A group weblog for Oakland A's fans

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Terrence Long must go. I know I keep saying this, but every day it is more true than ever.

The only thing he can do is catch the ball. He has no arm. He thinks he's a power hitter. He can't hit anything resembling a tough pitch. He's a terrible baserunner. He doesn't hustle. He has no idea what the strike zone is. Heck, he can't even catch the ball in center field for some bizarre reason.

What's the damn point? How is this a better player than the waived Adam Piatt, or for that matter Billy McMillon, or Eric Byrnes?

The worst part is the inane decision to bat Terrence Long leadoff. I don't know whose idea this is, but as Jay Sherman would say, "It stinks! It stinks!"

Terrence Long's OBP is .301. This is not quite the worst OBP among Oakland's starters today, since Chris Singleton ekes him out at .300. However, it is 9 points worse than anyone else. Ah, but he must then be a fearsome hitter you want to get more at-bats by batting at the top of the order, eh? Well, not so much. Terrence Long's OPS is .714, which sucks, sucks even more for a corner outfielder, and is the third-worst among starters today. Heck, it's 26 points worse than the exiled Piatt and the pitifully underused McMillon, not to mention Eric Byrnes and his .799 mark.

Why is the best OBP man on the club (by 38 points) hitting fifth?

Wait, it's got to be a fluke, he'll snap out of it, right? I don't think so. Terrence Long's OBP last year was a sparkling .298, with a nifty .688 OPS.

No, I don't think he's this bad. I think he's a .260/.310/.420 hitter who is getting a bit unlucky. But a .310/.420 leadoff-hitting corner outfielder? What's the goddamn point? If you're going to play him for his defense, which must be the goddamn point, why not pinch-hit for him in key situations? (Or, of course better, use him as a late-inning defensive sub.)

Well, at least he's signed through 2005. Whew. Wouldn't want to let this one get away; after all, when you're a small-market team, right, you need all the advantages you can get.

Ah, a weak strikeout. Fantastic. I mean, obviously there is little else to complain about the game today, and this will be my last full-length T-Long screed until next season, I promise. But the guy is just an embarrassment in every way.

Friday, August 15, 2003

You know, Harden didn't look all that bad today. He was fooling people, still -- the Jays just have a really good lineup, is all. Sometimes you're going to run into Eric Hinske on a good day jacking two balls. It happens.

This was the first really good lineup that Harden has faced. The troubling thing was that he had pretty good stuff and they still beat him: just waited him out and ran into some pitches. Boston, with their patience, can execute the same game plan, which worries me about next Wednesday.

Josh Towers... still not a major league pitcher. Not fooling really anybody, the A's just can't hit consistently. I think the most disturbing thing about tonight's game is the fact that the game really went pretty predictably -- we ought to have lost this game, and in fact we did. Hm.

Pitching matchups for the Toronto series:

Friday: Harden vs. Towers. Contrast in styles: Harden's heat versus the control of the Oriole ex-prospect Towers. Obviously you've got to like this matchup. I have zero faith in Josh Towers's ability to be a major league pitcher.
Saturday: Hendrickson vs. Hudson. Hudson vs. the Jays is a great matchup since he can in principle negate their power attack by keeping the ball down. I like our odds here too.
Sunday: Halladay vs. Zito. If Zito couldn't complete a sweep of the Tigers versus Bonderman, I see no way he can beat Halladay to complete a prospective one here. (I'm not counting my chickens or anything, but we clearly do have the advantage in the first two games.)

Just like in the Mulder-Lowe matchup, we have the advantage in the pitching matchup. I agree that Mulder is unlikely to be outpitched by Lowe, but our lineup is _really_ unlikely to outhit the Boston lineup, and I think this makes it a tossup at best. Meanwhile, Halladay-Zito is maybe even at best on paper, and with the difference in offenses is a huge advantage for Toronto. I'm not saying we'll definitely lose, I think we have a reasonable chance, but obviously Toronto should be favored there.

