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Travis Buck and Company Secure Series Sweep

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Just a side note; there will be a Harden thread up tomorrow morning. I am deliberately keeping this a game recap thread about the Athletics who took the field tonight. They absolutely deserve it. 

Everyone still alive?

Well, nothing seems to come easily for the A’s in 2008; it seems like every game so far is a fight. But when all was said and done in Toronto, the newly scrappy and gritty A’s end up sweeping the series from a team who was fresh off sweeping the Red Sox themselves. And once again, for the third night in a row, the A’s refused to roll over and lose, using their pitching and their defense to hold off Toronto all the way to the 12th inning until their offense kicked in.

I can’t say anything more about the game without starting with Dana Eveland’s unbelievable performance, despite both Cleveland and Toronto implying that he is more lucky than good. I didn’t see that; he flat out rocked today.

Eveland’s line shows him pitching 6 and 1/3, with 3 hits, 3 BB, and 6 SO without giving up a run, and he and the A’s were in line for a win until Embree entered the game. Geren might want to think about changing his ‘auto-pitch’ setting to allow for more variation than “8th inning = Embree”.  Judging from the game thread, that might look like, “Tarmac in Toronto after plane takes off = Embree”.

Eveland pitched beautifully around a leadoff double to get out of the second, and after allowing the first two runners to reach in the sixth, he induced a ball to shortstop that Crosby chose to catch instead of drop for a potential triple play. (I’m not criticizing; he obviously wanted to be sure of an out.) But Eveland got out of the inning unscathed, and started the 7th, still owning the slim lead. After striking out Frank Thomas (the A’s pitchers K’d Thomas all four of his first ABs), Eveland walked Hill, who ended up at second as Overbay was awarded first on Suzuki’s catcher’s interference.

Enter the awesomeness of Santiago Casilla, who induced Matt Stairs into an inning-ended double play, preserving the A’s lead for one more inning. The lead disappeared as Embree struggled through the 8th, courtesy of an old friend/new foe Marco Scutaro, but Embree was able to get the game to Andrew Brown, who after some adventures of his own, was able to push the game into extra innings.

Joey Devine, who went to the trouble of leaving the Rivercats in Portland, I think going home for his passport and flying all the way out to Canada for tonight’s game, turned out to be the key for the A’s in the 10th and 11th, working out of two jams in two innings (helped by a game-saving diving play by Hannahan at third, who made up for his struggles at the plate) to secure the win, and after an A's typically scary 9th inning (that took place in the 12th), Foulke winds up with the save. 

Despite six hits and a walk, the A’s could only push one run across the plate until the twelfth, where they scored two. The A’s had a golden opportunity to add on in the sixth, with runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out, but Crosby popped up to the catcher to end the threat. All three runs were courtesy of Travis Buck - Doubles Machine!, who went 3-6 with 3 doubles. The Jays will not be sorry to see him go, but I think I can speak for all A’s fans when I welcome this Travis Buck to the leadoff spot.

Not to be overlooked is Suzuki’s play behind the plate; potentially saving the game with every splitter-in-the-dirt that he caught. He also prevented a couple of runners from advancing with his quick recovery on a wild pitch, and really held his own back there.

This is a good win for the A’s, who are not playing like a rebuilding team; they are playing like a major league baseball team. The Jay’s announcers admitted to not expecting much from the A’s from what they had heard in the off-season, and it’s nice to surprise a team for once.

The A’s have every right to be thrilled with this series; this team is not the team of last year, where any time the A’s were down by a run, the game was over. This A’s team is a team that will battle, and limitations and all, they are already 100% more exciting to watch.

Things continue tomorrow night, as the road trip moves to Cleveland. Game time is at 4:05 as Blanton tries for his first win against the Indians’ Sabathia.