So, for the first time in a long, long, LONG time, I actually jumped up out of my chair and cheered for the A’s like I cared as they scored three runs off Francisco Rodriguez in the ninth inning to tie the game. Unfortunately, that opened my cold, cold baseball heart just long enough to care about the bottom of the ninth.
I have an objection to the ninth inning pitcher, and I’m actually pretty angry about it. Kennedy sucks. Kennedy should be used when you are out of pitchers and the game is still going on in the twelfth. Kennedy is a giant white flag waved to Anaheim which said that our comeback was not important enough to actually try and win the game. The Angels should have beaten our best, or at least our second-best, and I don’t want to hear a La Russa-esque explanation for ‘saving’ someone for a situation that didn’t happen because you held back players.
You are on the road, Geren. Your job is to make sure that the Angels don’t score another run. You used the worst possible pitcher (even with matchups that you deemed favorable) to accomplish this, and you helped swing the A’s from an 8 ½ game deficit, where they could almost start the ‘what if’ rumblings, to a disappointing loss that put them over 10 back. I’m not saying that the A’s would have won the game sans Kennedy. But it was a virtual certainty that they would lose with him in the ninth. The A’s saw their last glimmer of hope for a competitive season go right out the window, and you allowed it to rest on Kennedy. Kennedy?
And in the "I’d like to lodge another complaint department", do you all remember the story of Dumbo? Small elephant, joins the circus, believes he can fly with the help of a magic feather? Loses feather, thinks he can’t fly, has to be told that he has the power, and it’s not in the feather?
You know what wouldn’t have helped the little elephant? If the radio announcer for the circus had repeatedly insisted that the feather was the reason for his skill and that he couldn’t do anything without the feather.
For all the joy I received in the first few innings from the hilariously bitter comments at Lackey’s expense, I really resent Fosse perpetuating the idea (which is no doubt in Blanton’s head already), that Blanton is a much better pitcher with Jason Kendall behind the dish. For the conspiracy theorists, the small sample size after the Kendall trade seems to lend credence to this, backed by Blanton’s own vigorous support of Kendall’s game-calling skill.
Not to go against the prevailing ‘good old days’ theory about how important a catcher is to a pitcher, but really...Suzuki didn’t give up eleven hits and five runs in six innings today; that was all Blanton. And lest we forget, the game that seemed to start Blanton’s recent slide, which included the now-famous Ichiro tackle, certainly showcased a really bad inning with the Blanton/Kendall battery. Kendall didn’t seem to be able to stop Blanton from giving up twelve hits and five runs over those six innings.
But that’s not even the point. The catching issue should be moot right now. Kendall is gone, and Suzuki is the catcher. Adjust accordingly. It does no one any good, least of all Blanton, to wish for anything different, and it actually may be detrimental to his pitching mental state.
Oh, and if anyone cares at this point, the summary of the game includes the A’s jumping on Lackey early, putting runners all over the bases in the first few innings. Donnie Murphy made his presence on the club known early, when he doubled in Marco Scutaro for the first A’s run (which is good, because I think the A’s are going to see a lot of both of them), and while Lackey proceeded to whine his way through the third, he actually walked Scutaro with the bases loaded to drive in the A’s second run. Piazza, continuing his torrid hitting against the Angels, added a solo homer to the cause and a huge single in the ninth as the A’s offense, after a few quiet innings, made it interesting against Rodriguez, who also did the unthinkable by walking in a run, giving our magical Marco one last shot at him, ultimately tying the game with a sac fly.
Unfortunately, today was one of those rare days when both Lackey and Rodriguez seemed...well...beatable, and the A’s just didn’t get the pitching to get the win. Not for the first time, I wish we could mix and match some of our dominant pitching performances that went for losses to help win a game like today’s. And I sure wish I knew what was going on in Swisher’s head right now, because he’s not right at the plate.
Taking two out of three from the Angels in a July series should feel better than it does. Unfortunately, the A’s are in a position where two out of three is no longer good enough to really keep them a part of this season, and they came so very close to shaving their third game off the standings in as many days.
The A’s head to Seattle, in search of making a dent in the race for second place, for a four game series, starting tomorrow.