We start the series a combined five games behind the jousting Red Sox and Mariners. A sweep leaves us a combined two games behind them, which is excellent shape. Two of three leaves us four games behind, which is not such excellent shape. Six or eight game behind, total, would really, really suck.

Another pressure start for Harden.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Two of Three At Fenway?
Here's how:
Mulder is strictly a better pitcher than Lowe; he won't be outpitched like that twice in one week.

Then you need either the rookie Harden to step up (he's better than either Suppan or Wakefield to enough of a degree that even the rookie-vs.-veteran aspect shouldn't daunt him), or the much-less-likely lightning in a bottle for the Huddy-Pedro matchup.

That is, two games where the A's are mild favorites and one where the Red Sox are prohibitive favorites. I'm content with those odds.

Oh goody: I get to play the insufferable optimist. This worked out pretty well on Monday; who knows how long it can keep up.

I'll readily agree that Oakland is less talented than Boston or New York. (I have my doubts about Seattle. More on that to come, maybe.) Nonetheless they're capable of hanging with any of these teams and even the schedule is more favorable than it looks.

Right now in the loss column we have New York and Seattle with 47 each; Boston with 51, Oakland 52. There are also seven Mariners-Red Sox games in the next week-and-a-half, guaranteeing four or more losses for one of those teams.

Let's say the Red Sox come out worse, losing at least four of seven. (I don't think this will happen, but it could.) Can the A's take five of seven from Toronto? Optimistic, I know, but doable. An Oakland 5-2 plus a Boston 3-4 would be a two-game gain. Then just one win at Fenway means a tie in the wild-card; two wins at Fenway mean a two-game lead.

On the flip side, what if Boston dominates Seattle? I think the worst-case scenario is the Red Sox taking exactly four of seven. So let's say Boston takes five of seven. The A's taking five of seven from Toronto would make it two games in the loss column for the AL West race. True, there are the three mid-week games with Oakland at Boston and Seattle at Toronto; is it asking too much for the A's to keep pace on those?

As AL West optimism goes, Oakland and Seattle face each other six of the last nine. (For the other three, A's get Texas, in theory a slightly more favorable opponent than Anaheim.) If the A's go into the penultimate weekend down a game, then they'll need to take 4 of 6 versus the Mariners. At that point, that's what playoff teams do, no? Even if they're down two games, well, make it 5 of 7 (including the tiebreaker).

Getting back to the wild card, again you're right that Boston is the better team, and also the team that's (again) in the lead. In the short term, getting back that lead isn't out of the question (am I crazy to target two of three in Fenway?), and the later in August the Red Sox find themselves trailing, the more chances they have to second-guess themselves and go into a tailspin.

Am I overreacting? Yeah, of course.

But there's a big difference between being up a game on a superior team and being down a game to a superior team (not to mention the game with respect to Seattle.) This is the thing -- the A's are not as good as the teams they are chasing. I've really felt bleak the entire year -- the team has been coasting, as if they expect to win just based on talent (I'm looking at you, Chavy.) They seem lackadaisical and angry at the same time instead of doing somethingg constructive. I think they'll probably hang around until the end and lose.

The thing is, you can coast on talent when you have more talent than the teams in front of you. The A's don't. They have a much, much worse offense than the Yankees, Red Sox, and Seattle, a worse bullpen than all of those teams (in my opinion, I know the stats don't really back this up, but the A's really only have Foulke and sometimes Bradford.) Their defense is really, really good, and their starting pitching is superb, but I don't think it's enough.

So they need to get lucky. And play smart. And not let up. Like the Angels did last year. They haven't been doing any of this.

And another thing -- how are those matchups supposed to be comforting? While Hudson pitched out of his mind before, you can't expect him to beat Pedro and, more to the point, the Sox lineup again. Mulder will likely do better but that's probably a toss-up. Harden vs. Wakefield also, the A's can't hit Wakefield, they have never been able to, and Harden hasn't faced a lineup of this caliber (though after tomorrow that will no longer be the case.) The Sox will wait out his command problems, get a couple runs early, get him out, and feast on the pen, especially if Jim Mecir pitches again. (I have to disagree with Macha putting in a pitcher just off the DL who hasn't pitched in the majors in a long time, in extra innings against our most important rival this year.)

