In taking a 6.5 lead in the AL West, the A's put themselves in a position where they would be in great shape down the stretch--barring a losing streak, of course. So tonight's game was big in its own right, with the A's trying to avoid a third consecutive loss to the Royals. Nothing like a 4-spot in the 7th to make the Friday Horror Picture Show seem like a distant memory.
And nothing like an ace-performance from your ace. Zito gave the A's quality (2 runs) and he also gave them quantity (8 IP), all adding up to a tidy Zito-Gaudin fest on a night when that was pretty much all the options. Zito's 13th win of the season, and 99th win of his career, could not have come at a better time.
Meanwhile, welcome back Bobby Crosby. Much as we appreciate Scutaro, his limitations become evident when he has to play everyday, and one has to wonder whether a relay from anyone but Crosby could have kept the game tied 2-2 in a game the A's ultimately never trailed. Those two runs, of course, were driven in by Croz.
So from Zito's clutch performance, to Crosby's "5-tool" night, to Kendall's "interference play, sac fly" brand of veteran baseball, to Kotsay's RBI hit off a lefty, to the legitimate middle-of-the-order that is Bradley and Thomas, the A's got back to equilibrium tonight. Now maybe the Mariners can beat an AL West opponent for the first time in 19 tries...?