Don't get me wrong, the A's did some important things right and a win's a win, but can a team play a whole lot worse than Tampa Bay did tonight? Here's how you get all of four hits and win:
In the 5th inning, with the A's leading 2-1, the Rays put runners at first and third with nobody out against Gio Gonzalez and for some unknown reason Joe Maddon (who I really like, in general, as a manager) decided it would be a cool idea to ask his leadoff hitter, Akinori Iwamura, to lay down a squeeze bunt. Zobrist, figuring that the best compromise between a "safety squeeze" and "suicide squeeze" is to wander gently about 40% of the way between third and home, was tagged out on what you might term a "slight overdose squeeze". Still not satisfied with losing a runner from third, Jason Bartlett then got picked off second.
In the 6th inning, Gio left after putting the first two runners on and Jerry Blevins did a great job of retiring the next three without allowing the runners to advance. No ridiculous baserunning blunders were made, however.
Unlike in the 8th inning, when Willy Aybar forgot how many outs there were and got doubled off of first on a lazy fly ball to left field.
What I love about baseball is that it is utterly impossible to predict. I didn't know that the team with the major league's second best record would resemble the Bad News Bears any more than I knew that the Rangers would score 17 runs tonight and lose.
The A's won because one of their three hits was a two-run HR by Bobby Crosby, because Gio Gonzalez, while wobbly at times (5 hits, 4 BB) was also outstanding at times (1 run, 6 Ks) in his 5+ innings, and because the A's bullpen (Blevins for 2, Devine and Ziggy for 1 each) was sensational - with Ziggy pitching only the 9th but still having to get a "4 out save" thanks to a Barton error leading off the inning. It's a little sad that in a one-run win that required 12 outs from the bullpen, a rested and available Huston Street never even warmed up, but it's also encouraging that the A's are able to rely on the three who pitched tonight in high-leverage situations.
So Gio Gonzalez has his first major league win, Ziggy's scoreless streak stands at 38 innings, the A's have a one-game winning streak, and Joe Maddon has to be wondering what the heck he just saw from his Rays. But thanks!