Why is Lenny DiNardo back on the team? For nights like tonight.
And the scary thing is, his presence on the 25-man roster may be an acknowledgement that the front office foresees more nights like tonight in the second half of the season.
Greg Smith lasted only 3.2 innings, walked five, and allowed six runs as the Yanks overwhelmed the A's in the first game of a three-game series at Yankee Stadium.
DiNardo came in and threw a scoreless bottom of the eighth in a game the A's had been out of for a while. And as the league gets a few more cracks at Smith, Eveland,Gallagher, Dallas Braden (starting in place of Blanton on Tuesday), and WhoeverReplacesDukeWhenHe'sTradedNextWeek, it's easy to foresee DiNardo and his long relief innings being needed more and more as that crew exceeds their previous career highs for innings pitched.
Smith entered tonight having allowed 10 homers all season - all to right-handed hitters. Robinson Cano became the first lefty to hit a bomb off him when Smith hung a slider to the Yanks' second baseman in the bottom of the third, making the game 4-1.
An inning later, Smith recorded the first two outs of the inning...then allowed five straight runners to reach and was chased. He could've been out of the inning with no damage if Emil Brown had come up with a tough catch in left field off the bat of Bobby Abreu with Jeter running from first. But the ball glanced off of Emil's glove and went to the wall for a "double". Brown then short-hopped his cutoff throw to Crosby, and Crosby one-hopped a strike to the plate that Suzuki dropped as Jeter came streaking toward him.
Almost comically, Crosby was awarded an error for the play, which I'm describing in such detail because the boxscore won't show that Crosby actually played it beautifully. If anything, you could almost ding Emil twice on the play - once for not coming up with a ball he got his glove on, and again for a bad throw to Crosby.
When Suzuki dropped the ball, it made me wonder if he was was at all affected by the memory of the first inning, when A-Rod drilled him on a play at the plate to end the inning. The last out of the first was on a Robinson Cano single to right field, as Ryan Sweeney uncorked a perfect strike to the plate, A-Rod decked Zooks, and Zooks held on.
As for the rest of the game, Blevins, Brown and Lenny D all threw scoreless innings, while Diamond Dallas Braden gave up a solo bomb to A-Rod to finish the scoring for the Yanks.
The A's recorded nine hits, but to me a key stat was the fact that they didn't walk once at the plate. This further shows the biggest problem with this A's offense: If a good major league pitcher hits their spots, and throws strikes, the A's offense can't do any damage to them. Of the nine hits, only one for extra bases - a double by Ellis to lead off the game, and he ended up being the A's only run.