To prepare you for today's game, here are some fun facts about the last two A's games:
- Oakland pitchers have allowed 9 home runs over the last 2 games
- 8 of those 9 homers have been solo shots, which is sort of a silver lining, but it's still way too many homers
- Pat Neshek has received the decision in the last two games (a win and a loss), which is a neat coincidence
- Jemile Weeks is 3-for-6 with a walk in those 2 games. Baby steps.
That list includes a couple of trends that I would like to see continue (limiting damage by keeping opposing runners off base, increasing damage by getting Weeks on base), and a couple I'd like to see end (giving up 4.5 homers per game, allowing Neshek to face lefties with the game on the line and a fully rested bullpen to call on).
Here's another trend I'd like to see continue: Travis Blackley getting the start. Jarrod Parker is starting to fade like the summer sun, and Tommy Milone has struggled lately, so Blackley is back in the mix in order to give those guys some rest. The more rest Parker gets, the deeper into the season he'll be able to pitch. The more rest Milone gets, the better the chance that he can remain sharp into September and, Zeus willing, October. Also, Blackley might be our best starting pitcher right now, which is a really weird sentence to both write AND be happy about.
Robin Ventura is doing his best Geren impression by benching last night's hero, Jordan Danks. OK, that's not fair. Danks is really sitting against the lefty, and his absence allows A.J. Pierzynski to DH (and thus play the entire series, which is crucial because they are missing Konerko's bat and A.J. has been Reddickulous at the plate this year). Melvin is sending out the good lineup today, with Gomes batting 2nd and Weeks 9th. They will face Francisco Liriano, who they have seen twice this year as a member of the Twins.
On May 30
, Liriano threw 6 shutout innings with 9 K's in a 4-0 victory. To be fair, though, that lineup included a 5-6-7 of Donaldson-Suzuki-Barton. Holy crap. Remember when that was our team? On July 13
, Liriano faced an actual MLB lineup, but still went 8 innings with 15 strikeouts
. However, 4 of those K's were of Brandon Hicks, so I'm not sure if they even count in the record books. Also, the A's scored 4 times against Liriano (on a grand slam Gomer...a Gomeslam?), won the game, and pinned him with the loss. So, there's that.
The White Sox have a guy named "Diane" and another guy named Flowers. Tee hee. They also have three guys with different forms of the name "Alex," which is personally interesting to me.