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Saint Nick

This was such a crucial win. With Rogers and Bonderman waiting their turn in this series, the A's had to get this victory. And it wasn't easy.

The A's basically did it on the strength of a good at-bat by Milton Bradley and two Nick Swisher bombs. Swisher is off and running, hitting .340 and a 1.163 OPS for the season. He's showing the promise that made him such a high draft pick and one of the stars of Moneyball. Funny thing is, there's a chance that Swish could get the day off tomorrow because the A's are facing lefty Kenny Rogers and Kielty loves him some southpaw.

Regardless, I'm very impressed with Verlander, and not just because he had the radar gun registering triple digits on his last pitch. The guy has a fireball of a fastball, but even better, he's got a gnarly changeup. If he can put it together quickly, Detroit could be a major player in the AL Central.

And what more can you say about Duke that hasn't already been said here? Two innings, two hits, one strikeout and a win.

Street bounced back tonight, but I'm still concerned about him. He threw several pitches that were very hittable. Especially to Shelton. Regardless, he got through it and perhaps this is a good rebound game for him.

Speaking of rebounds, I saved the best for last. Hallelujah!!! Esteban Loaiza had a quality start for the A's in lasting six innings and only giving up three runs. He also had three strikeouts, tripling the number he had in his first two outings. Loaiza did seem to get stronger as the game went along as well. In the fifth and sixth inning, he started hitting 90 with regularity for the first time in green and gold. Perhaps that WBC had a bigger effect on his preparation than we anticipated. Regardless, you can't say he's back until he puts together three or four of these in a row. But this is a good start.

Lastly, on this night when everyone is feeling good about the team, I wanted to share a letter from some of the beneficiaries of AN's generosity. Sports4Kids is an organization that AN donated tickets to during the offseason. Young kids in the Oakland area are going to A's games thanks to your generosity. Here is the first letter thanking you for all that you've done:

The letters read (in case you can't see them):

Dear Athletics Nation,

Thank you for the tickets. I really enjoyed the game even with the crazed fans. Even though we lost, it was great. -----

Thanks 4 giving us tickets. I really enjoyed being here with my friends and I'm enjoying the game. I had lots of fun. Thanks again. -----

Thank you for the tickets. We enjoyed it very much even though it was freezing cold. :) Thanks again. -----

From Chelsea
From Mary
From An

Positive vibes abound, thanks to Good St. Nick and AN. And to all, a good night.