I will be quite surprised if we can take two of three there. Even if we do, there is the matter of the schedule. Sweeping the Jays here is a must. It starts tomorrow, I'll be there, Harden tries to play the role of stopper.

Mike, would what you just posted have been nearly so bleak, had the A's won today?

One reason I ask: There is a small matter of the series in Fenway next week. My wild guess about pitching matchups:

Tuesday = Mulder vs. Lowe (rematch)
Wednesday = Harden (not Lilly!) vs. Suppan (maybe Wakefield?)
Thursday = Hudson vs. Pedro

There's also the Boston-Seattle series this weekend (and the one next weekend). Suppose Oakland swept Toronto (which won't happen, though I like 2 out of 3); that would be two games gained on either the Sox or Mariners.

Anyhow, I'm not ready to look at 2004, because I'm overreacting to the overreaction of suddenly giving up on 2003.

With 2003 virtually over (the Sox have an easier schedule and more home games left, and are a much better team; Seattle is out of sight, and the Yankees are a much much better team and have an easier schedule and are quite a bit ahead), let's take a look at 2004. What will the 2004 A's look like?

One problem is that a number of players on the roster are due for large raises. Chavez will make an extra 1.65 M, Hudson 1.85 M, Zito 1.8 M, Mulder 1.8 M. I'm getting the information from this wonderful site, which doesn't have the details for Long and Hernandez, but IIRC both of them are getting significant raises.

So that's probably about $10M extra in payroll. Ruby will get a raise in arbitration, certainly, from his current 1.065M to I would guess about $3.5M. (Still an excellent deal for us, of course.) Lilly I think is arb-eligible, but I'm not sure and even if he is I wouldn't expect him to get a large payday.

The outlook, therefore, is not good. Miguel Tejada and Keith Foulke are coming off the books; Tejada is making I believe $5M this year, Foulke is making $6M. I could see the A's keeping Foulke, who has been excellent, for the right contract. Chris Singleton's 1.2M is coming off the books (unless we exercise his 1.8M option, a possibility I suppose), but Hatteberg's shiny new contract gets him $1M. Jermaine Dye's and Jim Mecir's contracts are about the same.

Although I am not sure about this, I believe that Chad Bradford is arb-eligible. I have no idea what sort of results to expect from the arbitration process on that front. Ricardo Rincon is signed to a $1.7M deal, and I expect him to also leave (I believe he's a FA; he may still be arb-eligible.) All in all, if we lose Foulke and Tejada, our payroll will probably be about the same. Assuming our penurious owner stays in character, we won't be able to make any sort of acquisition. I'm hoping for retaining Foulke, but we'll see I guess. Guillen will presumably decline arbitration and be gone.

So what do the 2004 A's look like? Obviously worse than the 2003 version but not that different, just like the 2003 A's were obviously worse than the 2002 version but not that different. If we don't re-sign Foulke, I don't know...

SP Tim Hudson
SP Mark Mulder
SP Barry Zito
SP Rich Harden
SP Ted Lilly

RP Keith Foulke / Acquired In Trade
RP Chad Bradford
RP Jim Mecir
RP ?????? (Mike Neu?)
RP ?????? (Chad Harville?)
RP ?????? (Justin Duchscherer?)

C Ramon Hernandez
1B Scott Hatteberg
2B Mark Ellis
SS Bobby Crosby
3B Eric Chavez
LF Terrence Long
CF Eric Byrnes / Mike Cameron (okay, not going to happen, but this is who I want to see here...)
RF Jermaine Dye
DH Erubiel Durazo

Bench: Random Ken Phelps All-Stars

It's the same team, basically, with the same strengths and flaws. I expect Crosby to have a similar season to Tejada's 2003 in worth -- more OBP, less defense. (I've come to believe that Crosby is the real deal.) Jermaine Dye 2004 will probably be about the same as Terrible Jermaine Dye of 2003 along with the other right-field suspects. Terrence Long 2004 will probably be about the same as Terrible Terrence Long of 2003 along with the other left-field suspects. I actually doubt Byrnes will get a starting job, since they went into 2003 in a similar situation and Beane picked up Singleton.

