Smokin Joe Blanton was exactly that tonight. And he'll be that way all season, at least with his control. I went to a River Cats game last season when he threw close to 100 pitches and about 82 of them were strikes.
Sometimes he's gonna miss location in the zone and get killed like Reed Johnson did to him tonight. But he will by and large be around the zone. Sometimes with men on base, that's going to hurt him with three-run bombs. But he's almost like a right-handed Mark Mulder in that sense. Well, the old Mulder. He throws a variety of pitches and is usually in the strike zone somewhere. That may change a bit as he tries to be more fine in the majors. But it was his MO in the minors. And hopefully he continues to go right after hitters.
Here are a few other random thoughts:
- It's no secret that Durazo is struggling mightily. He almost killed the A's in the bottom of the eighth inning. Here it is, plain and simple. If Durazo stuggles for a lengthy period of time (I'm talking two months), he could be moved sooner than expected. He's making $4.7 million this year and Dan Johnson could likely provide at least the same, if not better stats for a lot less. Yes, Ruby is the Holy Grail, but that's a lot of money for even the holiest of grails. And Scott Hatteberg probably doesn't have anywhere near the value Durazo does on the open market.
- Nice to see Nick Swisher as the offensive star of the game. The kid will have ups and downs like any major leaguer, but he seems to be the type that can just smile right through it and move on. Lenny Dykstra indeed.
- Huston Street gave up a run that cost Blanton the win. But many will question why Street was even in there in the first place? With Blanton's pitch count low and him pitching well, should the A's have stuck with him? My feeling is that the A's pen should be good enough this year so the pressure doesn't mount on these youngsters. Remember, Blanton was only making his second major league start tonight. So, you want him to make like George Costanza and leave on a high note. Street is also young and will give up an odd run here and there, it's just too bad that it cost Smokin Joe the victory.
- An off day tomorrow and then comes the first weekend series against the AL West. TGIID (Thank God It's In Division) I'm actually pretty happy to be facing a division opponent. Finally we get to see all those players we've come to love to hate. You've got Coolio (Guerrero), Lipless Erstad, Slingblade Lackey, Panties Figgins and Shrek himself (Bartolo Colon). Can our scrappy group of players compete with the mighty Angels Angels? We shall see. But I can't wait.