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Wrap: Game 45 - Braves 5, A's 2

Ugh, what a frustratingly all-too-familiar way to end a very tough road trip on which the A's went a combined 2-7 through three cities I'm sure we'll all be very quick to forget. The game started promisingly enough, as for the second game in a row the A's drew first blood with a solo homer in the first, today's courtesy of Bobby Crosby, who took a hanging, inside breaking ball from Jo-Jo Reyes and deposited it into the bleachers in left. But that's about where the A's luck ran out. Duchscherer clearly did not have his best stuff nor his best control today, and when a command-oriented guy with a fastball that tops out at 87mph can't locate his off-speed pitches and can't keep his fastball down, he usually gets hit hard, and Duchscherer was no exception today. He somehow lasted 5 innings, but surrendered 3 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks.

After Gregorio Petit and Jack Hannahan went back-to-back with a single and a double to bring the game to within one run at 3-2 in the 6th, Gaudin came on in relief and pitched well in the middle innings to keep the game close and within striking distance, going two full innings and striking out one without allowing a run. But Embree, in the latest bullpen meltdown, effectively pitched the A's totally out of the game by allowing two runs on three hits in the bottom of the 8th, leaving the A's with one-half inning to bridge a three-run deficit, which, of course, they did not do.

The team as a whole finished with the Triple-Double of dubious game stats after reaching triple digits in hits (11), strikeouts (10) and of course men left on-base (11). Just from that set of numbers you can draw a fairly good conclusion about why the A's only scored two runs today: for the most part the offense was getting men-on-base and were collecting hits, just not in that  particular order, and when they weren't doing those two things, they were striking out. So, ipso-facto, same-old-story, the "big hit" alluded the A's bats. Frustrating indeed, especially when simple contact with the ball once or twice today could've totally changed the complexion of the game (uh hem, top of the 2nd with bases loaded and NO ONE out, Frank Thomas in the 6th with 2nd and 3rd and one out).

On to the feel good story of the day: Gregorio Petit, "Gregor the Small, welcome to the show! A late game K is the only blemish on a stellar MLB debut performance for the A's newest middle infielder as he went 2-for-3 with a nice line-drive swing, collecting a single, double, walk and that strikeout. He also made a few nice plays in the field. Ellis is likely out for tomorrow's game so hopefully we'll see Gregor back out there to see if he can keep his bat hot. Gregor's glove has never been in question, and after leading the Rivercats in hits this season, it looks like he might be ready to contribute full-time at the major league level. If so, he'd be a marked improvement over Murphy as a utility guy, at least for now.

In other game action today, the Halos are holding off the Dodgers 5-2 in the top of the 5th. Go Blue Crew! And Eric Chavez continues his rehab as we speak in Sacramento, and he lead-off the game for the Cats and blasted a solo homer. That's two doubles and a homer for Chavvy in the past three days. His bat sure looks ready to return!

Well, let's hope the boys can get some home-cooking and learn how to put the bat on the ball when runners are in scoring position, since they definitely won't have many of those opportunities in the next few days with the talented Tampa Bay pitching staff coming to town starting tomorrow....