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A's Do A Lot Right, But The Shutdown Inning Just Isn't There

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If you imagine that Dallas Braden responds to getting a lead by not giving up 4 runs or not giving up 3 runs, you can see a lot of positives for the A's today -- instead of a frustrating 7-5 loss.

In the top of the 1st inning alone, the A's did a ton of things right against Sergio Mitre. Following his single, Cabrera got a walking lead and stole second, where he scored on one of those "more than one base thingies" -- a double -- by Scott Hairston. Then Jack Cust, mired in a slump, got the 3-0 green light and singled, which was followed by a shot up the middle of Suzuki's bat. Good stuff.

Braden, whose lack of movement on the fastball and heavy reliance on the changeup seem to be catching up to him, gave up 4 in the bottom of the 1st, quickly turning a 2-run lead into a 2-run deficit. Bad stuff.

Then the A's started standing around and bouncing into double-plays for three innings. More bad stuff. But...in the 6th, from his perch atop a golden unicorn, Mark Ellis launched a 2-run HR off of (not on) Coke, as the A's took a 5-4 lead into the bottom of the 6th. Good stu--

Braden really hates leads, apparently. After settling down to toss shutout frames in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th, Braden gave up three in the 6th, including a two-run single from Derek Jeter. And if you didn't know any better you'd think Jeter had a terrific game.

It's amazing the lengths the world seems to go to in order to make Derek Jeter look good. His second time up, Jeter took a 3-2 pitch that replays showed split the heart of the plate -- I mean it just about passed through the pointy midpoint of home plate -- that was ruled "too down the middle, ball four." When Sergio Mitre fielded a comebacker and fired a throw to second that clanked off of Jeter's glove -- never bounced, mind you -- it was ruled "E-1." When he came up in the 6th, frankly, I was surprised he wasn't allowed to call for "slow baby bouncies." I really hate the Yankees.

Anyway, regarding Braden what has surprised me most is that I don't really see much of a cutter from him. With Springer, and with Bailey, you can see the movement; with Braden it's either very subtle or it's really not there for him. I love, adore, and highly respect the guy, but I'm not sure that he can replicate anything like his 1st half performance with only a straight fastball that he can locate, a changeup, and a curve. So I'm wondering what's up with the cutter, and why I'm only seeing a lot of straight fastballs these days from the Stockton warrior.