One year ago, Nick Swisher lost his grandmother who he was extremely close to...she was basically like a second mother to him and he talked with her on a near daily basis.
Tonight, he singled home a run to put the A's on the board and then whacked a two-run home run off Rafael Soriano. It's amazing to be able to do something in honor of someone so special to you. Yesterday was the 16-year anniversary of my father's death and you try and honor the memory of that person each and every day of your life by living right and living honorably. So I felt really happy for Swisher to be able to do something so incredibly memorable on an anniversary that can be so bittersweet.
Any way, the A's have now won 13 straight games against the Mariners. That's THIRTEEN. They're two wins away from tying their best streak ever against one team. And they did it exactly the way that they've done it the rest of this month. Their bullpen was stellar...their defense was magnificent and they got a key hit when they needed it. Tonight's victory goes directly to Chad Gaudin and the door he slammed to keep the Mariners within reach after Barry Zito's second straight wobbly evening.
But the defense continues to just leave me with my mouth hanging open...Chavez with the catch in the bullpen and keeping Ichiro from scoring. Swisher with the diving stab at first. Kotsay in the ninth inning to take away a base hit and Justin Duchscherer's cat-like move to first to pick off Ichiro.
Welcome back to Joe Kennedy who got a key strikeout to end a threat in the eighth. The A's could use Kennedy down the stretch as key cog in the bullpen. Also, how nice is it to have a guy like Justin Duchscherer who can close in Street's absence.
Almost everything is going the A's way right now, except for the apparent rift developing between the A's players and the A's medical staff. The A's may be 5 1/2 games up on both the Angels and Rangers and 10 up on Seattle, but not all is well with some of the players and the A's trainers:
Only after -- at Harden's urging -- Kennedy took a trip to Canada to visit chiropractor Jamie Grimes during the All-Star break did the shoulder start to improve. Prior to that trip, Kennedy underwent three MRI exams and tried acupuncture, laser treatment, ultrasound, cortisone and electric stimulation in an effort to identify and ease the source of discomfort.
"You name it, I tried it. I ran the gamut," said Kennedy, who conceded that the inability of Oakland's athletic trainers and medical staff to expedite his recovery made the process all the more maddening.
"That makes it a little frustrating, that it wasn't diagnosed properly," he said. "But it is a shoulder, and shoulders are complicated. ... That's why you get second and third opinions."
Larry Davis, the A's head athletic trainer, bristled at the notion that Grimes provided the solution.
"Rich's guy is a chiropractor, OK? He's not a [medical doctor]," Davis said, noting that A's team orthopedist Jerrald Goldman and noted arm specialist Lewis Yocum were among the doctors who examined Kennedy. "Rich's guy happened to come in at a time when [Kennedy] was just about cured. It's easy to be the last guy in and say you cured him."
That's a bit disturbing and it's no wonder that Harden was seeking a second opinion. He had little faith that the A's medical team was diagnosing him properly. I imagine this is an issue that will be reviewed closely come this offseason. The A's injury problems from last year have only gotten worse this season and while I don't think it's accurate to blame the medical staff it's clear that some players are doing just that. You can't have athletes that don't trust your team's medical staff.
Regardless, September 1 could be a huge date for the A's postseason chances. Circle it on your calendar and hope for a healthy Harden, which just so happens to be the subject of my most recent column for FSN Bay Area.
It was a great, memorable night for A's fans, but more so for a young man who honored his inspiration in a way that only he could. Congratulations on a wonderful night, Swish. It's nice to have you back.