Apparently a Schilling is worth a lot more in the House of Windsor. Beyond that, the final score will show domination yet this was a winnable game. I'll get to that in a minute.
Windsor wobbled through his first start in Baltimore but successfully escaped without too much damage. Tonight, against an offensively superior team he wasn't nearly as lucky. The Red Sox had nine hits off of Windsor in 2 2/3rds innings. They were making solid contact all over the place. Windsor might not be with the team past Sunday any way because the team has every Thursday off in August, so the team could conceivably go with Blanton, Zito, Haren and Loaiza exclusively. Not that that is looking like a great proposition right now.
And you can't blame the bullpen for finally imploding a bit. They'd been flawless for about 21 innings before Los Kirk allowed a few runs. It's just natural that if your starting pitching is struggling that eventually it will catch up to the bullpen. The good news coming out of bullpen land is that the A's should be getting some fresh arms very soon in Witasick and Kennedy. I don't exactly love those two pitchers, but they should be able to do some duty to take the burden off of Calero, Duke and Street in "safer" situations.
The game was probably salvagable despite the final score but the home plate umpire Mark Wegner took matters into his own hands. He called a ridiculous inside strike to Swisher and then the following inning Justin Duchscherer threw four pitches to Manny Ramirez that could've been called a strike that weren't. That opened the door for six extra runs. Granted, who knows what would've happened had the strike zone not gotten erratic, but it still deserved the harsh words that Duke threw his way as he exited stage left. Regardless, good teams do overcome obstacles thrown their way and the A's didn't do that tonight. I still hate it when I feel like an ump has an impact on the turning point in a game.
Kudos to Los Kirk by the way for pitching well after giving up those two runs, and to Jay Payton for saving his bacon with a couple of fine catches. Also, Jason Kendall was great tonight. We're always quick to jump on the guy, but he had a stellar evening doing exactly what a leadoff guy should do, get on base and score runs. If I was an opposing manager, I would either employ an opposite field shift on Kendall or order my pitcher to always pitch him inside. He's master of opposite field hitting. The lineup wound up hurting the A's tonight even though I thought it was a good lineup. Bradley and Swisher killed the team with their Ofers.
But the good news is that this team which appears so very mediocre right now still sits in first place because they are swimming in a pool of mediocrity known as the AL West. We now know what it felt like to be a Padres fan last season when a lot of folks were actually wishing we were in the NL. Be glad we're in the division we are this season.
So it's up to Haren to try and save a bullpen that lost Sauerbeck tonight (who knows for how long?). That doesn't look good since Haren has been really struggling in July. The Sox already took the series, avenging the 3-1 series defeat in Fenway. Let's just hope to salvage a game from this.