Game 47 Summary: The Triumphant Return of Game Summaries from Their Hawaiian Slumber
by Philip Michaels
If there is a template for your typical 2007 A's win, I think it breaks down thusly: stellar starting pitching keeps the opposition at bay until somebody -- usually Nick Swisher -- comes through with a big hit. For Friday night's win over Baltimore, Dan Haren supplied the stellar starting pitching while the role of Somebody, Usually Nick Swisher was played by Nick Swisher. That's the kind of a gameplan that lends itself to .500 or thereabouts seasons, but when it works, it's a beautiful thing to watch.
Game 47: A's 3, Orioles 2
Your Pitchers of Record: WP -- D. Haren (5-2) LP -- E. Bedard (3-3) S -- A. Embree (2)
Went Deep: Swisher (7), Millar (5)
Your Rosenblum Cellars Zinfandel Cuvee XXIX Star of the Game: Very obviously, it's Dan Haren, who pitched seven innings of two-hit ball, with only high game-time temperatures and high pitch counts in previous starts preventing him from pitching even deeper into the game. Haren's 1.70 ERA now leads the American League -- only San Diego's Jake Peavy has a lower earned-run average.
This is about the time we would start agitating for Haren to be considered as the Junior Circuit's starter in the All-Star Game, but the last time an Oakland pitcher got the starting assignment in the Mid-Summer Classic, it didn't turn out so well. Oh, Mark Mulder got the win in that game, best some Bush Leaguer who's currently scuffling his way through the Yankee farm system. But that was just about the high-point of Mulder's 2004 season. After starting the year 12-2 with a 3.21 ERA, Mulder's post-All Star game performance troughed into a 5-6, 6.13 ERA death march. He had given up just 9 home runs in 131 2/3 pre-All Star Innings; he gave up 16 homers in the final 94 innings he pitched during that season. And his strikeouts-to-walks ratio fell from 2-to-1 to 1-to-1. That off-season, Mulder was traded away for a trio of players... that included Dan Haren.
So I'd rather not have a summer repeat is what I'm saying.
The Turning Point: Let's go with Alan Embree entering the game in the eighth to retire Brian Roberts with a runner in scoring position. That kept the A's ahead 3-1 entering the ninth, and the way the bottom half of the inning turned out, Oakland would need ever out it could get.
Today's Backhanded Jason Kendall Compliment: When the A's catcher gunned down former Athletic Jay Payton in the third, it was the first time in 31 attempts that he had caught an opposing runner stealing. Beware, would-be American League base-stealers: When you run on Jason Kendall, there's only a 78 percent chance of you arriving at your destination safely!
A's Bullpen Tilts Left: With the addition of Erasmo Ramirez, the A's bullpen now has more lefties than a Berkeley town meeting. Besides Ramirez, there's Embree, Jay Marshall, Ron Flores, and Lenny DiNardo (who's headed to the starting rotation to spare us the discouraging sight of Colby Lewis' name among the probable pitchers).
Now That's a Stadium: Not that this has anything to do with anything, but Camden Yards is easily my favorite place to watch a baseball game. My personal top three: 1. Camden; 2. Dodger Stadium; 3. Wrigley Field. The other two have at least one flaw that keep them from the top slot (horrific traffic in the case of Dodger Stadium, high ticket prices in the case of Wrigley), but in terms of accessibility, affordability, sight lines, atmosphere, concessions, and the general friendliness and knowledge of the local fan base, Camden Yards takes the prize. I've rearranged travel schedules to the East Coast -- including red-eye flights and cross-country cattle-car excursions on Southwest -- just so that I could fit in a game at Camden Yards. There's not many other stadiums I would do that for.
All in All: This has been the second Haren-Bedard match-up in Baltimore this year, and both games followed an eerily similar pattern: Dan Haren is nails for most of the game, Bedard pitches well enough but gives up some critical runs, and then the A's bullpen does its level best to blow it to no avail. It's worked out pretty well for Oakland thus far, even if it is getting a little bit predictable.