The bullpen is the only question mark. It's too early to speculate on what Beane will or will not do, so I won't try to do so.

All in all, about the same team, a team which is still worse than Seattle (with Kaz Matsui presumably on board), Boston, and New York.

In other news, there was an ESPN poll about which team was least likely to make the playoffs, I think this was after Monday's game. The Red Sox got over 50% of the poll, but the weird part is that more people voted for the Yanks or Mariners instead of the A's. This is crazy! People are hypnotized by the A's second-half record, but this team is _clearly_ worse than all of the three teams in front of it, certainly a lot worse than the Yanks and Mariners, and even then we were three games back of both of those teams!

The A's seem perfectly content to sit back and suck. Fine, be that way.

Grr. We needed to score that inning. Or maybe we didn't. About to find out...

Yep. We needed insurance. At least Foulke doesn't walk people.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

It looks like you're not wrong so far. Mulder looks bad, he's walking people and giving up numerous fly balls, and we're down 3-2. Lowe doesn't look great, but I'm not real confident about our ability to get some runs. Meanwhile, Seattle is up 2-0, though the Yankees did lose.

In other news, the A's activated Jim Mecir today, designating Adam Piatt for assignment. This is a sad day for the organization. Piatt had a monster 1999 in the minors, winning the Triple Crown in the Texas League, and he looked like a great hitting prospect. In 2000, he hit pretty well at Sacramento, then had a fine callup in which he went .299/.392/.490 in 180 plate appearances.

Adam Piatt should have been a starting outfielder in 2001. Instead, he came down with a dreadful case of meningitis, which pretty much totally derailed his career. He was almost fully recovered by 2002, and was doing okay when after the Jeremy Giambi trade he was the starting left fielder for a while. Okay, his season line of .234/.303/.401 is hardly spectacular, but that was in the same PT as his 2000 experience. The guy was a top prospect and other than the illness there really hadn't been anything to dissuade that notion.

Adam Piatt got a raw deal from the A's, the exact opposite of Terrence Long. Piatt was blocked by Chavez at third, his natural position, so he moved to the outfield, where his fielding seemed fine to me. Yet the A's never really gave him a clean shot. (Question: If Macha plays the hot hand, and Eric Byrnes loses his starting job with 70 horrid plate appearances, how come Terrence Long still plays despite 1000 bad ones?)

And it didn't look like they were ever going to. Piatt is not young, he's 27 now. His prospect years have been wasted by an organization who didn't appreciate him and by a freak illness; it's a sad story. I can't imagine that some other organization isn't going to pick him up, and I wish him well. Piatt will be a good, solid, better than Terrence Long player for whoever picks him up. I expect him to do no worse than .340/.430, which is certainly a contributing player, and he could do a whole lot better.

Piatt has been and always will be one of my players, and I'm disappointed that I'm eulogizing him here.

4-2 Sox now. We're toast today.

Since I have a bad feeling about my guy tonight (I really hope I'm wrong!--maybe I'm just cowed by the 3-6 record on "Double Play Wednesdays" so far this year), time to go around the league a bit:

This week two teams have taken over the wild card position in ITSET standings ("if the season ended today"). The A's are one, of course; the other is Florida. Is Mike Lowell a leading candidate for NL MVM? "Most Valuable Mortal," that is, the award for player who helps his team most excluding either gods (like Barry Bonds) or demigods (like Albert Pujols). The big argument here, I suppose, would be who fits into the ineligible/immortal category. Based on the 2002 AL MVP voting, apparently some beat writers think A-Rod is ineligible even for the real thing. (Yeah, odd editorial position to see on an A's blog, huh?)

