Looking up and down the Diamondbacks' lineup, watching their pitchers throw, the question isn't so much, "How could we lose to this team?" as it is, "How did this team go 3-20?" Make no mistake, this is not the National League's version of the Kansas City Royals, this is just a team that had a Royalsesque stretch--one which, unfortunately, may have run exactly through last night.
So as A's fans ponder what might have been had Saarloos closed out Saturday's game uneventfully, and not been rusty tonight, Brad Halsey scrambles for a dictionary to look up the concept of a "shut-down inning."
Positives? Mark Ellis looked good. Frank Thomas fouled a ball off his beleaguered body, then ran 360 feet, and is not dead. Scott Sauerbeck tried throwing some pitches in the strike zone and it worked. And...That's about it. Just your basic, "sure glad we won yesterday's game somehow because 4-game losing streaks are not good, and we sure didn't look like division leaders tonight yet we are, so hey, I'll take it."
Let me end by returning to one thing. Saarloos did a very good job last year often pitching on long rest as the #5 starter, but as a sinkerballer he is really not well suited to getting sporadic work. I don't blame Saarloos when he comes out for a start like this and has no command; it's expected and there's not much he can do about it. As a middle or short reliever, or as a regular starter, Saarloos is set up to succeed. But as a long reliever or spot starter, I believe he is ultimately set up to fail. The A's might need to come to terms with this and figure out a way to make better use of Kirk Saarloos.