Raise your hand if you thought that come September 9th A's 1Bmen would be out-homering Albert Pujols. Yup, 35-29 (Moss 16, Carter 14, Ka'aihue 4, Barton 1).
Raise your hand if you thought that on September 8th both batting leaders would be named M. Cabrera.
Well me too. Now jump for some other thoughts without which you can't possibly live another moment without reading...
* You can't love or hate the pitching matchup today, because Tommy Milone and Jason Vargas are the same person. Get ready for the 87-88 MPH fastball with a plus changeup, working both sides of the plate like a surgeon and utilizing the spacious outfield. Unfortunately, we don't appear to hit Milone very well, as Vargas has limited the A's to 17 hits in 27.1 IP this year (2-0, 1.98 ERA), largely because we seem to think that the changeup in the dirt outside is a terrific pitch to try to hit. It isn't.
* Torii Hunter has said that he is a lot more comfortable in the #2 spot, and has a better approach when he hits #2, and his results have certainly borne this out. There's no reason a batter should "hit differently" in a different spot, but even if it's a "placebo effect" -- "I think I'll do better so I do," or "I take a 'good #2 hitter approach' when I bat #2 and that's a good approach for me," placebo effects are real and psychology affects our body.
Josh Reddick's natural approach is best suited to the #5 or #6 spot anyway, and he seemed to thrive when moved to the #6 hole. Then he moved back to #3 and has struggled again. Put him where he belongs, and move Chris Carter, whose "feast or famine with a high OBP" profile works well in the #3 spot. Such as:
Crisp - CF
Smith/Gomes - DH
Carter - 1B
Cespedes - LF
Reddick - RF
Donaldson - 3B
Kottaras - C
Drew - SS
Pennington - 2B
(If Norris is catching, move Drew up to #7, Norris to #8)
* Sonny Gray gets the ball in game 5 of the Rivercats-Aces AAA best-of-5 playoff series. This seems fitting, since Gray's "bulldog mentality," along with his relatively small frame, has caused comparisons to Tim Hudson. Perhaps Gray can pull his version of Huddy's "game 162" effort in 2000, the 3-0 win over Texas that got the A's back to playoffs for the first of 4 straight post-season appearances. (OK it was actually a "game 161" effort as it prevented the A's from having to go back to Tampa Bay to make up a rainout, but it was the last day of the regular season.) Go Cats!
* The A's have won 8 consecutive road games; good timing since they are in a stretch of 17 away games out of 20. The team with the second best record in the American League will go for 9 roadies in a row at 1:10pm. Look for the changeup.