Is anything going to be easy for this club this season? I mean, the real Rich Harden finally stood up and pitched 7 dominant innings, allowing only 1 run on four hits, while striking out 8 and only walking 1. The A's bats finally woke up (well at least two of them did) as Cust launched a monster solo shot to dead center in the bottom of the 1st while Bad Getting-Better-Everyday Sweeney followed Daric Barton's walk and Kurt Suzuki's fielder's choice with a 3-run shot that hit off of the foul poul in right for his first A's homerun. Daric Barton (who got on base all 4 times he came to bat tonight ) added an insurance run in the 3rd as he got an RBI the typically-Athletic way - walking with the bases loaded. Huddy was wobbly early and often issuing 5 walks in 5 innings and even Harden got into the act offensively with a spiffy single and a well-placed sacrifice bunt late in the game. Foulke came on and cruised through the bottom of the 8th with two K's, and everything was looking "peachy" (or is it "peachtree" in this part of the country?) for the Green and Gold...
But, and it's a big but, even with all of those things going their way early in the game, one guy had to come on in the bottom of the 9th and make this game a lot more interesting than it ever should have been. That man's name, not surprisingly, is Huston Street, who just looks off this season in many ways. With a 5-1 lead, Street gave up a double to Teixeira to lead off the 9th, then a sharp single to Brian McCann, then an RBI groundout to swing-at-anything Franceour, then a well-struck RBI triple to Kelly Johnson, and a well-struck sacrifice fly to dead center off the bat of Gregor Blanco before finally settling down and striking out Greg Norton on his nicest pitch of the night, a changeup just off the plate. You can say that Huston made the pitches when he had to, but you can also say that a 4.91 ERA and four ringing hits in the bottom of the 9th are not something your closer should be sporting more than a month into the season. Something is clearly wrong with Huston...anybody have any ideas what it might be, besides injury?
But on to the good news: the alchemy of dominant pitching and a few timely hits mixed well for 8 innings for this team...the first time that has happened in what seems like weeks. And finally, the A's were able to take advantage of an Angel loss as the Halos dropped the 2nd game of the Freeway Series 6-3 to the Dodgers. The 1-2 punch pulls the A's within a half-game of the Halos, which is just a remarkable feat after an almost week-long stinkorama.
A multi-homer game is something for the hitters to build on heading into tomorrow's series tie-breaker and a vintage-Harden, dominant, 7-inning performance has to be uplifting for the pitching staff and the organization in general. So, while it wasn't easy, it wasn't pretty and there were a few things that are downright concerning to take away from this game, power, the great equalizer, finally came through and saved the day for this squad. Let's just hope that the team hits a few more bombs tomorrow and puts those haunting visions of the Tomahawk Chop in the bottom of the 9th out of our collective memories.