The A's recently discussed the reasons for having Esteban Loaiza over Rich Harden starting the very large Game 2. When it came down to it, the A's said something like, "Loaiza is much more of a known quantity." That makes sense as Harden was uneven in his return to the mound for the A's, understandably so considering his missed the majority of the year.
Here's where the disconnect comes in. At least for me. The A's made the choice that instead of Danny Haren, who was arguably the second best pitcher on the staff for all of 2006, they wanted to go with the unknown quantity for Game 3. Now don't get me wrong, I think these decisions are fine and I'm pretty sure that the A's have Haren only going once in this series in large part because the Tigers have a lot of home run hitters and Haren is prone to giving up long balls. But at the same time, Haren is also a guy who can strike a lot of guys out (176 Ks, most on the staff). The Tigers are a team that strikes out quite a bit, though you wouldn't know it from last night. Haren did struggle this year against the Tigers with an 0-1 record in two starts and a 5.54 ERA, but Loaiza also struggled, making two starts and finishing with an 0-1 record and an 8.00 ERA.
So the thought process puzzles me in that you have a much lesser known quantity than Haren pitching on Friday night. How do you reconcile the two except for the fact that Haren is prone to giving up the long ball? My simple answer would probably be that the A's are willing to gamble on a pitcher who can dominate and doesn't give up a lot of home runs even if he might walk a few people because that doesn't play to the Tigers strength. Not only that, but Harden, as has been mentioned many times, is Canadian and the temperature in Detroit on Friday will apparently resemble the British Columbian existence Rich grew up with.
Ultimately, it wouldn't make much sense for the A's to have got Harden ready for the postseason if they weren't going to use the weapon. I'm just really surprised that Loaiza won out over Haren in terms of making two starts. Then again, I don't know about you but if it comes to a Game 7, I'd rather have Haren waiting in the wings if Harden struggles than Loaiza.
Maybe that's just me. You don't gamble with Loaiza but then you come back in Game 3 and gamble with the guy who only made three starts down the stretch, one of them awful.
A decision that continues to baffle me is not starting Bobby Kielty last night. Kielty is a lefty-hammering machine. I know you need the defense, but truthfully, the A's need help offensively given their pitiful performance in the postseason so far. I understand the prevailing attitude by Macha is that Kotsay is the veteran of many seasons and that he deserves to be out there, but managers are paid to make these tough decisions and sitting players down. We're trying to win a championship here, folks. We need to go with our stock lefty-facing lineup in the most important games, feelings be damned. And I love Kotsay...he and Chavez are my favorite A's position guys. But I just don't think he should've been in there. Would it have ultimately made a difference? Maybe...maybe not. But it's the manager's responsibility to set the team up for victory and in my opinion, that wasn't done last night.
Regardless, I'll actually be attending the game tonight and I'm heading out in a few hours, so I leave you in the trusted hands of Nico for the rest of the day.