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Happy Birthday To Me! Happy Birthday To Me!

Jamie Moyer "fired" a one-hit shutout for six innings, but Emil Brown's 3-run HR turned the tide in the 7th and Jack Cust added a 2-run HR in the 8th, as the A's and Joe Blanton walked away with the win. Final Score: A's 5, Phillies 2.

How ironic that a potentially depressing birthday game turned positively exquisite thanks to none other than my 2008 whipping boy, Emil Brown. Brown was brought in to platoon against LHP, wound up overexposed and regressed to the really, really mean. But now that the A's have Ryan Sweeney and Carlos Gonzalez in the every day lineup, Emil is in the role to which he is best suited: swinging hard against left-handed pitching and surprising fans - and even himself, apparently - by hitting pitches off the top of the wall NO, IT BOUNCED OVER THE WALL!!!

The main point I want to put out there today, though, is in regards to a complaint oft heard on AN: The practice of leaving a pitcher out there "so he has a chance to get a win." Blanton threw 119 pitches tonight, and as masterful as he was for the first 6 innings, a four-pitch walk to open the 7th suggested he might be out of gas in a game Oakland trailed just 1-0. I believe Geren stuck with Blanton throughout the 7th inning to give him a chance to still get the win if the A's rallied in the bottom of the 7th, which they did.

It may not matter to you or me, but I'll bet you it matters a great deal to Joe Blanton, psychologically, to be 4-10 instead of 3-10. Team wins need to trump individual considerations, but individuals can be affected by morale and in a stats-based game, athletes do use numbers to motivate themselves - things like "I can still get my record to .500 by the end of the season," or "I got a win for us at home," or whatever the motivator might be that keeps a player able to look forward instead of dwelling on the past.

Great job, Blanton, great job Geren, and great job Huston Street. Thank you Emil Brown and Jack Cust. Finally, if you haven't heard this stand-up routine before, take a moment to enjoy the great George Carlin musing about the difference between baseball and football. Like most of Jeff Nelson's ball/strike calls, George Carlin will be oft missed.