A's vs. Cubs
Dallas Braden started today's game, and in case you missed the announcement, he can no longer feel two of his toes. This loss is permanent. Braden's (and the A's) biggest concern is that his motion will be affected by this loss, thus affecting his arm. It is common to overcompensate for a loss and end up with a corresponding injury. On the bright side, at least Braden knows exactly what he is dealing with, and can move on from here.
Braden pitched six full innings; allowing five hits, two runs, two walks and one homerun. He didn't strike anyone out. Ziggy bounced back from last night's tough appearance; pitching a near-perfect inning (he hit a batter, but also got a lefty out). Kilby, who has been fighting for a spot in the bullpen, allowed one hit and a walk in his scoreless inning, and Fernando Hernandez closed the game out with another scoreless inning (also allowing a hit and a walk). Braden's early two runs were it for the Cubs.
The A's actually showed some signs of offensive life today (in both games). Crisp led off the game with one of his two hits, and would come home to score the first run of the game on a Kouz sac fly. The next two runs would come off the bat of Travis Buck, courtesy of an RBI single and a homerun, in his bid to at least be mentioned when he gets sent down to Triple-A.
The A's first two runs were off of Carlos Zambrano; the score was tied 2-2 until Buck's homerun. The A's would add two more runs to seal the win.
A's vs. Texas
Texas drops its seventh game in a row as Vin Mazzaro and the A's best Harden and the Rangers by a final score of 6-3. Mazzaro pitched the first four; allowing three hits and two runs. He did walk three, and struck out only one. Jerry Blevins, who has likely already earned a spot in the bullpen, pitched two scoreless innings, allowing no hits, walking one, and striking out two. Hornbeck threw two scoreless of his own, and Henry Rodriguez closed the game out, not without a little trouble and a run, to give the A's the 2-0 record on the day.
The A's hung three runs on Harden in his 5.2 innings; he also walked five and struck out five. He was lucky it wasn't worse. Barton walked in the first, Sweeney doubled him in, and Cust singled him in for the A's first two runs; Recker homered in the second to give the A's a lead they would never relinquish. The middle innings held a lot of zeros; neither team scored from the third to the eighth innings. But in the ninth, FINALLY, we saw some of that promised power from The Not-Yet-Fantastic Mr. Fox. Jake Fox got a count in his favor and smashed 95 MPH fastball for a 3-run homerun. Will it be enough to keep him in Oakland? I honestly don't know. He has about three hits this spring, but two of them are homeruns.
In other sad news, Rosales posted an 0-5; not the time or the place if he is looking to unseat Pennington or Patterson for a roster spot. Rajai Davis also had a couple of hits in today's contest.
Neither Oakland team had a lot of hits during either game, but they sure made them count. They scored just about as many runs as they had hits. Needless to say, I'm still worried about the offense, but the pitching has looked great, and today was no different.