With a lineup that just keeps getting more and more “makeshift” by the minute, the A’s banged out 17 hits – three each by Wes Bankston and Emil Brown – and beat one of the AL’s better pitchers in Mark Buehrle. If nothing else, you have to admire the A’s spirit in facing adversity.
Jack Cust showed signs of life, as the streaky Cust homered for the second day in a row (giving the A’s a 2-0 lead in the 4th) and got hits both times he made contact. Donnie Murphy continued to provide a timely spark with a pair of RBI hits and a sparkling play at SS while the game was still close. Kurt Suzuki’s bunt single, Ryan Sweeney’s “you wanna pitch to me?” RBI single following an IBB to Ellis, and Bankston’s two double, first-major-league-RBI night were among countless highlights on a night when the A’s looked, on paper, to be the underdog.
Joe Blanton was outstanding, tossing 7 innings on a season-high 119 pitches and limiting the heavy-hitting White Sox to a single run. During a stretch where 17-hit attacks figure to be few and far between, it would be huge if the A’s could get Blanton going. Apparently, his game plan was to mix up the speed of his breaking pitches the second/third times through the order, and the approach worked well. Meanwhile, despite his success against the rest of the league, Mark Buehrle is now 3-11 lifetime against Oakland.
One note, as the A’s had Ellis thrown out at the plate in the 3rd with the score still 0-0…In the past week, 3rd base coach Tony DeFrancisco has made the wrong call twice on whether or not to send Ellis, holding him up in the 1-0 loss to Lincecum and the Giants and sending him tonight. Along with the other contextual considerations, such as on-deck hitter, opposing pitcher, and number of outs, Tony D would be wise to consider strongly whether or not the outfielder does, or doesn’t, have to range to his left/right to field the ball. Fred Lewis had to range to his left last Saturday, which is why he had no play at the plate, while tonight Jermaine Dye was able to set up to throw as he fielded Sweeney’s hit – if Tony D pays closer attention to this factor in making his split-second decision, he is more likely to get the next one right. And it would be a good idea, because you wouldn’t know it tonight but the A’s are going to need every run they can get.
Final Notes...Congratulations to our own Brad Ziegler, who now holds the Oakland A's record by starting his career with 16 scoreless innings...Carlos Gonzalez left the game with a "tight hamstring," so look for Mirrors to start in the OF tomorrow (because we didn't sign Smoak).
BREAKING NEWS: Steve Chitren has just pitched a scoreless inning 18 years ago, extending his record streak to 16.1 IP, not 15.1 IP as widely reported by the media. Ziggy will have to get two more outs before he can make Oakland history.
Happy 4th of July! UPDATE: Happy 5th of July!