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A's Hitters Adopting The Futile System

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Final Score: Blue Jays 1, A's 0

And you were worried about the starting rotation. Dallas Braden turned in a brilliant performance, surrendering just one run - otherwise known as "the run" - in 7.1 innings, locating his fastball, pulling the string on the changeup, and looking Moyer-like in controlling the bat speed of a hot Blue Jays lineup.

The tops of the innings, however, did not go well. The A's best scoring chance - and really their only threat of the day - came in the top of the 3rd, when Mark Ellis led off with a single and one out later Ryan banged a double one hop off the wall in right-center field. Opinions differ on whether Mike Gallego should have sent Ellis, but I maintain that it was a blunder to send Ellis on a ball that caromed quickly back to Wells, who fired the ball back while Ellis was only halfway to third. Aaron Hill's relay was 10 feet up the 3rd base line, yet Ellis was still tagged out easily. Orlando Cabrera followed with what would have been sac fly to right field.

I'm not holding Gallego responsible for every bad thing that happens on the bases around third base. Ellis' failure to go back to tag on the last homestand, and Sweeney's inexplicable paralysis on Cabrera's ground ball yesterday, certainly are the fault of the runner, though you would hope the third base coach had given the usual "going on contact" reminder. All I can say is that an alarming number of blunders are occurring around third base so far this year, and around all the bases really. The A's need to be a smarter baserunning team than they have been the first two weeks of the season.

As for the offensive lack of offense? Shades of 2005, when a young rotation (then Haren, Blanton) had its Cahillesque and Outmanesque struggles but the lack of offense was what got the A's off to such a poor start. That team suddenly started hitting at the end of May, never looked back and had an incredible stretch of playing .800 ball for two months. Don't count on a 60-day stretch of .800 ball this year, but this division is shaping up to be so weak that whenever the A's start hitting they have a great chance to put themselves in the driver's seat. Braden's efforts so far this year, along with Anderson's maturity and Cahill's potential, can only serve to highly encourage even the most frustrated fan.

The bottom line is that the A's are ill-equipped to handle left-handed pitching, especially with Nomar unavailable, and they will see two more lefties (Pettitte, Sabathia) in this remarkable and ill-timed series of lefty opponents. Perhaps as they establish their "identity," Oakland needs to further fortify their right-handed hitting. I would favor swapping the mistake-prone Rajai Davis for Chris Denorfia (off to a .333/.400 start in Sacramento) as a starting point.

Hang in there, folks. It's a long season, and if the A's top 4 starters continue pitching this well it will be a longer season for the rest of the AL West.