He's not the most popular guy on AN, but Bob Geren pushed a few buttons that worked out very well Friday night.
Emil Brown led off the ninth with a pinch-hit double, and Kurt Suzuki eventually followed with a two-run, pinch-hit, walk-off homer to left off D. J. Carrasco to give the A's a 6-4 win Friday night against the White Sox in the series opener.
Geren also trusted Huston Street to pitch in a high-leverage situation with the score tied at 4, and Street rewarded him with a scoreless top of the ninth to pick up his third win of the year.
Suzuki's bomb was just one of a shocking FOUR HOME RUN output by the A's Friday night. Jack Cust hit two home runs, upping his season total to 22 and his "slash" stats to .231/.377/.446 for '08 (an .823 OPS). Mark Ellis added his 11th homer as well, one of two the A's hit off Octavio Dotel in the 8th inning. Dotel has been absolutely awesome this year, with the only blemish on his statline being the six homers he'd allowed in relief entering tonight's game. Kudos to Ellis and Cust for exploiting Dotel's penchant for leaving the ball up (I guess some things haven't changed since '04).
In other offensive highlights, Big Hurt had two singles and scored a run, and left fielder Eric Patterson had a hit, a walk, and stole a base in the lead off slot.
Dallas Braden continues to prove that he's learned how to pitch, lasting seven innings against a good lineup despite lacking outstanding stuff. He allowed three runs in the first but settled down and held the White Sox scoreless the rest of the way, throwing 55 strikes in his 89 pitches. In his last three starts, he's only walked three hitters. He'll always be a guy who needs a great defense behind him to succeed, but I appreciate his ability to hit his spots, especially in contrast to the control struggles of Gallagher/Smith/Eveland at times this year.
But the hero was Suzuki, who only had to score pinch-runner Cliff Pennington from third but instead opted for something much more dramatic. The ChiSox outfield was almost comically drawn in to prevent Pennington from scoring, and when he hit it, left fielder Carlos Quentin barely even turned around as the ball soared over his head a good 130 feet behind him.
Zooks flipped his bat and knew it was gone the moment he hit it, and it was a wonderful moment for a team that has had far too few of those since the All-Star break.