He may be the smartest man in baseball, but once the pitch is thrown the brain takes a backseat and the brawn takes over. And though he wasn't facing hitters of Ryan Braun's stature, Willy Aybar and Sean Rodriguez proved that when you don't locate your fastball you're in trouble. Aybar's RBI double, followed by Rodriguez' 2-run HR, turned a 4-2 A's lead into a 5-4 Rays' advantage in the 8th inning, undoing Brett Anderson's solid 7 innings (2 ER) and the offense managing 4 runs off of All-Star game starter David Price.
There was much wailing on AN about Bob Geren's decision to stick with Breslow as Aybar (switch-hitter) and Rodriguez (right-handed hitter) batted, and while I think Brad Ziegler would have been a solid choice to face Rodriguez (though he likely would have faced the left-handed Matt Joyce), I also think it made sense to roll with Breslow. Andrew Bailey is scheduled to come off the DL tomorrow, but for one more night the A's were just short-handed with Bailey out, Wuertz having been really inconsistent (and probably tabbed for the 9th anyway), Ziegler too shaky against lefties to bring in to face Aybar, Henry Rodriguez just way too green and volatile for this kind of situation, and Breslow having been pretty solid in these situations throughout the year. I think there was more than one right choice, and I'd say that both Ziegler and Breslow made sense. Breslow blew it, so it goes.
The ramifications, however, are steep. With a win the A's could have pulled to within 6 games of Texas; instead it's just two steps forward, one step back when the team needed to take a bunch of steps forward in order to make it truly interesting.
On the plus side, along with Anderson's return to top form you have to love Daric Barton's 3 for 3 with a walk, including a pair of line drive singles. Get a couple sluggers behind him and you're in business. Put Kurt Suzuki and Kevin Kouzmanoff behind him, however, and...you'll lose by a run instead of winning by a run.
Braden's perfect game tomorrow will still give the A's a series win against a great team. I wonder how the A's will score to win 1-0 despite Matt Garza's no-hitter. Stay tuned.