It was fine day at the ballpark today, if you are an A's fan. All this week, the Bay Area baseball talk has been focused on the A's losing streak at AT&T Park. It was 9 straight victories by the Giants at AT&T going into Friday, and the A's play Friday and Saturday didn't do much to dispel the thought that the A's can't hold their own there. Friday was an 8-6 debacle, with Parker and a cavalcade of relievers combining for 9 walks, with the extra indignity of walking Barry Zito twice. Trust me, the final score belies how lopsided of a game it was. Saturday was no better, as the A's were shutout by Ryan Vogelsong and the Giants bullpen, managing only one pathetic hit.Today, however, the A's fortunes would change. After two Giants sacrifice flies in 2 consecutive innings against Bartolo Colon, the Giants were up 2-0 going into the top of the 4th. That's when the A's went to work. After getting two on with one out against Tim Lincecum, Daric Barton drew a walk to load the bases. Kurt Suzuki then hit a chopper down the LF line that Joaquin Arias managed to keep in the infield, but was way too far to even an attempt to throw out Suzuki, scoring Seth Smith. That brought up Collin Cowgill, whose play today earned him a gold star. He singled up the middle to plate 2, putting the A's up for good. After a hilariously bad bunt by Colon, and him nearly flatlining running to 1st (more on this later), Lincecum would throw a wild pitch that allowed Cowgill to score all the way from 2nd. Replays showed not that only did Cowgill conclusively score, but he also rung Lincecum's bell with a hard, but clean slide right into his upper chest. The Giants threatened in the 5th, when the Giants loaded the bases with 1 out. After some questionable pitch-calling by Jim Joyce, Colon would rebound to strike out Angel Pagan AND Brandon Belt on tailing fastballs, the last K being the turning point in the game and his final pitch of the afternoon. The Giants wouldn't put up much of a fight for the rest of the game. Josh Reddick blasted a two-run homerun to dead center to provide a 4-run cushion for the A's bullpen. Indeed, the silver star belongs to the A's bullpen, combining for 2 hits, 3 K's, and no walks over 4 shutout innings from Jordan Norberto, Grant Balfour, Ryan Cook, and Brian Fuentes. This win brought the A's back to .500, and ended the AT&T Park losing streak at 11 consecutive games.
Now, for the rant of the game, brought to you by me. First, let's get one thing straight: NL baseball sucks. I don't care that they've won the World Series two consecutive years; no league can be called superior when they have pitchers hitting. Yeah, there's the handful pitchers who hit well (Micah Owings, Carlos Zambrano, Stephen Strasburg), but every other pitcher today looks miserable out there. It's especially noticeable when AL pitchers have their obligatory in-an-NL-park 6 ABs per year. Take Bartolo Colon today. He wanted no part of the baseball, and when he did make contact, he nearly injured himself hauling his pitcher's body down the line. While he made it out of the inning intact, what would have happened had he indeed pulled a hamstring? The A's would be out another pitcher (after having lost one to the DL earlier in the day), all because the senior circuit doesn't know what everyone else in the world does: pitchers can't hit. The sad part is, that the motivation to change to DH rule to include the NL just isn't there: NL baseball fans resist the change, and NL owners don't necessarily want to add a full-time DH salary to their payroll. So, pitcher hitting will likely continue for the foreseeable future.
Join the A's Monday as they take on the Angels at home at 7:05. With dwishinsky and I successfully pulling off a double switch, you can catch me for a morning article on Tuesday and the recap that evening. He'll have the game threads for the day. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!