Thanks to the deadly combo of Kurt Suzuki and Jason Kendall, the A's wound up winning the series in Houston. Man, what happened to Kendall? Was it the fact that he's hitting against the National League again? Maybe he just loves the ballpark in Houston? Or he just loves Crawfish?
Whatever it was, Kendall was huge in this series and it's nice to see. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate Kendall. It's just that he seemed like he was headed down the fast track to oblivion earlier this season. Perhaps the imminent threat known as Kurt Suzuki helped to light a fire like many have speculated. Oh and congrats to Suzuki, who netted his first hit at a critical juncture of the game.
Regardless, it wasn't a banner day for many of the Athletics. Chavez, despite the long ball in the first inning, had several chances to end the game. Kotsay, despite two walks and scoring a run, also seemed to have weak ABs when he had the chance to be the hero. And Go-Go Gaudin reverted to his 2006 form after I'd just penned a column about him (well at least partially about him) on FSNBayArea.com. He didn't really seem to have his control and when he was in the zone, he was getting hit and hard.
But the A's bullpen wound up really being the star of this game. 6 and 2/3rds innings of three hit, no walk ball. Course they pretty much had to use everyone in the pen short of asking Curt Young to warm up, but it keeps the A's strong June going. I'm not sure what it is every year that makes this team turn it on once April and May are gone, but it's remarkable. It's like counting on the sun rising and setting. You just know that the A's will start to win and make a push towards the top every time.
And where, oh where has my mint, still in the box Jack Cust gone? Did the league figure him out this quickly or did it just get to his head when he wasn't seeing nearly as many fastballs? He's seeing fastballs now and missing them. Perhaps the illusion is over and he's Chris Shelton? I'd like to think that he'll make an adjustment and not be a flash in the pan. It's been too many years for him to get the chance and then lose out. And maybe that's just the problem? He realizes that unless he performs and quickly, this might just be his last chance. I can't help but still root hard for a guy who has pushed for that long.
By the way, three news items that I hadn't talked about that are big that I wanted to mention here:
First, the A's signed Billy Beane and Mike Crowley to extensions through 2014, which is huge news for those of us who love watching this team continue to be competitive year in and year out. Congratulations to them both and a huge thanks to Lew Wolff, who is smart enough to realize that when you have a great thing going, you don't mess with it. There are a ton of executives in sports who don't understand that concept. I'm thankful that Wolff isn't one of them.
Second, Bob Geren is winning a lot of praise from his players as truly a communication specialist. Now, this all sounds great and I hope it remains true, but I think it usually takes time for players to truly form an opinion about their new manager. Remember these are delicate athletes with fragile egos who can shift on a whim. I personally think Geren has been a blast of fresh air but my opinion doesn't mean squat. Let's hope the players stay this way because I love the manuevers Geren has made on the field.
And lastly, from that same article, we could be seeing Rich Harden coming out of the bullpen by Wednesday. Then again, I'm not exactly holding my breath. Harden could slip on a banana peel on his way to the mound the way his career has gone. I'm wondering what his music out of the pen will be? Maybe Nine Inch Nails, "The Fragile"? Sorry if I come off as harsh, but I so badly want Harden to be a part of this team and my frustration as a fan just gets to me whenever I think about Rich. I mean the truth is that even when he is pitching, it's a stressful experience for me. I'm holding my breath every time he winds up into his delivery. And even when the ball is put in play as we know he's hurt himself fielding balls just as much.