If you were only following tonight's game by listening to the radio, you'd have gotten the impression that the A's totally dominated the Mariners on their way to a solid 5-1 win. Ken and Vince were exulting over the A's aggressive, "doing the little things right" smallball play and the way that Dana Eveland, Huston Street, and Joey Devine were mowing down Mariner batters.
The reality of the game, however (despite the joy in the ultimate outcome), was something significantly less impressive.
Yes, Eveland and Street both appeared to have corrected their previous flaws (Eveland, in attacking the zone; and Street, in nailing his arm slot and getting on top of his pitches) and Devine seems to have come back from his DL stint and is getting more and more solid. And the A's did manage to scrape together 5 runs for the second night in a row.
But credit where credit is due: Washburn pitched like the sub-replacement-level starter he's become, the Mariners hitters were swinging early and often against Eveland's junk, and the Mariners fielders (with the exception of Ichiro) had a serious case of the la-di-da's. This was a matchup of two not-good teams, and the Mariners simply underplayed the A's.
What's more, the A's got pretty lucky. Of the 11+ balls hit in the air by the Mariners, virtually every single one was hit on the screws. Thanks to Safeco's dimensions, the cool and damp Seattle air, and the fleet feet of Rajai Davis, the Mariners only came up with 5 hits. And while the A's tallied 11 hits, most of them were bloops or bleeders (including Crosby's RBI "single" when Jim Riggleman played the infield in and Jose Lopez casualled his way to the grounder). Rajai layed down a couple of quasi-competent bunts that should have been turned into more outs than the Mariners made of them. Daric Barton did crush a Washburn hanger for a 2-run HR in the 4th, Crosby ran into couple pitches that weren't far enough off the plate, and Eric Patterson slashed a couple balls, but that was it. Everything else was a matter of poor fielding/positioning by the Mariners or normal lucky hops and placement.
Speaking of Patterson, this was the first chance that I've seen to see him play a full game. Aside from a Hannahanesque lack of power and some more Saxy throws, he looked pretty decent: he's fast enough that his slashing approach at the plate could work, he's got very good range and reactions at second, and his footwork and deliberation in throwing are very solid.
This is the sort of win that leads some people to wish that the A's would play more slap-and-tickle at the plate, and think that simple weak contact somehow improves one's chances at winning over the course of a full season. It just ain't so -- the A's got lucky tonight, and the Mariners fielded like crap. And no, the Mariners were not somehow spooked into dropping balls because of the fearsome speed of Rajai and Not-Corey; they've been fielding that way all year, and have apparently been getting worse of late.
Anyhow, a win's a win, and it's good to see Eveland and Huston and Devine throwing better.