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Wrap: Game 123 - White Sox 13 , A's 1

It's safe to say that at this point Gio Gonzalez has quite a bit of work to do to become an above-average major league pitcher. Today, Gio's first 30-something-odd pitches were all 89-91mph fastballs on the outside part of the plate, many of them missing. He walked three guys in 1 2/3 innings before starting to really mix in some other pitches and even attempt to pitch inside. After his first "experiment" with an inside pitch resulted in a wild pitch and run scored, Juan Uribe took Gio's first (of many) really obvious mistake pitches (a hanging curveball) and drilled it for a three-run homer into the left-field bleachers. The flood gates opened up for poor Gio after that, as he gave up back-to-back homers in the 3rd inning to make it 3 on the day against him. All told, his final line was just atrocious: 3.1 IP, 8 runs allowed, 6 hits, 5 walks and 2 strikeouts. As if the A's offense could even attempt to make a comeback against that type of hole...

If I were the A's and Gio, I would take baby steps from here on out. He shouldn't try to fix everything at once (since there are certainly just too many things he needs to work on). He should take a few starts to really concentrate on using both sides of the plate with his fastball. Once he improves that aspect of his game, then maybe he can concentrate on throwing all his pitches for strikes in different counts. Then finally, as Nico suggested, he should start attempting to add and subtract some velocity from his fastball, because MLB hitters just get WAY too comfortable seeing the same 89mph fastball over and over again. Sure, that's a lot to work on, but what else has he got to lose for the rest of this season?

White Sox pitchers (mostly Javier Vasquez) followed the incredibly simple "Guide to Beating the A's" by pounding the strike zone and refusing to issue walks. A's hitters played into the scouting report by striking out 10 times and mustering only 4 hits on the day. Two of those hits, remarkably, came off the bat of Daric Barton who also collected the A's only RBI of the afternoon, driving in Cliff Pennington (who had collected his first MLB hit earlier in the 8th inning with a bloop single to right field that turned into a double on a misplay). So congrats to Cliff and perhaps Barton will start to turn things around after his nice afternoon...

Other highlights of the whalloping from the A's perspective were two fine, back-to-back defensive plays from Cargon and Crosby. Carlos robbed Junior Griffey of extra-bases with a running grab against the wall in right-center while Crosby barehanded a slow roller and threw-out speedy Alexei Ramirez by a half step one batter later. (It really makes Gio's outing look even worse when you realize that his defense actually played pretty well behind him).

And now the A's are off on another road trip. This particular one will be a 3-city swing through Minnesota, Seattle and Anaheim. With the data at-hand, what would be an optimistic projection for the 10-game trip? 2-8? 3-7? I'm just hoping for the baby steps. A few less walks next time out for Gio, a few more hits for Barton, a few less innings of Hannahan and two dozen less strikeouts for everyone else.