Whether the events are related or entirely coincidental, two things happened today that we just haven't seen. First, Bob Geren responded to a pop up that Ryan Sweeney didn't run out by pulling Sweeney from the game between innings. The message? Play hard or I'll find someone who will. Geren's statement was very public, highly visible, and arguably a long time coming for a team that has long looked lacking in energy and hustle.
The A's were trailing 1-0 at the time. By the top of the 7th, it was 2-0 when the A's came alive -- and then some. With one out Bobby Crosby, only in because Jason Giambi suffered a contusion when hit on the elbow with a pitch, singled and then Rajai Davis, only in because, well, Sweeney wasn't, launched a game-tying 2-run HR. Then Mark Ellis singled and Adam Kennedy hit the inning's second 2-run HR, giving the A's a 4-2 lead. Cabrera and Hairston followed with singles that gave the A's 6 hits in a row. And then Oakland put up a 3-spot in the 8th. In other words, they looked like a baseball team.
I've put up a poll for fans to weigh in on the practice of yanking a player from the game, in a way that becomes public, as a response to the player not playing hard, failing to hustle, as evidently happened with Sweeney.
Meanwhile, with any help Dallas Braden could have pitched 6 innings of shutout ball but settled for 6 innings of 2-run ball. In the 1st inning on a Ben Zobrist bunt, Braden's throw hit Zobrist when he was running inside the line and the ball caromed away, allowing Zobrist to go to second and eventually score. Zobrist should have been called out. In the 6th, a fly ball eluded the A's OFers for a leadoff double that would produce Tampa Bay's second run.
Ken Korach made a comment on the broadcast that if Braden had gotten more run support, and didn't have a 6-7 record (now 7-7) to support his sterling 3.13 ERA, he'd be heading to St. Louis this week for the All-Star Game. Run support doesn't say anything about a pitcher!!! If there were better choices, fine, but Braden's W/L record should be no factor whatsoever in the decision. That stuff just irks the heck out of me.
As does players being allowed to give anything but 100% of what they have to offer. My feeling? Geren didn't embarrass Sweeney, Sweeney embarrassed himself and got called on it. Your thoughts?