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The AL West: And Then There Were Two...

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On a night where the A's nearly hit two grand slams but settled for three run-scoring outs, what could have been a night of frustration instead became a clinic for the Rangers on what makes for a good pitcher. As in, the Rangers might wish they had signed Barry Zito, who is now 17-4 lifetime against Texas, and they might wish they had kept Justin Duchscherer, whom they discarded in 2001. Each had a big hand in subduing Texas this weekend and officially sending the Rangers gently into that good night known as "playing out the string".

If the Rangers had a better feel for pitching, don't you suppose that in their last gasp to stay in a pennant race, instead of throwing wild rookie Edinson Volquez and power-nibbler Adam Eaton, they might have chosen instead to, say, start Joaquin Benoit against the one team he utterly dominates? Before tonight, the A's were batting .180 against Benoit in his career, and now the A's have all of 19 hits in Benoit's 31.2 career innings against Oakland. So for that, thank you, Texas!

As for Duchscherer, the truth is that this point in the two careers, I feel about exactly the same with Duke and Street closing. I don't feel either is "Eck-automatic" and I feel both are quality closers. If anything, Duke seems the more efficient and consistent of the two--eventually, Street should be the superior closer. But right now, the A's don't lose anything in the 9th inning with Street out. That's depth!

And finally, Joe Kennedy. Blez articulated before the season how while the team looked pretty solid overall, one of his main concerns was that the lack of a real LOOGY would cost the A's a couple games. What none of us knew was that Kennedy would be a real LOOGY, and a versatile one at that. He got the biggest out in tonight's game, got four outs to get the game to Duke, and is tonight's "unsung hero of the game". Nice to have you back, Joe!

Three paragraphs in a row ending with an exclamation point, and I'm not big on exclamation points. Yeah, the A's are playing that well.