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Open Thread: Game 101 - A's at Rays

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After any win, it can seem like your team is invincible. After any loss, it's easy to wonder why they took the field at all, if their sole purpose was to waste your time and cause you to damage your surroundings.
The A's win yesterday, the first since Friday, July 11th, has us once again feeling positive - even if the standings show us battling more so to keep Texas out of second place than seeing us contending for first. Hoping to show that yesterday's single data point can be the start of a trend is Oakland's rookie left-handed pitcher Greg Smith, who brings a Blanton-esque 5-8 record, 3.79 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP to this morning's game, in hope for his own first win this month, having so far gone 0-2 with a no-decision.
Smith will be opposed by Tampa Bay's James Shields, who in his third year for the Rays is having another solid, if not impressive, season, sporting an 8-6 record, a 3.69 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. Most interestingly, Shields features a 104 to 24 K/BB ratio, meaning the A's "swing and miss" or "take and walk away" approach could be featured over the next three hours.
Looking to scratch out some runs for the A's in this last game of the roadtrip will be an A's lineup led off by the .300+ hitting Ryan Sweeney, and capped by the still hitless for his career Brooks Conrad, who will be filling in for Mark Ellis, with an 0-7 tally and 3 K's so far over the last two days. One hopes these are just rookie jitters and just maybe, he'll exhibit his strong potential today.
Good morning all. Shake off those cobwebs, and let's go A's!

Lineup

Oakland Athletics @ Tampa Bay Rays

07/23/08 9:40 AM PDT

Oakland Athletics Tampa Bay Rays
Ryan Sweeney - RF Akinori Iwamura - 2B
Kurt Suzuki - C B.J. Upton - CF
Jack Cust - DH Carl Crawford - LF
Emil Brown - LF Evan Longoria - 3B
Carlos Gonzalez - CF Carlos Pena - 1B
Bobby Crosby - SS Willy Aybar - DH
Jack Hannahan - 3B Shawn Riggans - C
Wes Bankston - 1B Jonny Gomes - RF
Brooks Conrad - 2B Ben Zobrist - SS