The A's head into the all-important series with the Angels tomorrow having won an extra inning tilt with the Orioles. Eric Byrnes blunder opened the door for a five-run inning in the 12th. I've said many times that I'd miss Byrnes' energy, but I don't miss that type of erratic defense. Spectacular one minute and Little League the next.
This team has now hit 15 home runs over the last six games with Mark Ellis leading the way with five homers over that time span. Ellis has been absolutely remarkable over this stretch and should remain near the top of the order, even when our team is completely healthy.
And for those screaming for a big bat near the trading deadline (myself included)? Well, we got one. His name is Jay Payton and he has 12 home runs in 38 games since joining the A's. He has a .301 batting average (and a mediocre .323 OBP), but he's slugging like he is playing in Colorado again. The A's needed right-handed power desperately and now they have it (a hearty thanks to Theo Epstein for this one). He's hit a home run every 12.75th at-bat. Chavy is only hitting a home run every 22.9th at-bat and Crosby is averaging every 34.2th at-bat. He's also playing stellar defense in left field and center when Kotsay's back has acted up. Payton hasn't done it for a long period of time yet, so beware small sample size, but he already has more at-bats with the A's than he did with the Red Sox.
I was watching Baseball Tonight last night and both Kruk and Jeff Brantley claimed that no one in the American League made a significant pick-up besides the Yankees with Matt Lawton. This only proves their ignorance (not that it was ever in doubt). Payton has become the perfect power bat and is having a Jermaine Dye-like second half of the season.
And kudos to Ken Macha on a very well-managed game. He pulled Saarloos early, pulled Rincon and didn't overuse Street. The bullpen could be a bit taxed after today, especially with Duke and Calero going two innings, but hopefully Z goes deep tomorrow. He's going to need it as Shrek has clearly been the Angels staff ace this year. Facing Shrek and Slingblade back-to-back will be a tall order, so I'm really happy the green and gold pulled this one out today.
LET'S GO FIRST PLACE OAKLAND A'S!!!