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Open Thread: Game 81 - A's vs. Giants

It seems like a long time since I've managed a Game Thread on a day when Joe Blanton is pitching. I kind of miss Kentucky Joe and I was ecstatic when he finally looked like the Blanton of old his last time out against the Phillies. There's no doubt that Joe Blanton's year has been a microcosm of the A's rollercoaster season thus far: at the beginning of the year, he was the Opening Night starter, a steady, consistent workhorse that everyone expected to be dealt by the trading deadline. Then he struggled, badly, against all levels of competition, lost the "Mr. Reliable" tag and whatever immediate trade value he had while aggravating the greater Athletics Nation into believing that a trade and/or an outright demotion from the starting rotation might be a good thing for him (and the team, since Gaudin has arguably been a better pitcher this season).

And yet, when all is said and done, Blanton's been right there to take the ball every 5th day, like he always has, and while his pitches have not been as crisp as year's past, his value to the team has remained strong. In a year when nobody was sure what to expect from pretty much everyone on the roster (save Ellis) Blanton has been the steady hand, ready to eat some innings (and some cupcakes). He'll take the ball today for the Green and Gold with some momentum from his strong last start and a couple of peripheral stats indicating that he might make another strong one today: on the year, Blanton has a 3.74 ERA at home (vs. 6.75 ERA on the road) and is markedly better during the day (3.20 ERA) than at night (5.00 ERA). He also sports a career 3.97 ERA in four games against the Gnats.

Blanton will be opposed by young lefty Jonathan Sanchez. This guy's been on a roll recently and on the year has an impressive better-than-9 K/9 rate (96 K's in 95 IP). That he's a lefty who is death on fellow southpaws (.585 OPS against & 29-5 K-BB ratio) shouldn't matter too much today as two of the A's best left-handed hitters (Chavez & Swooney) weren't going to be in the lineup today anyways, due to injury issues and will likely be replaced by righties E-meal and Raj Davis. Regardless, the A's will have their hands full with young Jonathan today, considering that Sanchez is just a notch below Lincecum talent-wise and we all know how much the A's struggled against him last evening.

The A's need this one guys and gals, as they could, with a "W" tonight and another Angels' loss, travel into Anaslime for the upcoming 3-game faceoff with a chance to take sole possession of the AL West lead by Wednesday afternoon!


San Francisco Giants @ Oakland Athletics

06/29/08 1:05 PM PDT

San Francisco Giants Oakland Athletics
Fred Lewis - LF Mark Ellis - 2B
Ray Durham - 2B Kurt Suzuki - C
Randy Winn - RF Bobby Crosby - SS
Bengie Molina - C Emil Brown - LF
Aaron Rowand - CF Jack Cust - DH
John Bowker - DH Carlos Gonzalez - RF
Rich Aurilia - 1B Rajai Davis - CF
Jose Castillo - 3B Donnie Murphy - 3B
Omar Vizquel - SS Daric Barton - 1B