First of all, let's go easy on Justin Duchscherer, as you have to expect a pitcher to be rusty after 6 weeks of inactivity. So it's no wonder that in his inning of work last night, Duchscherer almost threw a ball (6 pitches, 6 strikes). What a clinic, throwing 10 MPH slower than Chad Gaudin, but pounding the corners of the strike zone and changing speeds to the point of batters mouthing "Oh, come on!" as their bats refused to listen to their brains telling them to swing.
The 7th and 8th innings were like the proverbial "Before and After" ads, where the 8th inning was the overweight woman with no makeup on looking vaguely suicidal, and the 7th inning was the same woman, only slender, shiny and elegant, holding hands with a young, dark, handsome man and flirting, seductively and confidently, with the camera. The "before" picture--the one where you can't call on Duke--looks like the Angels celebrating on our field, while the "after" picture looks like Duchscherer's curve freezing a hitter in the 8th inning of the ALDS.
Perhaps I am overstating Duchscherer's importance to the A's chances for the post-season in 2006. Perhaps not. But boy do I like having him back.
Today's pitching matchup features Danny Haren, whose presence today probably enabled Ken Macha to spend his 3 best relievers last night, against Jamey Wright, who has been more than serviceable as a 5th starter. The A's, who played a "once in a lifetime" level of .800 ball this time last year, are 16-4 so far in June.
baseballgirl will take you the rest of the way, as I am off to the Berkeley Rep this afternoon to see Moliere's "The Miser". I have always wanted to see what Moliere could do with Steve Schott's biography.