Note to A's pitchers: don't put ANYBODY on base before Justin Morneau comes to bat.
Morneau struck early and often against another A's starter ( this one being Greg Smith) as he provided an RBI single in the top of the 1st after a double by Nick Punto. He would then put the game out of reach with a 3-run shot to right field off of Smith after another Punto hit and a walk to Joe Mauer. After that point, with the A's trailing 6-1 in the top of the 6th, Smith lost his composure and the A's effectively lost the game. Foulke, in his first action back off the DL, came in and hemorrhaged a few more runs, so that by the time the A's wound up stringing some hits and walks together to put a dent in the lead (the bottom of the 8th) it was way too little too late.
Early in the game, after the blip to Morneau and a belt-high BP fastball to Alexi Casilla in the 2nd that left the yard for a 2-run homer, Smith seemed to have settled. He was consistently finding the strike zone, wasn't walking anybody and had a few K's for the effort. He cruised through the 3rd, 4th and 5th, but just couldn't keep the focus going into the 6th. That loss of a focus was a killer, but I'm just gonna take the positive away from Smith's outing: he actually struck-out more batters than he walked (4 to 3) and managed to work into the 6th. Ehh, not much, but what can you do?
A few hours after I raved about how solid the A's defense has been the last few series, a few likely culprits spoiled the party this afternoon. Barton pulled a Buckner and let a grounder roll right through his legs while the bags were loaded with Twinkies in allowing two more runs to score in the 8th, while Pennington's bobbled ball and errant throw tacked on an unearned run to Ziggy's sloppy 9th inning "getting the work in" appearance.
And now, a few hours after my call for this team to seize the momentum for a new month and a new era in this team's development, they just reverted back to the ugliness that has permeated "100% Baseball" since mid-July. At least the month of August is mercifully over and...
Aaron Cunningham (2 for 4 with a double, single and 2 RBIs) is up with the team to stay and giving us something to cheer for! After a rough first two at-bats (striking out twice on a total of 8 pitches) the young Tom Sawyer-lookalike came alive and topped off his debut night with a well-struck ground rule double to right-center and a two-RBI, line drive single to center in the A's first significant rally of the game in the game on the 8th. Congrats Cunningham...we've needed you for awhile now!