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All Systems Go

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It was kind of "A's Bizarro World" tonight, in that all trends reversed. Barry Zito, usually good for a few walks but not a lot of hits, turned all Danny Haren on us, going 8 innings and walking none. The A's, last in the league in doubles, hit no fewer than seven two-baggers. Adam Melhuse wasn't in the original starting lineup and had three hits. And on it went, until Kiko Calero restored some normalcy to the proceedings by firing his usual shutout frame.

But my "warrior award" goes to Eric Chavez, because two years in a row, Chavy has played through pain, never once volunteering information that could excuse poor stretches at the plate or in the field. Two years in a row, he probably would have gone on the DL had the darn thing not been so crowded. And even though he was mired in a 2/22 slump, with no RBIs and no stride in his swing, I think his presence in the lineup has helped the A's, because in Antonio Perez you might get 2/22, but without the stress on the opposing team. Because when a pitcher sees Chavy in the batter's box, images of his excellent 6-year hitting career come to mind, and that means no pitcher is excited about seeing him at the plate. Then tonight, he came through, twice. Once, with a HR that gave the A's a cushion and then with a single followed by a laborious trek around the bases that can't have felt too good. I think Chavez has emerged as the one thing so many of us questioned whether he would ever be: a true leader. The Dodgers don't have the market cornered on heroic cripples.

Jay Payton is 10 for his last 15, The A's are 8 for their last 8, Barry Zito is a legitimate All-Star contender, and Huston Street got a much-needed night off. All is well in Oakland for at least another day!