Speaking of A-Rod, apparently the best player in baseball likes the worst player in baseball! This is a really odd story; can you come up with better players than A-Rod or worse than Sanchez? In both cases what makes them superlative is their future major league playing time and performance potentials, since (e.g.) Bonds beats A-Rod in 2003, while a handful (barely a handful though) of worse players than Sanchez may be on ML rosters this week or more likely call-ups next month.

More admin stuff: I added some links, as recommended by Mike.

Just to be silly, if we had at least one more author we could achieve a pretty good mapping to the A's rotation, which I'd coyly represent in the "Author" links as something like #75-Mike Develin; #20-Matt Bruce; #15-Joon Pahk; and so on.

Apparently we need to save #40 for a young, up-and-coming commentator with reputably awesome prose, perhaps even a Canadian.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

The other thing most managers wouldn't have done is pitch to Manny with two out, second and third, and the tying run at second. Like the Red Sox fans who sat next to me, I was dead convinced that walking him was Oakland's best move; shows what I know.

A big sign of Hudson's effectiveness last night is just how much he kept the visiting fans out of the game. Tonight they were let back into the game, and at least in my section, I think they clearly won the noise battle. A wave of Red Sox fans sat right behind us, with angry A's fans a few rows in front. These wonderful old-lady A's fans were to my left for most of the game, but then when they left these two relatively quiet Sox fans, a man and a woman, inexplicably moved back a row (away from the belligerent home faithful?) and next to me. The guy struck up some game-related conversation.

Funny that Mike mentioned managing: I think I've played chess games a lot like tonight's game, though a manager-chessplayer metaphor wasn't what I had in mind. Rather, the early lead was a lot like, say, finding yourself up a clear pawn in a chess game against an otherwise evenly matched (or slightly better) opponent. You nurse the game home as best you can (or at least I do; maybe a less risk-averse player still focuses on mating attacks), always careful not to let it fizzle to a draw.

I never had any fear of the A's falling behind but the stranded baserunners seemed to give Boston plenty of "drawing chances," or tying-and-going-to-extra-innings chances for a baseball game. Tremendous job by the relief corp with inherited baserunners tonight.

Finally, did the Red Sox kill Terrence Long's dog when he was growing up? As mediocre (to be charitable) as he is against a dozen American League teams, he absolutely kills Boston, going back at least to the game that he singlehandedly won with the catch by the Fenway bullpen.

(Post-script: I think Trot was tossed by the time I even noticed an argument. For some reason I thought all the cheering was associated with the Albertsons "8 K's win you a free Pepsi" ad blurb on the little scoreboards.)

Well-managed game tonight. Specifically, bringing Keith Foulke in with runners on second and third, up by two in the eighth, was the right move, and it wasn't a move that many managers would have made. This, folks, is the Bill James theory of "closer" -- bringing your best guy in in the critical situations instead of saving him for the ninth. Foulke, of course, is the perfect guy for the job, since he's economical with his pitches and has better stamina than most closers.

Even if it was aided by a hothead plate umpire. Nixon getting tossed was a joke.

Do I even need to talk about today's game? I see Matt has beaten me to the punch, but I'm so elated I want to blather.

Matt and I had the privilege of watching Tim Hudson tonight. This was, without a doubt, the best pitching performance I have ever seen. Against the best lineup in the league and an all-time great on the others' side of the mound, Tim Hudson made zero mistakes. He allowed two hits, both infield singles, walked one, and allowed three balls to the outfield, only one of which was actually hit well, a Bill Mueller line drive which Terrence Long made a nice play on. (There was a warning track flyout, but this was not hit particularly well, just carried a bit.)

Even the groundballs were not well hit. Mueller's ball was the only hard-hit ball of the entire night. It wasn't just that people were hitting grounders at people; it was that people were hitting the ball into the ground, which is why none of the grounders got through. Slowly hit balls. Ellis made two nice plays to his left... and part of the reason he got to those balls is that they weren't hit hard. He threw 93 pitches, including 65 strikes. He had two three-ball counts the entire game (the walk to Nomar and a 3-0 to Kevin Millar in the eighth which he rebounded from to notch the strikeout.) He had six innings where he threw fewer than 10 pitches. He struck out seven, and got 15 ground-ball outs.

