May The Best Ace Win

Frustration over a disappointing season, frustration over an anticlimactic trade deadline, was tempered by an A’s victory that had the full spectrum of everything that has made the A’s exasperating and encouraging in 2007.

The game that started with a routine fly ball that wasn’t caught finished with a base hit taken away by Travis Buck’s patented game-ending diving catch. The game that began with the A’s refusing to advance runners once they reached scoring position ended with a machine-gun like barrage of key hits to plate key runs. And when it was all said and done, Danny Haren was a 13-game winner and the A’s were 50-game winners, and we’ll take what we can get when we can get it!

I’m encouraged that every time Travis Buck takes the field I see a remarkably polished hitter and I see a guy who seems to make the team just feel more alive when he’s out there. And I’m discouraged that we have an organizational philosophy that would allow our #3 and #4 hitters to watch strike three to kill a promising inning. I’m encouraged that Donnie Murphy and Kurt Suzuki continue to have a lot of solid at-bats. And I’m discouraged that guys like Eric Chavez and Rich Harden can’t figure out a way to get out on the field and give the young guys some protection and leadership.

A final thought on tonight’s game: When the A’s rallied to tie the game, take the lead, and put the game away, they did it with hits, they did it by going first to third, they did it with productive outs, they did it by looking for pitches to hit, not pitches to take. They didn’t resort to relying on walks or saying things like “well, we’ve only scored one run in five innings, but we’ve made him throw 95 pitches.” A “batter” is anyone with a bat. A “hitter” is a guy who can get hits. The A’s need to start moving guys around the bases two at a time, and walks don’t do that. The last 3 innings were actually fun because it looked like good baseball. And for a change lately, it was my team playing it.

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