So many details to dissect in a game like this. Here's a few key thoughts...
- So many obvious stars tonight, from Swisher (for his go-ahead RBI) to Kotsay (great situational hitting to tie it) to Kendall (getting a rally started). But to me, the hero is Bobby Kielty, for his tremendous at-bat. He fought off two very tough 3-2 pitches and then got the best pitch Benitez threw all inning, and with Kendall running. He didn't strike out, as he could well have, and he didn't roll over to bounce out. He slashed a single to left that set everything else up. Just a great at-bat by the team's leading hitter. That's right, a team-leading .296.
- I felt it at the time and thanks to the A's comeback I can suggest it now: The A's won the game on Barry Bonds' bases-loaded walk. Blanton doesn't really have an out-pitch to get Bonds, and if you recall a game Aaron Harang pitched in S.F. a few years ago, he had the same situation against Reggie Sanders. The count went 3-1 and Harang made a mistake--he thought the worst thing he could do was to walk Sanders. Sanders hit a grand slam, one of 2 HRs on the day, drove in all 5 runs, and Harang learned the hard way that there are worse outcomes than a bases-loaded walk. Blanton did a great job of keeping the A's in striking distance tonight. A grand-slam would have changed that.
- Thankfully, it didn't cost the A's the game--as it appeared to at the time--but Bonds' steal was such a perfect example of what I was getting at with my "McCarver play" point this morning. If you sit Chad Gaudin down quietly and ask him what to do if a runner breaks early, he'll tell you, calmly, "Step off, run at the runner..." Ask Dan Johnson what to do on that play and he'll tell you, "Step forward to grab the throw, clear yourself..." But in the heat of the moment, caught off-guard, Gaudin didn't step off and Johnson let the throw handcuff him and then still had to clear himself. The element of surprise does terrible things to a defense. Luckily, the A's are doing the things that allow you to go 17-4, and when the dust cleared, it was all good.