Two-out RBI's, double steals, ejections. These are words not normally associated with the Oakland Athletics, and yet, on this day they were words that described just the tip of the iceberg of the A's performance, as they captured a series win with a 7-1 victory.
Mark Ellis was the story of the game, and perhaps the entire series, as he went 3-for-5 with 2 singles, 1 double, 2 runs scored and a stolen base. He set the tone early for the A's offense, starting off the game with an excellent 8-pitch at-bat, exposing Andrew Miller's stuff for the rest of the lineup and eventually reaching on a line-drive single to left on a 3-2 pitch. I think Ellis has found a permanent home at the top of the order and I couldn't be more confident in him at that spot. He's just a ridiculously composed, professional hitter that can set the table for the A's offense.
Of course, Mark actually lost his composure in the 8th inning after home plate umpire Lance Barksdale made some very dubious ball and strike calls, resulting in a strikeout for Mark. Ellis threw his helmet and bat to the ground in disgust and exchanged pleasantries with Barksdale, thus earning the ejection. Geren continued the dialogue with Lance between innings and eventually got thrown out himself. You never wish for players or coaches to get thrown out, but when calls are that bad, you gotta love seeing normally-passive players care enough about the game that they would get fired up enough to get thrown out, and normally-stoic coaches back their players up with some fire of their own. The most memorable scene from the game for me: the moment immediately after Barksdale ejected Ellis, as Mark threw his arms up in the air in a "are you f*&@king serious!?" manner that you just don't see very often out of him or really anybody in an Oakland uniform nearly often enough.
As for the actual game, what else is new? The Duke mowed down the Fish for 7 2/3 innings, only allowing one run on 6 hits and striking out 3. He's now pitched enough innings to qualify for the league ERA title, which he currently leads with a ridiculous 1.99 overall mark. The A's offense was busy all afternoon, scoring in 3 different innings and using everything in their bag of tricks to do it. The offensive highlight came in the 6th when, with Ellis at 2nd and Cargon at 3rd, the A's pulled off the double steal with the Patrol Craft sliding into home for the run after Mike Rabelo fell for the ruse and threw to 2nd in a feeble attempt to get Ellis. Everyone was safe on the play and the A's padded their lead.
Andrew Brown and Chad Gaudin pitched 1 1/3 scoreless frames to seal the victory. With a day off tomorrow, hopefully the A's won't suddenly get cold and lose their momentum, since the combination of hot-heads and hot bats produced some fine Sunday afternoon entertainment and I'd love to see an encore on Tuesday night!