First of all, I’m going to say it: I think Haren is the best pitcher in at least the American League right now. The A’s offense has somewhat hampered his win total, which used to be about the only thing that the baseball in-crowd noticed, but I’ve noticed a little change recently. Wins matter, sure, but if your ERA and WHIP are ridiculously low enough, people start to notice. When you consider that there are just not that many starting pitchers with an ERA under three, and Haren’s is comfortably under two, that’s going to raise some eyebrows. And when you look across the bay at the A’s ace last year, I can’t even believe we are lucky enough to have this pitcher, and I can’t say enough about him.
Haren pitched seven strong innings today, but fell victim to his one weakness; the long ball. He was touched for two homeruns and three runs during his outing, but he recovered nicely, and gave the A’s a chance to not only come back, but to get him his much-deserved ninth win as well.
After Jack Cust hit a very Cust-like homerun to pull the A's within one, obviously the key to the rest of the game for the A’s was in the bottom of the seventh. Trailing 3-2; Haren had thrown his last inning; the A’s already had the tying run thrown out at the plate...and somehow they put together a little A’s magic for the home crowd and turned a tough loss into a thrilling win.
After an infield single by Crosby, and an out by Kendall, Ellis battled until he was able to drop a soft single that sent Crosby to third with one out. As much as we all wanted Kotsay up in the situation with runners at 1st and 3rd, he refused to swing at a bad pitch and walked to load the bases, bringing up Swisher.
Swisher’s completely idiotic at-bat from last week was fresh in my mind (when he swung wildly at ball four on a 3-0 count and eventually struck out), but this time was different. He let himself walk in the tying run, bringing up Chavez with the chance for the win. Chavy did not pop up or strike out; instead he had a sac fly that brought in what would be the winning run.
Shannon Stewart put a ball in the seats for the emphatic insurance run in the ninth, but the game was over as Alan Embree, closer extraordinaire, nailed down the 'six batters up, six batters down' two-inning save.
And almost all was well in Oakland today, but once again the injury monster reared its ugly head. Bradley is still limping, and Chavy was pulled for Scutaro in the ninth, and we all know it wasn’t for defensive purposes.
In the 'I don't believe it' category, Rich Harden threw an inning today, and from all accounts, will join the team in New York. We shall see.
But we win the series, even the homestand, and head to New York to play the Mets on Friday, hopefully putting a little bit of pressure on the Angels to lose tonight. It would be nice to gain a game before this upcoming road trip.