Things looked good early -- bright sunshine, wind blowing out to left, Carmona throwing straight and predictable pitches, Braden working with Kendall to mix his pitches well, the daily Cust HR -- but perhaps that Swisher first-inning baserunning blunder was an omen that the A's just weren't going to be terribly sharp today.
Braden eventually looked like he usually does (like a replacement-level fill-in fifth starter), and the offense reverted to the form of a couple of weeks ago, banging out hits and runs in the first and then not adjusting to the opposing starter's adjustments.
What's worse, the fielding looked shaky today -- two bad throws (at least one of which should have been caught) and a passed ball by Kendall, and a couple of short-arm throws to first (at least one of which should have been caught) by Chavez.
Looking back at the opening game thread, it seems as though Fausto Carmona is making the sorts of adjustments in pitch selection and location that it takes to be a major-league starter; Dallas Braden (and, by implication, Jason Kendall?) is not.
Which certainly isn't to say that Braden doesn't have what it takes to stick in the bigs or to contribute to the A's relentless '07 march toward 87 wins. Even without "Pronk" Hafner in the lineup, the Indians are a quality offense, and Braden kept them mostly off-balance. But, to borrow Nico's apt precis of Zito, Braden threw a lot of good pitches.
Side notes: the consensus among the AN'ers sitting in 228 was that Chavez simply doesn't look sharp (throwing or at bat; though his glove and footwork still sparkle), and that his forearms and/or shoulder may be more chronically debilitated than he or the front office will admit. On the positive side, it was good to see Witasick and Street throwing well, and Geren deserves serious props not only for batting Kendall ninth again, but for PH'ing for Kendall in the ... seventh inning!
(And I'll have the "Billy, Injury and the Jack of Custs Poetic Interlude finished and posted in a separate diary later this evening.)