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May The Best Manager Win

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Score one for the rookie. The story is no longer about offensive ineptitude, it's about how it all ended so differently from how it started and continued, with the A's, shutout right down to their last strike, finally scoring--and then scoring again to win it 2-1.

Bob Geren made all the right moves while Ozzie Guillen made all the wrong moves. With Gaudin slayed by the pitch count, Geren rolled the dice with his front end pitchers, who were rested enough to buy the A's time to try to score that elusive run or two. Then with two on and none out in the 9th, Geren correctly let Chavez hit away--knowing that a bunt would take the bat out of not one but two hands, Chavez and Swisher, leaving it up to the bottom of the order to come through. That move didn't look too great when Chavez and Swisher each got out, but then Geren surprised me by doing something I can't believe Ken Macha ever would have done: He pinch hit for Bobby Crosby with the more experienced, and far more left-handed, Todd Walker. Great move, and this one paid off in spades.

That's when Ozzie Guillen took over. He committed a complete and total blunder, ordering the intentional walk of the rookie Travis Buck. By loading the bases, Guillen put the pressure squarely on his own pitcher putting him in a situation where a HBP or walk would lose the game. IBBs to load the bases should be used sparingly, not to bail out rookies who have struck out in half their major league at-bats. Now when Jenks fell behind in the count 2-1 he had no choice but to groove one to Mark Ellis--and this time Ellis didn't bounce back to the mound. Redemption for the man whose bunting failures in Anaheim, hitting and fielding failures earlier tonight, must have made this game-winning hit all the sweeter.

All's well that ends well, eh?