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First of all, a team could probably play worse than the A's played in the top of the 6th, but it wouldn't be easy. Start with a 4-pitch leadoff walk followed by muffing a two-hopper back to the mound. Then a "wild pitch" that makes you appreciate Kendall--or most any catcher, really--topped off by Shannon Stewart's "oh was I supposed to get in the way of that ball?" gaffe that turned one run into three-going-on-four.

The A's will finish April and May without having swept a single series of more than two games. This was a golden opportunity finally to string a handful of wins together, what with the Rangers owning the league's worst record and having been especially awful on the road, with Haren going tomorrow and with Mike Wood putting on two baserunners an inning in his quest to show why his ERA was over 7.00. DiNardo even threw a pleasantly surprising five shutout innings, yet the A's couldn't take advantage.

But it's worse than that, as the last 24 hours have not been kind to the Oakland A's. Perhaps it's the "May" in me, but the latest developments now have me more pessimistic than the return of Kotsay and Bradley have me hopeful.

Justin Duchscherer is not coming back tomorrow, which means the A's bullpen crisis moves from temporary to indefinite. The bullpen, as currently constituted, is among the league's worst; the A's could weather it for a week or two, but if this is the bullpen for very long Oakland is simply in trouble.

Further, Loaiza is--correctly, in my opinion--now opting for surgery to repair the torn meniscus in his knee, which means he will not be seen until after the All-Star Break. As for Harden, talk to me when he's throwing in a minor league game; until then, as Macha liked to say, "he's a non-factor". Which means the A's, for the foreseeable future, will be running "Joe Kennedy and someone worse" out there to start about 1/3 of the games. You cannot compete with the Angels this way.

What we needed was to sweep the Rangers, while looking forward to getting a key starter and a key reliever back soon. Or two out of three. Or one. As important as Kotsay and Bradley are to the team, pitching keeps you in pennant races and as bad as the A's offense is right now suddenly the pitching doesn't look much better. If this is the crew we're stuck with for several weeks, then Bob Geren needs to invest in some very, very good mirrors.