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A’s Rally Too Little Too Late

For a closer with 59 saves, Francisco Rodriguez sure doesn’t always seem like the lights-out pitcher that you would expect to be attached to that record, any more than the Angels themselves look like the team with the best record in baseball right now. In a game that looked like it would be an easy win for the Angels, the A’s were able to rally for all their runs in the ninth, taking the game to the wire; tying runs on base, before finally allowing the Angels the win.

The Angels got on the board right out of the gate in the first, as Teixeira singled off Outman to drive in the first run of the game. Outman would wind up with four K’s in his 4+ innings of work, but he was in and out of trouble from the start. I think he has shown enough to have a shot at competing for a starting pitching role at Spring Training next year, but it’s hard to get much of a sense of him as a pitcher in just four innings. He was saddled with the loss in today’s game, but really, the A’s offense during innings one through eight (and their “B” lineup) might be the real culprit. 

The A’s mounted their first threat in bottom of the third as Jeff Baisley picked a great time for his first major league hit, as his hit followed Hannahan’s to put runners on first and second with no one out, but three straight outs ended the threat, and it remained 1-0, Angels.

The A’s continued to frustrate the home crowd as they loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth, and as has been all too common this season, failed to score yet again; this time thanks to a double play (and a lazy slide from AN whipping boy Emil Brown) and a strikeout.

The A’s yanked Outman in the bottom of the fifth (leaving runners at first and second) in favor of Casilla. Remember when Casilla was a bullpen asset? He quickly proved that he was not nearly as proficient at getting out of trouble as Outman, allowing a base hit to make the score 2-0. And then things got even more fun; as Quinlan (on first base) ran halfway toward second, tricking the A’s into a rundown. Meanwhile, Torii Hunter (on third base) pulled off the steal of home. It was not the A’s finest moment, although I’d still give the Angels’ ninth inning last night the “How Not To Field” award for this series. 

The game remained close at 3-0 until the top of the seventh, when Keith “AN Wants Me to Leave Now” Foulke gave up back-to-back-back homeruns to increase the Angels’ lead to six. You would think that would be an unimportant footnote considering the game score at the time, but surprisingly, the Angels would need almost all of the runs that they scored.

With a 6-0 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth inning, and the A’s offense leaving runners all over the bases all day, it looked like the A’s crowd would be spared a K-rod appearance (as fun as last night’s was), but after the A’s mounted a last-gasp rally, the Angels sent out their closer to try to mitigate the damage.

Jason Bulger hit Chris Denorfia to start the inning, and then walked Crosby. Arredondo replaced Bulger and walked Pennington. Carlos Gonzalez (hi!) singled in the A’s first run, and Buck replaced Baisley and struck out for the first out. Then the A’s sent Cust to hit for Davis, forcing the Angels to bring in Rodriguez, who walked Cust to score the A’s second run. Cunningham grounded out, scoring the third, and Suzuki singled in the fourth run, bringing up Ryan Sweeney to pinch-hit for Emil Brown as the winning run.

That would have been a fun walk-off.

The A’s are playing much better lately, and they’re sure showing more fire than they did in August. Congratulations to Jeff Baisley for his first major league hit; we hope there are many more to follow!

The A’s take on Seattle this weekend; game time tomorrow is at 7:05. Only nine more games of baseball left for the A’s in the 2008 season; I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.