Sure there was a blip, and yes, it ended with fatigue, but Barry Zito came up big for the A's tonight. He pounded the strike zone, he shut a good offense down for 5 innings while the A's built up a lead, and he got the A's into the 8th inning. And he got the A's back into the win column, so that the focus could leave the issue of "Will we ever win again?" to the more pleasant business of being two games out with 113 to play. With the uncertainty surrounding Loaiza's future, Harden's health, and Blanton's consistency, the A's rotation, touted as "potentially great" in March, looks like it may be only "good" even under ordinary circumstances. As such, Zito's importance to this team is clearly seen on nights like tonight, and the prospect of losing him becomes scary again. The guy can be maddening, and the guy can be awfully good. He was awfully good tonight.
This was a night for the veterans to step up. I think Eric Chavez won the game in the 6th inning, with his clutch play on a Michael Young smash--one which was followed by a hit-batter, a walk, and a three-run HR. It was a "here we go again" inning, and had it started with one more runner and one less out, who knows what would have happened? We all do, that's who, and that's why Chavy's play was so big.
And Frank Thomas, on his 38th birthday: single, walk, single, walk, his first four times up. Don't look now, but Thomas' overall OBP and HR numbers are above average, and <Al Pacino voice, please> "He's just getting warmed up!" Hoo-wah!
It was good to see the A's adjust their hitting approach, not letting Kameron Loe get ahead on first-pitch cookies, and spraying outside pitches to the opposite field. It was good to see Nick Swisher get back to his short, quick stroke, the one that produces two-run triples instead of gusts of wind. It was good to see Huston Street win a battle with Phil Nevin, and you know what? It was just good to win a baseball game. Period.