Hear ye! Hear ye! Today marketh the final home game of the A's 2008 season, so if you're up anywhere near the Bay today make an honest effort to swing by the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum at some point. Even if you've become estranged from the current sub-.500 A's ballclub there will still be plenty of reminders on display of more successful/exciting times of the organization's past, as the team looks to put an exlamanation point on it's season-long celebration of it's 40th year anniversary of residence in the East Bay. The team will be officially commemorating it's "All-40 year team" on the field before first pitch. Rickey Henderson, Dave Stewart, Terry Steinbach, Joe Rudi and Bert Campenaris will be in attendance for the event, so if you're longing to see an Oakland Athletic that will be looked on favorably in the history books for setting all-time records that don't revolve around single-season strikeout totals, then check out Rickey throwing out today's first pitch.
The start time for today's game will be delayed until 1:15 for all of the festivities, but once the game begins, it should prove to be an intriguing matchup. The A's, who have finally been playing consistently acceptable baseball, now find themselves only 1.5 games back of the Rangers for 2nd place in the division (1 game back in the loss column). With a 4-game set in Arlington beginning tomorrow, an Oakland win today combined with a Texas loss would bring the two teams into a virtual tie and would add a little spice to the final roadtrip of the season. Regardless, with a win today, the A's will sweep this pathetic posse from the Pacific Northwest and roll into the Arlington bandbox with some major momentum.
Today's pitching matchup features two young, hard-throwing right-handers with command problems. The A's send Sean Gallagher to the mound, fresh off his winning 7-inning, 1 run, 6 strikeout performance against the Angels last week. One of the more pleasant developments of late with this young team has been the re-emergence of both Gallagher and Eveland. In a year where so many young starters have struggled for long stretches of time, it inspires confidence in both the pitchers themselves and the coaching and medical staffs when Eveland can go down to the minors, re-work his mechanics and return to the majors showing vast improvement just over a two-week timeframe, while Gallagher can rest a tired arm on the DL for a few weeks, come back with his velocity back up into the mid-90s and within two starts off the list, begin to resemble the pitcher the team traded away an ace for. Sean will be making his first career start against the Mariners today.
Opposing Gallagher will be Cal-Berkeley alum and North Bay native Brandon Morrow. The 6th overall selection in the 2006 draft, Morrow zipped through the minors, spending only the tail end of 2006 in the low minors before making his major league debut as a reliever last season for the M's. Brandon can hit the upper 90's with his heater consistently, but he has had major command issues his entire career, dating back to college. He's very tough to hit, doesn't give up a lot of homers and racks up the K's, so it should be an interesting day for A's hitters. Patience will be key. It would be nice to see a cleanly-played, well-pitched, well-officiated game where the A's squeak by in the bottom of the 9th after exhausting their entire 40-man roster a la yesterday.
Whatever happens, I'm just hoping that the home fans can show this team some major love in their final appearance in Oakland. It's been a strange, rollercoaster of a year so far, but these young guys have some major talent and with several late-inning and walk-off victories already to their credit, it should be clear that while the "W's" haven't been easy to get at some points this season, this team has never given up. That fact, more than anything else, is the main reason why, win or lose this game, this team should walk off the field today feeling the full-fledged support of both the A's fans in-house applauding them as well as the greater Athletics Nation that has followed them throughout the year. They deserve it.
09/21/08 1:05 PM PDT
|Seattle Mariners||Oakland Athletics|
|Ichiro Suzuki - RF||Travis Buck - LF|
|Tug Hulett - SS||Carlos Gonzalez - CF|
|Raul Ibanez - LF||Ryan Sweeney - RF|
|Jose Lopez - 1B||Jack Cust - DH|
|Jeremy Reed - CF||Kurt Suzuki - C|
|Miguel Cairo - 3B||Cliff Pennington - 2B|
|Bryan LaHair - DH||Bobby Crosby - SS|
|Kenji Johjima - C||Daric Barton - 1B|
|Luis Valbuena - 2B||Jeff Baisley - 3B|