It was absolutely incredible regardless of setting, and to do it while facing Pedro, against the best lineup in baseball, and for an A's win which tied the wild card race instead of them being two back with a loss ... it's the second-best game I've been at, after the last game of the 2000 regular season, when Hudson pitched magnificently in a 2-0 win over Texas.

I mean, look at this lineup!

.270/.337/.423 (Johnny Damon)
.327/.402/.565 (Bill Mueller)
.324/.367/.575 (Nomar Garciaparra)
.313/.413/.559 (Manny Ramirez)
.285/.363/.560 (David Ortiz)
.286/.357/.501 (Kevin Millar)
.312/.398/.582 (Trot Nixon)
.274/.319/.404 (Todd Walker)
.292/.363/.563 (Jason Varitek)

As I commented to Matt, how come everyone in this lineup is slugging over .500? Hudson held this lineup to a nifty .074/.107/.074 tonight, and as I mentioned before, the hits were infield singles.

I was also really impressed with how the A's handled Pedro. The turning point of the game was Mark Ellis' at-bat with one out in the third, after the first seven hitters had all looked really silly against the best pitcher on the planet, as he will make you do. Ellis looked comfortable against Pedro -- I have no idea how, but he worked the count perfectly, correctly perceiving three balls, recognizing all the pitches, fouling them off, and then smacking a 3-2 pitch for a double. From there, the A's performed flawlessly. Chris Singleton smacked another double for a run. Hatteberg struck out, but those pitches were flat-out nasty. Jose Guillen swung at the first pitch, not a bad idea with a runner on second and two outs, and scored Singleton. Chavez struck out on some equally nasty pitches.

The fourth and fifth innings were a thing of beauty. The A's scored no runs ... and Pedro threw 56 pitches. In the fifth, the A's had great at-bats, not able to parlay a single and two walks into a run, but making Pedro throw 33 pitches to his six batters. The next inning, Casey Fossum came in, and Erubiel Durazo struck out on 11 pitches; to this point, Durazo had struck out three times, but taken 24 pitches from the opponents' reserves in the process. Fossum, clearly tired, hit Ramon Hernandez on a 2-2 pitch, and the much-maligned Terrence Long hit a homer on the sixth pitch of his at-bat. Fossum threw 35 pitches.

There was no more damage, but those innings, the third through sixth, were vintage A's baseball, not swinging at some really tough pitches early in the count. It was a great approach.

What's there to say? It was a nearly flawless game, Eric Chavez's muffed pickup on what was generously scored an infield single for Nomar in the seventh notwithstanding. Tomorrow it's back to work with Zito against Burkett. Could go either way. Zito will give up a bomb somewhere. The questions are: How many people will he have walked when the bomb comes? And how will the A's do against Burkett? Burkett is the kind of pitcher they could handle easily, so I'm optimistic on that count. We shall see.

Monday, August 11, 2003

More Casey Fossum, Please!
In Tim Young's assessment of this series from a Red Sox perspective, he suggested starting Casey Fossum over Tim Wakefield.

Coming straight off my impressions of him tonight (in a 30-pitch, two-run inning, most of his pitches were either lined foul into the stands or not close to the strike zone), at first this seemed poor. On the other hand starting him would certainly beat the context in which he had to pitch tonight:

How do you follow Pedro Martinez? Pedro is so good--with the velocity, location, movement, lack of mistakes, everything--that batters who've had to gear up to facing Pedro will suddenly (I think) find any relief pitcher a piece of cake by comparison.

I suppose you could create a Jamie Moyer type relief pitcher (or, righthanded, a Doug Jones?) and use the big drop in speed to cross up hitters. This doesn't seem like it would work nearly as well as, say, starting a knuckleballer like Wakefield and then bringing in 98 mph gas from the pen.

