Greg Smith tossed 6.2 IP of shutout baseball and the A's scored three runs off of A. J. Burnett despite Burnett's 10 Ks in 5.2 IP. Final Score: A's 3, Blue Jays 1.
It continues to be rather remarkable how dependable the A's starting pitching has been. While A.J. Burnett was racking up 10 strikeouts in less than 6 innings, Greg Smith was doing two things Burnett could not accomplish: stop the running game and keep the other team from scoring. A few specific thoughts on the game:
- I have really appreciated Bob Geren's handling of the offense, including his willingness to combine good old fashioned "don't run into too many outs" conservativeness with a new-to-the-A's aggressiveness under the right circumstances. Tonight the A's obviously felt they could run on the combination of Burnett and Barajas, and saw that A. J. was not easy to hit, and Oakland stole three bases early, with Emil Brown's steal of second leading to the game's first run when the throw caromed into short left field allowing Emil to come all the way around to score. Sure, attempt #4 (Suzuki) resulted in an out, but the A's used the risk-reward game of running well tonight, just as Geren has judiciously used the 3-0 green light and the hit-and-run to keep the opposition honest.
- I also thought Geren won the cat-and-mouse game when he left Alan Embree in to face a couple righties (one of whom, Mench, did single home the Jays' only run), because he avoided a matchup of Foulke vs. Stairs, where Stairs would have represented the tying or go-ahead run. The A's almost avoided having to face Stairs as the tying run at all (damn you, Pesky Eckstein), and I'll take Barajas and Menc, batting in key situations, over Stairs anytime. Good move, or non-move as the case may be.
- Scutaro's at bat leading off the 9th was key, as off the bat it looked like extra bases, but Raj Davis ran it down and made it look easy. Davis may not hit much but he is a terrific OFer who combines great speed with an ability to get a Kotsayesque jump on the ball. I'm not sure if Ryan Sweeney makes that play (depends partly on how he's positioned), but when the A's have Davis in CF and Sweeney in RF they are suddenly very solid defensively.
- The only downer: Frank Thomas, leaving the game with a "slight strain in his right quadraceps" on his 40th birthday. I can relate, as right around my 40th birthday, the "off" switch seemed to be turned on my body, changing it from agile, nimble, and quick to recover...to Dr. Earl Holloway meets Dr. Jack Kevorkian. Get better soon, Frank, and a message to those of you in your 30s: ENJOY IT.
Anyway, if you're going to have a stretch of going 2-9, the best way to do it is to follow it up with 5 wins. Harden vs. Halliday tomorrow night - Yow.