When you can't rely on a team's offense to score more than 1 or 2 runs a game, whether against good pitchers like Brandon Webb, or "less good" pitchers like Miguel Batista, and Claudio Vargas, it intensifies the need for every other piece of the game to fall into place - defense, relief pitching, and game management.
Today, with the A's only offense being "YAFTS" (Yet Another Frank Thomas Solo), and Zito pitching his heart out into another 120+ pitch outing, every other piece contributed to today's failure, as could be seen by those watching at home, and from AN spies sitting behind home plate today, namely:
- Dan Johnson's 9th inning error allowed the Diamondback's offense to get started at a critical juncture. As Ron Washington has publicly stated that Swisher is the better defensive first baseman, and we have seen Payton and Kielty hot at the plate, it may be time to consider moving Swisher to 1st, and having an outfield that includes Payton, Kotsay and Kielty or Bradley, when Kielty or Bradley return.
- Frank Thomas - what a pickup! He homers yesterday to break up the shut out. He homers today to start off the scoring. But why is he still batting 4th, as it continues to have him leading off innings with nobody on base? Yes, the A's other hitters have to do something, but in this humble fan's opinion, Thomas is our best hitter right now, and should be in the third spot.
- Zito should not have been out there as long as he was. While he's the team's ace, he should not have been allowed to pitch the 9th, especially as hitters reached base. With fans yelling, "Macha, Wake Up!", the game slipped away, while Huston Street was ready to come in, both to start the inning, and later, with one out. For comparative purposes, the Yankees frequently put Mariano Rivera in to start the 9th at home in a tie game situation. Street never had a chance.
Yes, the offense is tired. Yes, the offense didn't do squat in a three-day series at home against a lousy team from a lousy division from an inferior league. But adjustments have to be made that utilize common sense. And with the team starting off July 0-2, the heat should be on the manager and the pitching coach, and the hitting coach - as each of them could and should have done something in today's game to avert this calamity.