The A's rode Greg Smith's second career complete game to victory tonight, 6-1. They received some timely hits off of Jon Garland to support Smith's stellar effort. Smith was fantastic tonight, working in a curve ball more often than I have seen him do in his young career. Perhaps that was something that Curt Young and company scouted ahead about the Angels and their weak offense. Whatever it was, the A's largely worked the outside corner for most of the night against the Angels.
The A's got most of their offense tonight from their young guns. The same guys I talked about in my grading post earlier today who have largely struggled. Daric Barton had two hits, a run and an RBI. Ryan Sweeney had two hits, a run and an RBI. Kurt Suzuki had two hits and scored a run. Carlos Gonzalez had three hits and scored a run. But probably the biggest blow of the night came from Eric Chavez, who got a huge two-run hit past a diving Casey Kotchman to give Greg Smith the chance to go the complete game because his hit made it 4-1 instead of 2-1. You just had to figure that Smith would've been coming out of the game at the first sign of trouble if the A's didn't have breathing room.
You have to realize that if the A's are going to remain in the race for the AL West title, they're going to need consistent contributions from their young guns. So tonight was definitely a good start to the second half for those guys. It's especially good to see Daric Barton come through tonight. He's looked pretty lost at the plate lately, so seeing him have a little more success tonight is probably a weight lifted off his very young shoulders.
What was fascinating about watching this game tonight is that the Angels offense is sputtering worse than the A's offense right now. Outside of the normally hacktastic Erick Aybar, the lineup didn't show much patience against Smith who has often had control issues lately. Aybar got the only two walks of the game for the Angels. Still, Smith did what he does best when he is on, working the corners perfectly and inducing lots of flyballs off the end of the bat or off the fists. Through the first six innings, Angels hitters had seven flyouts to Ryan Sweeney when he was playing right field. Smith's only mistake of the night was a bomb from the bat of Mike Napoli.
All in all, this is a great win and sets the A's up for the rest of this series. Even though the A's have Harden going tomorrow, the Angels are putting A's killer Ervin Santana out on the hill, so you have to figure the A's will struggle to score runs. Santana just owns our A's. But it's most definitely a nice way to start out the second half of the season. I always seem to have a bit more bounce in my step and birds sing beautifully whenever the A's beat the Angels. So I'll cherish this for the next 21 hours or so.
Thank you, Greg Smith.