Ho hum. The A's win yet another series, this time getting the icing on the cake with the sweep of the RedSox. And although the Boston lineup may be worse than the Royals' right now, it is no small feat on any given day to beat Curt Schilling. And not just 'beat'. If your name is 'Mark Ellis', Schilling is now your personal batting practice pitcher. Schilling may have collected his 3,000th strikeout <pauses a moment for the sake of baseball history>, but his performance today was more about 'getting pounded' than 'striking people out'. Just about every player contributed offensively today, and it was easily more than the pitching staff needed.
Zito was great early, and then became Houdini, but the way the A's have been playing, even with the bases loaded and only up by three, there was never the sense that the A's could lose this game. On a personal note, no matter how many times I hear it, my eyes still fill when I hear the "Zi-to" chant, and I'm glad Blez got to be there today. On another personal note (how many am I allowed?), I do hope David Ortiz gets well soon.
In case you haven't noticed, this is not the A's baseball team that we've grown accustomed to since the 2000 season. Let me re-introduce you to your '06 A's; a team which has no real comparison. A's fans have been conditioned to be the underdogs; to wait with baited breath for the team to run out of steam and slowly be overmatched by other teams with more money and more superstars, whether it is in the first round of the playoffs, or the end of the regular season.
Not this year.
Our A's have gone through quite a rollercoaster ride this season, but coming out of the fire, it appears that they have picked up some skills that their predecessors may have been lacking:
- They simply do not make the mental errors in the field. The A's defense has been rock-solid; not just in staying out of the 'error' column, but in not letting teams have extra bases, extra outs, and extra runs.
- Their pitching is as solid, from the starters to the bullpen, as any other team in the Major Leagues right now, all without Rich Harden and Huston Street.
- This team can bounce back from anything, and does so with style. After a devastating double-header sweep combined with losing their closer in the Friday games to open the Royals' series--undoubtedly one of the worst days of the whole season--the A's spent not one minute dwelling on any of the losses, including the loss of Huston. They immediately split the series, and then won the next three; today's series ending in a sweep.
- This team regularly wins baseball games without scoring a lot of runs.
Hmmm...I wonder where all these skills would come in really handy?
For once, as it currently stands, no team in baseball has more practice playing the close games than the A's. They are used to every inning counting, and consider every run scored valuable.
But although we're getting close, we're not quite there yet. I still think it's a little early for A's fans to start calculating a magic number, so I'm not going to give one out.
However, I do have a magic number for Angels' fans:
It's 1-877-493-BALL, more commonly known as the A's ticketing office.
Choose the option for "Oakland Playoff Games".
Be sure to buy two tickets; one for yourself, and one for the Angels' player of your choice, because that's as close as he's going to come to any 2006 post-season game.
And be sure to check out the Quote of the Month Diary!