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"Any Given Friday"

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No offense to the once and future King Felix, but it seems to me that there was a dominant pitching performance tonight...and that it wasn't from Felix Hernandez. As excellent as Hernandez was tonight, Blanton was more excellenter, getting 8 innings out of his 99 pitches, allowing all of two singles, deciding that having runners in scoring position really wasn't his thing, and making it look easy from his first pitch to his last. I've been luke-warm on Blanton so far this career, but I think tonight was the night he sold me. Along with his signature command, Blanton's fastball looks livelier, and his breaking sharper, than I saw this time last year--or even last August when he was putting up outstanding numbers. The way he pitched tonight, it seemed like the A's were flaunting their rotation by letting Blanton pitch as the #5.

Also, the next time you want to fire Ken Macha, remember what really bad managing looks like. You don't walk Dan Johnson when he's 0-for-2006, when he's dragging the bat through the zone to pop up 3-1 cookies, when his luck is such that the only line drive he hits all season results in a diving catch. You don't walk him to pitch to Scutaro, a .321 lifetime hitter in April who is one of the only A's hitters going well right now. You don't walk Kendall, when you could bring the infield in and hope (gee, here's a stretch) that he might hit a weak ground ball or a short fly ball, so you can roll the batting order over to Kotsay, the other guy who is hitting well right now. I'm not saying Hargrove is a bad manager, I'm saying he managed really badly in that inning. Really, really badly. And not well.

Finally, a couple stray thoughts about the Bradley blunder. First of all, do you realize how hard it is to hit a ball off the center-field wall with two out and the bases loaded, and not drive in more than one run? It's really difficult (if you don't have Bengie Molina), but when Joe Blanton is pitching, the A's really commit to not scoring. Second of all, Kendall's speed cost the A's on that play. If it had been Thomas at first when the ball was hit, Bradley would have been able to return to third base (or at least stop at the nearest gas station to ask directions). Crazy, crazy, crazy. Luckily, it didn't matter.

EDITOR'S NOTE
For those who may not be aware, Saturday's game is a 6:05pm start. Frankly, I hadn't even checked, so I thought maybe others--especially those outside the Bay Area--might also be caught off guard. See you around 5:30pm with the game thread...