The A's win the game tonight, 2-1, with Greg Smith picking up the win and the former Royals Mike Sweeney and Emil Brown enjoying playing against their former rivals in the Southsiders. Kurt Suzuki had a career high four hits. The Sox made it interesting in the ninth, but a key foul tip catch on a strike out by Suzuki followed by a weak ground out to Huston Street by Joe Crede, ended the game.
Yes, Greg Smith was pretty beautiful tonight. Seven innings pitched, six hits and only one earned run. He did it with all kinds of tricks. Everything from a deadly change up away to a nasty pickoff move that bordered on a balk twice, once on former Athletic Nick Swisher and one on the other former Athletic Jermaine Dye. Smith was remarkably impressive particularly in the second inning when Buck wound up losing a ball out of his glove that he probably should've caught (granted it was a tough diving catch, but he almost dove too far) and Barton committed a brutal error on a Quentin ball dribbling up the first base line. He was also nasty in the bottom of the fourth when he struck out Thome, Konerko and got Dye to pop up. Smith very much reminds me of Jamie Moyer because he lives on the outer half of the plate and relies on fastball, change and a nice cutter. Course he throws a bit harder than Moyer ever dreamed of throwing.
Nick Swisher was pumped to face his former team as he was on base three out of four times, scored a run and nearly tied the game with a shot that almost got out but was flagged down by Chris Denorfia.
But Mike Sweeney obviously liked coming back to Chicago and facing his former AL Central rivals as he scored both runs for the A's. You can't say enough about Suzuki this game though. His pitch calling was stellar, he had four hits and made a HUGE play by catching a ball that Carlos Quentin tipped for the strikeout with two men on and one out in the ninth. Suzuki was brilliant and for all the pub that Barton and Buck have gotten going into the season, Suzuki has been the true stellar youngster out of the gate for this young squad.
I did want to say that I didn't really understand the A's continuing to try and bunt in the top of the ninth inning with Jack Hannahan even with two strikes. I understood the thinking prior to him going down 1-2, but once he was down 1-2 and judging from how poor he looked trying to even make contact for a bunt, you have to pull the sign off at that junction. You probably would've had the same result as the strikeout that happened, but I just think that a manager has to pay attention to how the batter looks trying to bunt. Especially once it gets to two strikes.
Travis Buck once again looked lost again at the plate, but that could be that he was just facing a tough lefty in Buerhle. I liked Double Bonanza Buck better than the Clueless Buck we saw tonight.
One of the interesting things about living outside of the A's media market is that I now get the other teams announcers waaaaaaay too often. And without a doubt, Hawk Harrelson is the king of all idiots when it comes to play-by-play. He was yelling, "Get up, get up" when Swisher hit his ball to the wall off Santiago Casilla. He constantly refers to his team as "us" and "we". Yo, douche lord, you aren't on the field. It's like Rex Hudler who sits in the broadcast booth holding a baseball during his work. I'm just glad I didn't have to hear his moronic "You can put it on the board" home run call tonight. Thank you, A's pitching for that.
I still can't believe how well this young team is pitching and these aren't even supposed to be the "stars" the A's got in the trades. That falls more to Gio Gonzalez and Brett Anderson. Yet, here they go and here we are. I'm going to get in that spaceship and ride while it lasts (thank you, Englishmajor).