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Open Thread: Game 24 - A's vs. Angels

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Things have been pretty rough in A's-land during their latest stretch against AL West teams. To recap so far:

* a split in Texas that probably should have been two wins, plus a rainout

* dropping two of three in Seattle that probably should have all been wins

* a lethargic loss at home last night to the Angels

Shoulda, coulda, woulda. These three things fit the early 2009 A's well so far. Matt Holliday shoulda hit better. If he did, the A's woulda been doing better. The A's coulda been healthier. If they were, they woulda been doing better. The starters shoulda been pitching deeper into the games. If they were, the bullpen woulda been more rested. And so on.

The facts: the A's have a number of injuries again. Some (Chavez, Garciaparra, Casilla, even Duchscherer to an extent) shoulda, coulda, woulda been expected. Young starters are struggling. In the cases of Cahill and Anderson, it shoulda been expected when neither of them had pitched much past Double-A in the minors. They woulda had more time in the minors if not for other issues (injuries and trades depleting the starting rotation). Outman's kind of an enigma so far. Eveland is Eveland, and he'll be starting tomorrow in Sacramento after this afternoon's news. Happy Happy Joy Joy.

(I wrote the "Happy Happy Joy Joy" part this morning. I think it still works here.)

The starters have thrown the fewest innings in the majors. They've reached 6 innings or less in eleven consecutive games, and of their 23 games so far the starters have gone 6 or more only 9 times (Braden 3/5, Anderson 2/5, Cahill 2/5, Eveland 1/5, Outman 1/3), really taxing the bullpen. Even though the 'pen has pitched exceptionally well overall, this is a trend that absolutely must be reversed as soon as possible. Braden is averaging 6 innings a start. Anderson's at 5.6 and likely would be around 6 if not for the blister problem, but Cahill (5.2), Eveland (4.9) and Outman (4.8, helped greatly by Sunday's start, which of course ended up going 15 innings anyway) aren't lasting deep enough into games to give the 'pen a break. This must change, and soon. Also, if you put any stock into the idea of a "quality start" (min. 6 IP, no more than 3 ER, though it has its flaws), the A's have just 8 (Anderson's first start saw 5 ER in 6 IP).

Tonight Braden tries to get the team back into the win column, facing Shane Loux. He's taken the mound against the A's twice (once in 2003 with Detroit, once last year) but this will be his first start against them. Seems the A's either hit people hard in cases like this or hardly at all. Ideally we'll have a laugher in our favor tonight but realistically, well, the A's have taught me to expect both the expected AND unexpected.

First pitch is at 7:05. People at the game get a free blanket tonight. Those are almost as good as towels at soaking up the tears.


Lineup

Los Angeles Angels @ Oakland Athletics

05/05/09 7:05 PM PDT

Los Angeles Angels Oakland Athletics
Chone Figgins - 3B Ryan Sweeney - CF
Gary Matthews - RF Orlando Cabrera - SS
Bobby Abreu - DH Jason Giambi - 1B
Torii Hunter - CF Matt Holliday - LF
Mike Napoli - C Jack Cust - DH
Howie Kendrick - 2B Kurt Suzuki - C
Kendry Morales - 1B Travis Buck - RF
Juan Rivera - LF Bobby Crosby - 3B
Erick Aybar - SS Gregorio Petit - 2B