearances in the state capital by the beginning of next week.
Here's a stat I came up with on my own: The A's swept the two-game series against the Angels in roughly the same amount of time (4 hours, 26 minutes) it took them to complete Saturday's 13-inning loss to the Yankees (4 hours, 25 minutes). This is largely because of the extra frames and not just because the Yankees play a particularly slow, deliberately paced brand of baseball.
All in All Thank goodness for the performance of the pitching -- the starters especially and the bullpen as of late -- because the A's offense continues to sputter. I'm as happy to be above .500 for the first time in 2007 as the next guy, but unless the A's start hitting and plating runners with something approaching consistency, it's going to be a short stay on the winning side of the ledger.