Last year around this time, the A's were a strike away from winning, with David Dellucci at the plate against Oakland's closer. Jermaine Dye dove, the A's lost, and Oakland missed the playoffs by a single game. With Huston Street, it's a whole different ballgame, literally and figuratively. How nice is it to feel so secure with your 22-year old closer on the mound?
A couple of thoughts stemming from this important, and well-played, game. One is about Nick Swisher, a guy in such a batting funk (2/35) that his batting average now sits at just .232 for the season. But without Swisher in there tonight, the A's likely would have lost a game they needed to win to keep pace in both races. Two sensational defensive plays: skidding to cut-off a Mench single and prevent extra bases--so that he could double-up Mench on a line drive one batter later--and a risky diving catch on Teixeira's sinking liner in the 8th inning. Props to Swish for not taking his hitting woes out to right field; no one was any more important to tonight's win than Nick Swisher.
Also, a point about Alfonso Soriano. He's a scary hitter, with quick hands, extreme talent, and impressive power to all fields. But his presence in the middle of the Rangers' lineup has felt like an opportunity throughout this series. In contrast to Young, Teixeira, and Blalock, Soriano is one of those guys who has many holes in his swing; execute the right pitches and he will often get himself out. I think he'd be far more valuable hitting around 7th in their order, and Texas has the group of mashers to make that work. Someone should tell Showalter...as soon as the Angels come calling, that is.