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Open Game Thread - Game 32: A's vs. Rangers

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It will be really interesting to see how this (mostly) young team rebounds from a game last night that even eternally-optimistic manager Bob Geren unequivocally labeled the "worst performance of the year." In fact, the A's defense has been so bad to start this season (2nd in the league in fielding percentage and errors) that Mychael Urban intimates that it was even a prime talking point in a 25-minute post-game summit held between Geren and Beane last night . I doubt that, with the team over-achieving so far and his 2009 option already exercised, that Geren's job is at all in danger, but nevertheless, if I were Beane, I'd be putting some heat on first-mate Bobby G to find a way to plug those holes in the gloves, lest more winnable games fall through the cracks.

It's likely that the Super Lineup might again be employed tonight against 26-year old former top Ranger's prospect (and left hander) A.J. Murray, who was just recalled to start this game in place of injured starter Jason Jennings. Murray has battled his way back from two season-ending surgeries in recent seasons to once again make himself relevant to the Texas organization. The A's have pretty much had their way with Murray when he's pitched in relief for the Rangers in the past, saddling him with a 7.11 career ERA versus the Green and Gold in just over 6 innings. However, Murray has pitched fairly well to start this season down in Triple-A, going 2-0 with a 4.18 ERA and a 24-9 K-BB ratio in 6 games started over 28 innings. And, perhaps more importantly, throughout his career Murray has constantly been compared to former Ranger stalwart and resident media-abuser Kenny Rogers, who is something like 99-1 with a career ERA of 0.075 at the Oakland Coliseum. So, beware if those comparisons prove at all apt tonight...

On the other side of the box score, Chad Gaudin will look to continue his streak of hot pitching for the A's. Unfortunately, Gaudin does not have great career stats against the Rangers, going 2-5 with a 6.13 career ERA, although two of his most lopsided performances against Texas (12 runs allowed in 11 innings) occurred in the second half of the last season, when he was struggling against everybody and also battling injuries.

- Another thing going for the Rangers is Milton Bradley, who's volatile nature, immense talent and personal animosity towards Billy Beane combined last night, powering him to 3 hits. The guy just scares me, especially after seeing what he can do when really motivated (2006 ALCS anybody?).

- On the plus side, the A's defense should improve from the get-go tonight as Mark Ellis will return to the lineup and the keystone to start the game, while Rajai Davis should be in center field and a much more nimble and spry pitcher will be on the mound in Chad Gaudin.

*I will be unable to watch the majority of the game tonight, so I am going to schedule another Game Thread to automatically open at 7:45pm...so switch over to that thread at your leisure/if necessary.