The A's were crawling through the desert of bad starting pitching and were absolutely parched for an oasis of relief.
Dan Haren was not a mirage today. He was everything that A's needed and more. 8 IP, 3 hits, 7 Ks and one walk. More importantly no runs. Haren has had his great stretches this season and stretches where he's looked very hittable.
The beauty is that so much was made of Liriano's start. It quickly became a cautionary tale for our very own Oakland A's and their handling of Rich Harden, but I'll get to that in a second.
As many have said, starting pitching can go into a slump just like any other part of a team. The A's were officially in a slump and hopefully Haren's beauty helps the rest of the staff turn it around and they start to play a game of anything you can do I can do better. It doesn't get any easier with Jon Garland starting against the A's on Friday night.
So while the A's won this game on Haren's shoulders, they also received a little help from Dale Marsh, the second base umpire who called Milton Bradley safe when he was clearly out. Payton then hit a double to score the winning run. It rests between the hollow head of Justin Morneau, who after killing the A's repeatedly in recent seasons, made one of the dumbest base running mistakes I've seen in quite a while. But sometimes you need to be good AND lucky to get out of a potential slump. The A's got the good today from Bradley (the run and the Bubblicious(tm) catch) and the great from Haren.
The A's now get their last day off of the year and Rich Harden will throw one more simulated game on Saturday at the Coliseum. After watching Liriano stumble off the mound after that pitch to Bobby Kielty, the A's had better make sure Harden is 110 percent before they take a chance with him. He's too great of a talent to risk rushing him back too early.
Finally, even if Liriano is seriously hurt and is out for some time, I still want NO part of the Twins if the A's make it to October. Morneau and Cuddyer salivate at the opportunity.
Nice win today and if the White Sox can somehow take down the Angels today, the A's will be sitting right where they were when the series started. Go White Sox!