As Ken noted in yesterday's game chat, the key to success for the 2008 edition of the Oakland Athletics is for me to not pay attention to them. Consider Friday night when the A's were planting a crooked number on Cleveland in the fifth inning -- I was wandering the aisles of the Alameda Trader Joe's, wondering why they don't stock the chicken lasagna anymore. For Saturday's game, I literally walked outside my home right at first pitch to do gardening and run errands and I didn't return until the game was over. With Ken Korach and Vince Cotroneo serving as my eyes and ears, the A's easily handled Cleveland to win their first series of the year.
Three times is a trend, as we say in the journalism business. And we'll be putting that theory to the test as the A's go for the sweep today. At about the same time Joe Blanton takes the mound to stare down Cliff Lee, I'll be watching my nephew's tee-ball game.
And if this theory sounds a little cracked, it's no worse than the "we only win when we wear these atrocious black jerseys" argument that is no doubt being advanced in the Oakland clubhouse right now.
Game 6: A's 6, Cleveland 1
Your Pitchers of Record: WP: D. Eveland (1-0), LP: C. Sabathia (0-1)
Went Deep: Ellis (2)
Your Gordon Biersch Marzen Star of the Game: Young Dana Eveland, who was stellar in his Oakland debut -- seven strong innings with seven Ks and a WHIP of 1.0. Let's hope it's a sign that the long tradition of surprising useful fifth starters in Oakland -- Erik Hiljus, Aaron Harang, Kirk Saarloos, to name just a few -- is set to continue in '08.
The Turning Point: A big meanie would say it was when C.C. Sabathia got the starting assignment. The AL's reigning Cy Young winner is now 1-4 lifetime with a 7.12 ERA when called upon to pitch in the land of his forefathers.
But I am not a big meanie, not today at least. So I'll say the Turning Point was probably Jack Cust's first-inning double that plated Mike Sweeney and Emil Brown and gave Oakland a lead it would never relinquish. Or it was the nifty escape act the suddenly rejuvenated Keith Foulke pulled off in the eighth when the game was still within Cleveland's reach. With a runner on and one out, Foulke had rung up a 3-1 count on Travis Hafner -- one more pitch out of the strike zone and Cleveland brings the tying run to the plate. Foulke buckled down, striking out Hafner on a changeup and getting shortstop/typographical error Jhonny Peralta to pop out to right. Threat over, game in hand.
Mr. Three True Outcomes: No, not Cust -- rather it's South Dakota's all-time home run leader Mark Ellis. In 22 at-bats, Ellis has just three hits -- two of them, however, are homers.
Mr. One True Outcome: Travis Buck rode the pine yesterday, which is just as well. He's 0-for-18 as of this writing, with nine strikeouts and a swing with so many holes in it, you could probably run straight at him while he's swinging without any fear of getting struck.
Dreaded Steve Sayles Sighting: Donnie Murphy collided with Cust chasing down a third inning pop up, and the result of the collision was about what you'd expect it to be -- bad for the non-Cust party. Murphy sprained his right middle finger (leaving him dangerously unarmed to respond to motorists who cut him off in traffic) and had to leave the game.
Also, Justin Duchscherer is getting an MRI today to see exactly what's going on with his bicep. Depending on the answer, we're either going to see Chad Gaudin a lot sooner than we expected or Greg Smith or maybe Lenny DiNardo, but hopefully not Dallas Braden.
All in All: The A's have had a fine weekend against Cleveland, with strong pitching and timely hitting. It'll be even nicer if I ever get a chance to see that kind of performance with my own eyes.