This game could have been amazingly frustrating.
And it almost was. The A's actually had more hits than last night, with a grand total of 16, but almost threw the game away several times. Half of their hits came in the first three innings against a very ineffective Felix Hernandez, but the A's only managed to score three times. The rest of the game was a tense, taut affair, with both teams bending, yet not breaking.
Sheets wasn't all that great, but he was reasonably effective, lasting 6.2 innings and allowing 4 earned runs. His control was a little off all day, but he managed to deal with it. He also flashed a sharp curveball, and was able to strike out 5. I'm not sure what's gotten into Rob Johnson, but the otherwise punchless (.158/.300/.246) catcher managed to hit his second home run of the year, both off of Sheets. This one was a laser that hit the plastic "oaklandathletics.com" sign next to the BBQ Terrace. Rajai didn't look happy.
Bob Geren allowed Sheets to start the sixth inning, and while he didn't revert to the Ben Sheets of Toronto, he was just bad enough to give up the lead, allowing two runs on a Casey Kotchman single. Geren proceeded to let Sheets start the seventh. The critical error here? He didn't have anybody warming up in the bullpen. Sheets labored through the seventh inning but performed fairly well, racking up two strikeouts. Unfortunately, after an intentional walk of Ichiro Suzuki, Chone Figgins hit a bloop single to left field, which scored the go-ahead run.
Brandon League was extremely wild today, and he eventually cost his team the run, possibly in more ways than one. In the ninth inning, he launched a sinker that bounced in the dirt and came up right at Rob Johnson's groin, pausing the game for several minutes. Johnson was clearly aching, but he remained in the game, and in the next two innings of work allowed a stolen base, an advance on defensive indifference, and he failed to catch a wild pitch that nearly brought Cliff Pennington home to win it. League's control was clearly nonexistent, but you have to wonder if a fresh catcher would have stopped the wild pitch from bringing the winning run to 3rd base.
Kurt Suzuki then laced a groundball up the middle past a diving Matt Tuiasosopo, and the A's earned their first sweep of 2010. What more could you ask for?
Detroit comes to Oakland tomorrow night at 7:05 PM for another two game set.