Tonight's game embodies why I hate baseball (it can be quite aggravating when your team gets 13 baserunners but only one of them makes it to the 5-sided base), and why I love baseball--because there are so many "little things" to dissect. Not being one inclined to think, intentionally, about a home loss to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, I choose to focus on the "little things," those parts of the game you might not notice until someone mentions it. For example...
- In the 6th inning, Scott Kazmir was at 103 pitches, trying to get Jason Kendall out to end the inning. At that point, it was unclear whether or not he might go out to pitch the 7th. Kendall took, and fouled off, enough pitches that by the time the at-bat was over but the inning still wasn't, Kendall hadn't gotten the A's any closer on the scoreboard but he had ensured that the A's would have at least three cracks at the Devil Rays' bullpen. Due credit to Kendall for what could have been a crucial at bat.
- Nick Swisher hasn't played that much first base this season, so when a bunt rolled up the first base line, there wasn't a lot of natural chemistry between Swisher and Joe Blanton. It wound up costing the A's an important run when neither fielded the ball and a sacrifice bunt attempt turned into a gift hit. Jay Payton hasn't played every day in left field, so when he and Crosby chased after a foul pop up that was Payton's ball, Crosby and Payton weren't quite in synch and the wrong guy wound up peeling off while the wrong guy stabbed at the ball from the wrong angle, and the ball dropped.
Finally, if you didn't see the game, you might have gotten a slightly skewed impression of Blanton's start. On the surface, 7 IP, 3 ER, not bad. In fact, Blanton was only scored on in two innings, the 1st and the 7th. In the 1st, a bloop single and two seeing eye rollers were required to produce any tallies, and in the 7th a botched bunt is what enabled a run to score--on a shallow fly ball. Blanton really pitched an excellent game, and that's the good news to take from a game bereft of much good news short of "Hey, we came within 1.7 millimeters of tying it." Stupid game of inches that I love.