Meanwhile, some mild navel gazing: Reading Tim's Sox thoughts reminds me that I was once on that coast; more to the point I was frequently in that ballpark and in that camp.

In 1999, had you asked me who my favorite team was... well actually it would have been Texas. Boston never surpassed the Rangers. The A's actually did; I became aware of this around the first Aaron Harang trade and the first Carlos Pena trade.

I feel like such a mercenary sometimes, though. Then again, people move around the country. Given Tulsa's lack of proximity to a major league team, I want to claim that I didn't even get a chance to form a lifelong bond with a team. This isn't quite true: certain really good Tulsa Drillers (Double-A) did become really good Texas Rangers. Then again many of those were traded (Sosa, Nen) or left as free agents (Kevin Brown) and in any case became big stars on other teams. And the Drillers themselves were dumped by the Rangers' system when someone decided to relocate a Texas League team to Frisco, TX. The Colorado Rockies stepped in.

Should I feel a special rooting interest in Chin-Hui Tsao? Apparently he is/was by far the 2003 Drillers' best prospect. What's the statute of limitations on this though? (I haven't been anywhere near Tulsa since 1996.)

Ha! I can steal Mike's thunder: On the way out of tonight's game, he described it as the best pitching performance he'd ever seen in person and second-best game he'd ever seen.

Intuitively, I'd thought I'd seen pitching performances that were as good or better, but the more I think about it the harder it would be to match, much less top, what Hudson did tonight. The key numbers are 93 pitches and 28 batters faced (one above the minimum). I can't remember ever seeing a pitcher face the minimum, though I've seen at least one one-hitter in my life, and also seen some Pedro Martinez games where his strikeout total (and the nature of the strikeouts) made his performance seem more dominating.

This was an incredible game. It doesn't make my top five and probably doesn't make my top ten, but that says a lot more about how incredibly fortunate I've been in games seen than it does about tonight's game itself. The top of my list is dominated by The Streak and by October playoff games; if I felt really pedantic tonight I'd post more on this over on my personal weblog, though I probably won't do so after all.

Meanwhile, as I was telling Mike on the way across the bridge: Zito will allow four runs tomorrow, on five hits, including a three-run homer. The A's will score between 0 and 11 runs, where the amount of run support Zito gets will affect our impressions of his performance way more than it ought to.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

I'm not too upset about today's loss. Esteban Loaiza always totally baffled us even before he was _Esteban Loaiza?!?_, and Harden was going to lose sometime, and it's great that he did it in a way (8 K, 1 BB) that doesn't really bode ill for his future.

It must be rather trying to be a Red Sox fan at the moment, having lost three of four to Baltimore, failing to gain ground on the Yanks and M's, who played each other, and failing to gain separation on the A's, who were playing two out of three. So we go into the pivotal four-game series with Boston one game behind them and four behind both Seattle and New York (who it seems less and less plausible that we will catch every day.) Projected starters, I believe:

Monday: Hudson vs. Pedro
Tuesday: Zito vs. Burkett
Wednesday: Mulder vs. Lowe
Thursday: Lilly vs. Wakefield

Not pitching are Rich Harden and Jeff Suppan. So, obviously, looking at this, you would expect the A's to win Tuesday, the Sox to win Thursday (esp since the A's have trouble hitting knuckleballers), and advantage A's on Wednesday and Sox on Monday. If we can pull out the Monday game, which I'm really stoked to be going to, that would be clutch. I'd be perfectly happy with 2-2 in this set in the abstract, although I'll be very disappointed with any loss.

Wonder what the lineup is going to look like tomorrow. I mean, no one can hit Pedro, so I have no particular opinions.

Random Greg Papa thought:
Most of the blog authors know Papa does play-by-play (with Ray Fosse) for A's TV games. Meanwhile, other people probably know him better for his work on Raiders radio and his distinctive touchdown call.

Do you think he's ever been tempted to call out a "HOME RUN, DurrrrrrrrrAHHzo!"

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