There is no way the Oakland Athletics--based on everything we've seen in the last few months--should have won today's game The A's were down early, and it appeared they were out of it before the first Tigers' out was even recorded. I looked back over my notes at the noticeable difference between my feelings in the first inning, and the last, but despite my absolute euphoria at the win today, I'm going to include the first part anyway.
Regardless of where you stand on the good manager/bad manager debate, one would be hard-pressed to deny that ours has made at least a couple of decisions during his years at Oakland that seem almost indefensible. And what's worse, these particular decisions are not made during the heat of the game, where emotions rule and only a fraction of time is given to consider all the options, but rather are made with forethought and advanced planning.
As many have pointed out, starting a mentally-or-physically-hurt Mark Mulder for game 160 of the 2004 season falls into this category; so does stubbornly batting Bobby Crosby third when it was clear to even marginal baseball fans that he was not the superstar management was hoping he would magically turn into, but today's batting lineup takes the cake.
Here's Macha's quote in the Chron today:
Asked if he believed the injury is still affecting the third baseman, A's manager Ken Macha said, "Eric Chavez has played for me for three years and he's never swung like this before.''
Macha called a statistic shown on the scoreboard Friday night "frightening.'' The gist: Chavez has driven in just one run in the past 19 games. In addition, he is batting .132 with 33 strikeouts in his past 27 games dating to June 8. He has only one homer since June 16.
"If we're going to succeed, we have to have in him the lineup swinging well,'' Macha said.
Let me get this straight. After acknowledging the aforementioned problem in the paper today, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce your CLEANUP HITTER in today's game, batting between the blazing-hot Milton Bradley and the A's RBI machine Frank Thomas. And even with today's double...the point still stands.
- This was a freakin' HUGE WIN. No, not because it solves anything long-term regarding the A's offense, or health, or standings, but we won on a day when every pitcher out of the gates until Duke was shaky, we were down big to a really fantastic team, and we, per usual, were playing less-than-healthy.
- I thought Macha made all the right moves with the pitching staff today. I'm completely okay with Street pitching the 9th. We needed the win, even if he didn't get the save.
- This game was closer than it looks from the box score; yet, when it was all said and done, after the initial five-run first, the A's scored 9 unanswered runs, making Blanton the only pitcher who allowed runs today.
- Jason Kendall was the absolute perfect leadoff hitter today.
- I bet Polanco wants to play the A's EVERY SINGLE GAME. Street was the only pitcher to retire him today.
- The A's defense cannot be praised enough, especially compared to the Los Angeles Circus down in Anaheim.
- Scutaro's error = bad. Scutaro's homerun = FANTASTIC. Let's hope it carries over. Bobby Crosby is not expected back until Monday at least.
- I continue to be in love with Milton Bradley, and I'm sure the clubhouse was really upset with his homerun today.
Savor this victory. Chalk it up to a make-up win for Joe Blanton, a much-needed break from the negativity, and let's hope it's a sign of more good things to come.
Early game tomorrow morning for the rubber game of the series. Stay tuned...