The A's are scuffling. No duh. But Zack Greinke ran over the A's lineup tonight like it was, well, the A's current lineup.
The only A's players who seemed to have any kind of chance against Greinke tonight was Suzuki, Sweeney and Gonzalez. And don't look now, ANers, but the A's now have two .300 hitters in their lineup in Sweeney and Suzuki. Even though Sweeney only got one hit tonight, he looked confident and had a hit taken away by old Sacramento farmhand Esteban German. Those three players, more than anyone else in green and gold (with the obvious exception of record-setting ANer Brad Ziegler), are the ones I look forward to watching on a nightly basis. Suzuki does a great job behind the plate calling games, but he's also fun to watch with a bat in his hand.
As for Sweeney, everything I see in him makes me think he's going to come crashing down. His swing often looks long and sometimes looks a bit too awkward. Still, he continues to be the guy in the lineup that I feel remarkably confident every time he steps to the plate. Then again, I'm the guy who never thought Travis Buck would ever go into a slump because of his incredibly level swing that helped his bat remain through the zone longer than most, so what do I know.
Finally, Gonzalez is just a machine. And he's still so young. He pulled a pitch tonight that looked like was six-eight inches off the plate to the outside. It takes remarkable skill to do that, especially how hard Greinke was throwing the ball tonight. The reality is that you can't do that on a consistent basis unless you are supremely skilled. Perhaps that double tonight off Greinke was a fluke, but I've seen Gonzalez enough now to think it most definitely wasn't.
OK, so I know I said finally, but I did want to say something about Dallas Braden. Braden is someone the A's have been high on for quite a while. Watching him tonight you can understand why. He seemed to be around 90-92 on his fastball most of the night (at least according to the Royals radar gun) and his changeup was working well. He also throws a nice slider. Granted, Braden is not going to be a guy that dominates lineups, but he kept the A's in the game and wound up with seven strikeouts along the way. These next few months are crucial for Braden's future with the A's. If he's to factor in their plans he has to perform and perform well. It's just that the A's offense didn't show up outside of the three guys I mentioned above, and that's a shame for Braden.