Macha was right: A's 12, Rangers 6

OK, I'll admit it: I'm emotionally and financially invested in Rich Harden not succeeding. (For those of you who missed it, mikeA and I made a wager last year that Harden wouldn't reach 10 more starts + saves for the A's. As of today, mikeA's only 5 starts/saves away from winning.)

But he just really didn't look good at all today. Yes, his fastball was lively, and he could increase or decrease speeds on it and his changeup very effectively.

But, as I mentioned during the game, Harden was pitching straight up-and-down, not flexing his back or legs, and generating all his power from his waist-up. Consequently, he couldn't locate any pitches below batters' waists, and eventually struggled with his overall control and got hit hard when he had to lower his target to hit the zone.

It looked to me as if Harden was struggling through some stiffness in his hamstrings or his back (and genuinely his back, not the "back" muscle pull as the A's tried to convince us regarding his latest arm/shoulder problems). Now, that could, ironically, be not a bad omen for his next start--if he was just not warmed up properly, and avoided straining his arm, he could bounce back nicely in his next start or two.

Sidney Ponson, after a really awful first inning, tossed a Blantonesque struggling-effectively-through-lousy-stuff performance at the A's. It was only when the A's got into the Rangers lousy (and, ironically, given their recent string of shutouts) and overextended bullpen that the offense really piled on. It was very good to see Cust continue his solid stroke and exasperating patience, Frank and Lil' Sweeney make some solid contact, and Barton finally go yard again. The indifferent offensive performances in Arlington the last couple days had been pretty dispiriting.

And I know I've been down on Crosby, but he really was the Panther excellent-fundamentals-and-focus-leading-to-good-outcomes-player of the game today: he had some nice-looking ABs, some really hard-hit pitches, the heads-up steal of home when Ellis got himself hung out to dry, and the tagout of Saltalamacchia on Salty's steal attempt. That latter play was pretty sweet: yes, Salty overslid by just a bit, but Crosby stayed right on the play, and basically shoved Salty's hand off the bag to tag him out.

As Nico noted, Embree was the right decision in the 7th and 8th by Geren, and rewarded the manager's confidence by shutting down the Rangers when a run or two could have really gotten Texas back into the game.

This was a really nice win for the offense, the 'pen, and the team as a whole to regain some confidence in the middle of a touch road trip.

As for Harden ... who knows. Ken and Vince were talking in the late innings about how tomorrow and his next start are really the only way to judge Harden's start today; while I think that's true to a degree, I think we can also pretty definitively say that Harden didn't exactly look "right" today--but he didn't really play a role in the team's success or failure. And that's essentially what we should expect from him.

"Breaking" news reported by Buan just now: Buan will be breaking some news about Ellis and Chavez.
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