Today's Oakland Athletics victory might mark the first time in weeks that the A's marketing department looks out on the field and says, "Now, that's what we meant when we launched this '100% Baseball' campaign!" From the outset of this game, the A's seemed focused and poised, professional if you will, and put together a full, well-played game that resulted in a nice victory against a team that has had the A's number for most of this season.
The team's effort began with an outstanding start by rookie lefty Josh Outman. The Out-man threw strikes early and often (are you taking notes, Smith and Gio?) and challenged the Ranger lineup with a fastball that sat at 93-94 and touched 95 at times. Besides a hiccup in the 2nd when he gave up 1 run on a couple of hits and a walk, Outman's "hit this if you can" strategy worked brilliantly. He couldn't go any deeper in the game than the 5th as he was on a strict 75 pitch limit, but he did more than enough to earn the win (which he was awarded) by allowing only that one run on 4 hits, 2 walks and 3 strikeouts. The effort will certainly secure Josh another start or two this season and possible consideration for a rotation spot next season. As Nico stated in the Game Thread, it would certainly be nice to slot Outman into the rotation for the foreseeable future as he's got the blazing fastball that Braden, Smith, Gio and Eveland don't, and thus has a much larger margin for error than those guys. I like that line-of-thinking, but that means that at least one or two current starters would have to be traded/demoted. Perhaps a Duke trade and/or a Gio demotion?
The A's offense combined contributions from old hands (Crosby - 2 for 4, with a double and 3 RBIs) and rookies (Cunningham - 2 for 4, with 2 RBIs) to put up 7 runs in two seperate campaigns in the 4th and 5th innings. All down the lineup card, everyone did their job. Cust had a typically Custian day with a walk, a strikeout and yes, another homer (that's 29 on the season) to open the scoring after Ryan Sweeney doubled in the 4th. Rajai Davis had a single and yes another stolen base during the 5th inning rally. It's just a remarkalbe, beautiful thing when you can look back at a game and say, for once, that pretty much every player stayed within themselves, played to their strengths and let the synergy of their efforts carry them to victory.
The team also played solid defense in support of Outman, and Street, Blevins, Devine and Ziggy who followed the rookie with 4 innings of scoreless relief. Pennington, as the cutoff man, gunned down Hank Blalock as he attempted to score off a 2nd inning Nelson Cruz double, while Barton snagged a sharp liner and doubled off Gerald Laird at 2nd base after he ledoff the 3rd with a double, thereby extinguishing a Ranger rally.
Everything clicked today and they actually looked like a team on the rise. Time will tell if that is the case, but it was a good day. The A's even announced that they had raised an impressive $100,000+ for breast cancer research before the game at their annual charity function. The only downside of the day was not none of it was televised, but if given the choice between a good day for charity and a radio-only good day for the A's on the field or a televised A's loss, I'll take the former every time.
In other news, Dallas Braden strained his groin on Thursday more severely than he initially thought and will miss his next start. The rotation will most likely stay on turn though as the A's have an off-day on Monday and can push everyone back one day. So even the injury news today comes with a silver lining! Hallelujah!