First things first. Coming off a nightmarish 11 ER debacle Monday night, Gio Gonzalez rebounded with 6.2 sterling innings under the toughest of circumstances: Facing the Yankees' lineup in the launching pad known as Yankee stadium. Not until Melky Cabrera beat out a bunt single with two out in the 5th did the Yankees even get a hit, and that was one of just two hits Gio surrendered along with three walks. Even when Brett Gardner's one-out triple in the 6th drove in a run, giving the Yankees a short-lived 1-0 lead, Gio bore down big-time, retiring Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez on ground balls with Gardner frozen at third.
Enter the A's offense, jumping to life like Poochini to a pig's ear, erupting unannounced for 6 runs in the top of the 7th against Andy Pettitte and an unusually ineffective Alfredo Acevas. Highlighting the explosion: A perfect bunt single laid down by Bobby Crosby to load the bases, followed soon after by a clutch two-run single by Landon Powell on an 0-2 pitch. When Orlando Cabrera brought home the final two in the inning with a double, giving the A's a 6-1 lead, it seemed like gravy. It would turn out to be the difference.
You see, Michael Wuertz wants to stay with the A's, so after being so good all season that teams are calling about him before the trading deadline, Wuertz tempered the enthusiasm by giving up a pair of HRs -- a two run shot by Jeter and a solo blast by Teixeira -- making it 6-4.
So when Andrew Bailey walked the first two batters in the 9th and Jorge Posada came up representing the tying run, it looked like we might have a dramatic Yankee comeback win and that I might be pushed over the edge, driven to torture innocent kittens out of frustration. Good news for everyone: Posada bounced into a 4-6-3 DP, Jeter flied to center, and kittens everywhere could rejoice.
If Gio turns out to be a good major league pitcher, it won't be farthest a pitcher has hit "rock bottom" before bouncing back to have a good career. But at least as single failures go, it's up there so props to Gonzalez for his resilience and let's hope this is step one to more consistent success ahead.
Landon Powell now has 18 RBIs in a season where he has 17 starts. It would be great for the A's, who are lacking power, slugging, and hitting in general, to get Powell's bat in the lineup more consistently the rest of this season and in 2010. Unfortunately, due to Powell's physical limitations the only way the A's could get him in more often is at DH, which would come at the expense of Cust. It's a shame, because I'd really like to see Powell get more ABs.
Finally, I know he struggled today but Wuertz is a very good reliever and as fungible as relievers are supposed to be, I don't think true bullpen depth is that easy to develop. I'd like to see Wuertz, who comes cheap and is under contract control through 2011, stay with Oakland unless a team calls with the offer of a piece the A's truly need -- and that would be a SS to get excited about, a possible starting CFer, or a power hitting righty, none of whom is likely to be offered for Wuertz. Good relievers should not be overrated, but neither should they be underrated.
Good job, Gio.