Gio Gonzalez is known for two qualities: Electric stuff and the ability to fall apart all of a sudden. Gonzalez was mostly terrific, needing just 37 pitches to get through the first 4 innings, retiring the first 13 batters, and striking out a career high 11 without a walk in an 8 inning complete game effort.
But the 5th inning. Oh, the 5th inning. There were a couple hits, then Andruw Jones was hit by a true "backfoot slider" to load the bases, then a sinking liner to RF off the bat of Brent Lillibridge that Matt Carson -- predictably, in that bless his heart Carson doesn't really belong on a big league roster -- made an ill-advised dive to try to catch, turning a RBI single into a 3-run triple in what would become a 4-run inning.
Meanwhile, Gavin Floyd was perfect through 5 innings, then anything but in the 6th when the A's had a real shot to get right back in the game. Oakland broke through with a run, then loaded the bases with one out when Daric Barton grounded a single through the right side, seemingly scoring Carson from second except that Mike Gallego held him. Even with Jack Cust on deck. And here's where the A's #3-#4 hitters' flaws really hurt the A's. Cust struck out (surprise) and Kouzmanoff hacked at the first pitch (surprise), bouncing weakly to 1B.
So really, all the A's needed was to have Gio avoid the one bad inning, real #3-#4 hitters, and real major leaguers in the corner outfield. How hard can that be? I say start printing those playoff tickets!
Part III of my interview with Craig Breslow runs at 5pm today, and this segment is all about baseball. See you then.