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False Start For Duchscherer, Then A's Manage To Lose

Who had "zero pitches" in the Duchscherer Breaks pool? You win. Duke didn't make it out of the bullpen and Tyson Ross made an emergency start -- one which went better at the beginning, when Ross retired the first 11 he faced, than at the end when he allowed, to the next 3 hitters, an infield hit, a line drive single, and then a 3-run HR by Kendry Morales, and could not escape the 4th as an early 2-0 A's lead slowly but surely turned into a blowout loss.

Jack Cust's return was...interesting. He had 4 terrific at bats, first launching what looked like a sure HR but was caught at the wall, then scorching a line drive into Kendry Morales' glove, then drawing a walk, and finally lifting a high drive to LF for a long fly out. He also camped under a routine fly ball in the 7th and dropped it. Oy.

More troubling to me is that the A's, forever blind to Eric Chavez' decline and for 6 weeks deaf to cries from every rooftop to rescue Jack Cust from AAA, continue to be dumb when it comes to managing an offense that is already bad enough to begin with. Cliff Pennington opened the game with a double and Daric Barton bunted him over to 3B and that's just inexcusable. Daric Barton, in a lineup that strives to someday achieve mediocrity, has a .390 OBP for the season. You flat out do not ask him to make the first out of an inning, let alone the first out of the game. Pennington later batted with Landon Powell at 2B with nobody out and bunted him to 3B. Each time a very wobbly Ervin Santana was enabled to settle down in an inning where he had yet to show he could do anything on his own.

This is an offense that needs 40 outs, not 25. It needs its best hitters to bat and it needs to try to take any opportunity to put up a crooked number. There's a place for the bunt, in my opinion, for the stolen base, the "scratch out a run" mentality. But that place isn't "the first moment you can bail out the pitcher." The A's are being stupid with their roster, and stupid with their offense, and it ticks me off.

The Angels may be highly flawed, but they have two advantages. One is that they are the only team in the division not heavily balanced towards "all pitch, no hit" or "all hit, no pitch." The other is that they actually appear to understand how to play baseball, and I can't really say that about any of the other teams in the AL West. The Angels are still the team to beat, in my opinion, and until the A's decide to play smarter with their roster and smarter with their offense, I think the best they can hope to do is to tread water no matter what happens on the health front.