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From Cats To Birds, A's Stay On Track

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Tonight's wrap-up is a veritable potpourri, brought to you by AFLAC: When you need some insurance runs, call on the AFLAC duck every time.

  • Another terrific outing by Joe Blanton, whose fastball location remains top-notch and whose breaking ball looks sharper these days. Here's an eye-popping stat that has a sample size of 136.1 innings: In months that aren't May, Cupcakes has an ERA for the season of 2.31. Wow.
  • When an inning starts with a bunt single, followed by a 2-run HR, is that "small ball" or "Moneyball"? Answer: It's good baseball, folks. The two concepts aren't mutually exclusive (and for that matter, bunt singles don't make outs anyway). Nicely done, A's.
  • Something I've really noticed is that there seem to be two aspects of the A's offense that really correlate with the A's good offensive stretches. One is that as the A's RISP goes, the offense goes. This is not surprising, since hits with RISP have a tendency to score runners. But the other one is that good offensive stretches seem to correlate with periods when the A's use aggressive baserunning. Tonight, Kendall and Kotsay in the 1st inning really set the tone. Then Chavez helps to manufacture a run with a rare A's steal. This is the "small ball" side of the A's I'd like to see 162 games/year: there are many ways to be aggressive and proactive on the bases besides attempting steals. As an example, when the A's start tagging up from first, I always know they're locked in as a team.
  • Speaking of Chavez and thievery, Chavy is a very underrated base-stealer. With tonight's steal, he is now 40/55 (73%) for his career, and 36/47 (77%) since the start of the 2001 season.
  • Tough night for the former A's, as Miggy makes an important error, goes hitless and strikes out in two key situations, and Byrnes makes an error while looking overmatched at the plate all night.
  • Huston Street has the lowest ERA of any AL reliever, including Mariano Rivera. And it's no fluke.