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A's Win 5-1

Greg Smith survived a shaky, six-walk outing and the A's took advantage of a typically subpar Barry Zito to win 5-1 Friday night in the series opener at AT&T.

Several talking points tonight:

1.)  Smith walked to Zito to start the fifth and eventually walked the bases loaded with one out.  With Molina and Rowand coming up, Gaudin in the pen, and the offensively challenged A's nursing a 3-1 lead, you could've argued that it was time to take the lefty out.  But Smith rewarded Geren's faith by getting Molina to fly out and Rowand to strike out on a pitch six inches off the plate.

(I thought that was an important subplot to tonight's game - the Giants aren't a patient lineup.  The way he pitched, Smith wouldn't have gotten a win tonight against a patient lineup.)

I understand Geren's decision there, even if it goes beyond winning today's game.  It's important to build player morale and trust.  Pehaps he had more to lose long-term by taking Greg Smith out there than he had to gain by winning tonight.

2.  Mr. Do Everything Jack Cust recorded 2 sac flys, an infield single, and a pair of sparkling defensive plays tonight.  After the game Geren announced that Rajai Davis and Cust will now trade roles and Cust will be entering in the seventh inning to pinch-run and play a flawless CF.

3.  The sprinklers went off while Street was pitching in the ninth, halting Huston mid-pitch.  Really, Brian Sabean?  Have we resorted to  doctoring the field of play?  Tomorrow the lights will be mysteriously going off mid-pitch while the A's are batting.

4.  Omar Vizquel stole home on Greg Smith and, let's face it, it was awesome.  We can smile about now that it's over and the A's won.  In reflection, I think that this was foreshadowed in Smith's last start.  Players are now stealing bases on Smith by timing his cadence.  He's too predictable.  He puts his head down right before coming set, and (often/always?) keeps it down until coming home to deliver the ball.  The bigger problem, though, is he doesn't alter the timing of that routine, which allows runners to leave without having to react to him.  He's got this interesting dichotomy of being the game's best at picking off runners, but not good at preventing them from stealing.

5. I miss Gaudin in the rotation, and at this point, he might be a better starter than Blanton is.  I would love to see Blanton traded to the most pitching starved, desperate NL contender - Atlanta - and Gaudin return to the rotation.  Atlanta's trade for Tex  last year shows that they are in "all chips in" mode, so they should make every effort to make the playoffs this year.  Atlanta is weak in left field, and perhaps they could benefit slightly from having Emil Brown, too.  Could we get Jason Heyward in return?   Lillibridge too?  Sorry, I'm wandering off topic.  Gaudin performed admirably in relief, and Foulke/Street each threw a scoreless inning too.

6.  Barton is hitting again, and he's also emerged as an outstanding defender.  Several awesome plays tonight.