Esteban Loaiza possibly pitched the best game by an A's pitcher in 2006 this evening. Who would've thought that we'd ever be saying that in April? I know I didn't. I tried to exercise patience when it came to Loaiza, especially when it was clear that he was hurt at the beginning of the year. He now has a 1.77 ERA in August and has emerged as a stud when the A's needed it most. You can not overestimate the beauty of this evening in the fact that the A's bullpen now gets two days off heading into a key series with Texas in Arlington.
I don't know how long Loaiza will pitch like this, but enjoy the ride. And what exactly is it about the A's and their fourth starter every season?
Last season, Joe Blanton finished August with a 1.17 ERA for August and he was essentially the A's fourth starter that month. Going back a few years, Cory Lidle had the lowest ERA in Oakland A's history over any one month. August 2002 Lidle posted a 0.20 ERA. Ted Lilly absolutely sparkled in 2003.
When people ask why the A's seem to awaken every year in August, one of the things you can point to is having a fourth starter who pitches like an ace. The A's are now getting that out of Loaiza. And truthfully, I don't think anyone could've ever expected it.
As for the offense, you can call it a Billy Beane two-fer night with both Thomas and Bradley accounting for five of the six runs. Oh, and Jason Kendall drove in the other one.
If Loaiza can continue pitching like this, I believe the A's will be playing in October. Whether he can or not is another question, but I'm just glad that a guy who was beaten around more than a pinata at a stickball convention is finally proving his worth.
It was a great night north of the border, let's just hope the Red Sox can win a game tonight for the first time since 2004...or something like that.