Here's my take on the way the A's reacted when Jed Lowrie was finally plunked by Paul Clemens -- on the third try that spanned a week of failed efforts to finally throw a ball that Lowrie couldn't dodge.
Imagine you're in close quarters with a bully your size and strength -- or perhaps bigger and stronger -- and the bully tries to intimidate you. You might feel you need to hit back to show that he had better not keep messing with you. After all, if you don't do anything, you send the message that you can be bullied and intimidated again and again in the future. Perhaps you feel the need to get the authorities, or a gang of your friends, to stand with you, since when you are one-on-one with the bully you are vulnerable.
The situation is different, though, if you are the big brother and your little brother or sister, half your age and half your size, tries to mess with you. You might flick them away and stay, "Go away, I'm trying to read." You don't need to retaliate, posture, or get back-up because you know, and they know, that you are older, bigger and stronger and can take care of yourself as need be. It's like flicking away a mosquito: "You're a nuisance. Go away."
That's pretty much what Lowrie, his teammates, and Bob Melvin did last night when Lowrie was plunked. Lowrie looked at the umpire and fortunately the umpire, without urging or hesitation, properly ejected Clemens. Lowrie looked at Jason Castro, with an expression that appeared to be a blend of irritation and confusion, and just said, "Why?"
Then Lowrie shrugged his shoulders and trotted down to first base, the A's declined to give the Astros any fuel for any fire, deciding that the status quo -- which is that the A's almost never lose to the Astros and generally win big -- was fine with them, and calmly went about their business as if nothing had happened. Josh Donaldson stepped in and launched a "swung on, gone" blast over the left-center field wall, and that was the closest thing to a statement anyone on the A's elected to make on the subject of making Lowrie a piñata to the stick that was Clemens' pitches.
Essentially, the A's acted as if the Astros were not really worth fighting. Why fight your little sister when you can just say "go away" and she knows she has to? Why play into the Astros' attempt to change the status quo, when the status quo is that you keep thumping the living daylights out of them on the field? Why bother? Whatever. What's the score? 10-1? Cool.
Well played, Oakland. You're 14-8 and you're not 7-16. That's a really good answer to whatever question the Houston Astros think they're asking.