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A Game Decided During The 7th Inning Stretch?

It kind of feels like tonight’s game was decided between innings. The A’s had come back to tie the game 4-4 on Jason Kendall’s annual deep fly ball, a double that brought the A’s all the way back. Justin Duchscherer, usually expected in the 8th inning with the A’s ahead, had been throwing in the bullpen with the A’s trailing, yet he did not come out to pitch the bottom of the 7th. Neither did Joe Blanton, who was only at 81 pitches but who was asked only to toss his eight warmup pitches while Kiko Calero hurried to get loose.

And then Calero pitched like a guy who warmed up too fast, giving up two more runs than he allowed all of spring training--followed by Duchscherer, who pitched like a guy who wasn’t quite his usual self. A 4-run 7th inning and a second straight loss. You get the feeling there’s a “rest of the story” to the 7th inning stretch bullpen game of musical chairs. Stay tuned…

Meanwhile, be very afraid, as with an MRI detecting a bulging disk in Esteban Loaiza’s neck the A’s rotation officially includes Chad Gaudin and Joe Kennedy until further notice. That’s why it’s so important for the A’s to win starts by guys like Haren and Blanton, both of whom pitched well enough to win but neither of whom did.

The Rangers already look like a team with too little pitching to compete, and the Mariners are going to have trouble contending with a rotation that relies on Jarrod Washburn and Miguel Batista. The A’s need to stay within striking distance of the Angels until Oakland gets healthy, which is why I wish Rich Harden were pitching against the Angels this month instead of missing both of the upcoming series. On the other hand, I’m glad he’s pitching tomorrow. Remember that all night tonight, and repeat out loud as necessary: Rich Harden is pitching tomorrow.

Addendum...I meant to mention that I thought Crosby had an excellent approach each of his first three at-bats tonight, so kudos to Croz for a comeback of sorts in Game 2