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Open Thread: Game 98 - A's at Red Sox

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Fresh off dropping three of four to the Yankees, the A's (41-56) follow up with another four-game set in Boston (57-40), not the most pleasant road trip imaginable but at least they're out of the way back-to-back. On the other hand, if any ANers or A's fans in general are making a multi-day trip out of seeing the team in New York, Rickey's HOF induction, and a game in Boston, it could be a fun little vacation.

It's a strange scheduling quirk but this is actually the second time this MONTH the A's are in Boston. They lost two of three there just three weeks ago. Most of our memories should be good enough to remember the gem of a game Brett Anderson pitched to kick off the series, then came Dana Eveland's bad spot start (and loss) and David Ortiz taking Trevor Cahill deep as the key blow in the rubber game of that series.

Now the team is a little different in the post-Holliday era, the focus having shifted more toward finally seeing what some of the borderline players can do. Daric Barton may be headed to the DL because of a right hamstring strain suffered late in yesterday's game on a stretch at first base, but I was pleased to see him back in Oakland with Jason Giambi on the DL. There's really no good reason for Giambi to get much playing time the rest of the year since the team isn't contending. They're better off giving Barton the lion's share of the starts at first once he's healthy again to see if he can recapture what made him so successful in his brief stint in 2007. On the other hand, if he shows 2008 was the real Barton in the bigs, it will help the A's decide where to go from there much more easily.

Eric Patterson is up and playing in center field, though it doesn't look like it's going to do his arm any favors. At least it moves Scott Hairston back to left even if he's been iffy there as well overall. I want Patterson to play a lot the rest of the way. He has nothing left to prove in AAA, where he has shown he's too good to be kept there. Problem is, he's struggled to make the adjustment to Major League pitching. At the least, he needs consistent playing time to help answer the question surrounding him as a typical AAAA player, the kind of person doomed to be too good for the Minors but not good enough for the Majors.

I'd also like to see Travis Buck back and playing right field consistently with a combination of Patterson/Ryan Sweeney/Rajai Davis/Hairston manning left and center and Jack Cust DHing. I know the rumors have been strong that Buck isn't doing things the A's want him to, or he's saying things he shouldn't be, or his hair looks too good, I don't know. Point is - and this isn't new when it comes to the A's - to the average fan it looks like Buck is being jerked around left and right. They call him up just to let him rot on the bench and it's no wonder he struggles when he gets a few ABs here and there, leading to a quick return back to Sacramento where at least he plays. Hey, A's: let's make a decision one way or the other with Buck. Keep him in Oakland and actually play him, or trade him.

The Red Sox have hit a rough patch and fallen out of first place after dropping five straight before taking two of three over the weekend against Baltimore. They're now 2.5 games behind the Yankees thanks to that little nine-of-ten streak they're on since the break. In an effort to give a little more oomph to the roster, the Red Sox acquired Chris Duncan and Adam LaRoche and while ESPN's Buster Olney reports they're looking at San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez, right now it doesn't look like a deal is going to happen. So, we'll see what transpires over the last few days of July.

Probable starters for the series, the first three being 4:10 starts:

Tonight: Trevor Cahill (6-8, 4.50 ERA) vs. Josh Beckett (11-4, 3.42 ERA)
Tomorrow: Vin Mazzaro (2-7, 4.75 ERA) vs. Clay Buchholz (1-1, 3.72 ERA)
Wednesday: Brett Anderson (5-8, 4.32 ERA) vs. Brad Penny (7-4, 4.71 ERA)
Thursday: Gio Gonzalez (2-2, 7.75 ERA) vs. Jon Lester (9-7, 3.79 ERA)

All games are on CSNCA as usual, even Thursday's at 10:35 AM.

Go A's!


Lineup

Oakland Athletics @ Boston Red Sox

07/27/09 4:10 PM PDT

Oakland Athletics Boston Red Sox
Adam Kennedy - 3B Jacoby Ellsbury - CF
Orlando Cabrera - SS Dustin Pedroia - 2B
Scott Hairston - LF Kevin Youkilis - 3B
Jack Cust - DH David Ortiz - DH
Kurt Suzuki - C Jason Bay - LF
Ryan Sweeney - RF J.D. Drew - RF
Mark Ellis - 2B Adam LaRoche - 1B
Bobby Crosby - 1B Jason Varitek - C
Eric Patterson - CF Jed Lowrie - SS