This is a game where I would have been angry beyond any reasonable measure had the A's lost, so I'm writing the recap with the calm that only comes with an A's victory; even if the win came without a big hit (or really, any hit) as the offense limps through yet another day, without the steady defense that we enjoyed last year (on a side note, had the A's lost, Kouzmanoff may have been left in Anaheim), and the win even came without our center fielder and our left fielder. Those last three magic outs as our replacement closer slammed the door on the Angels to salvage one game of the series may not have been season-changing, but it was sure welcome relief to A's fans everywhere.
Allow me to sum up. Tyson Ross deserved today's win in every possible shape and form. His brilliant seven innings (he threw only 76 pitches) gave the A's more than enough of a chance to beat Dan Haren. Ross walked one, struck out three, but mostly just got outs. Meanwhile Haren only pitched seven innings of his own because the A's offense is unbelievably terrible. Yes, they fielded the equivalent of a Triple-A team or the Pirates today, but Haren really did try to help them out in a couple of different innings. Their best scoring chance; two on, none out in the third (via a walk and an error) only elicited one run on a sac fly by Barton, but at least that run scored; it was all the A's would get until extra innings.
Meanwhile Balfour mowed down the Angels in the eighth inning, and the stage was set for a Fuentes save. The A's win 1-0, Ross gets the victory, we all head to Oakland happy. Right?
Enter Kevin Kouzmanoff. Not to project feelings onto other people, but I would say that it's a safe bet that Beane and Co. wish they had still tried harder to upgrade third base during the off-season. Mostly, I just feel sorry for Kevin Kouzmanoff, who made an error to open the ninth inning for the Angels; the run, of course, would come around to score and tie the game. The box score will show the runner being bunted to second base, but the truth is, the batter was probably hit by a pitch prior to the bunt, so it's not all unlucky for the green and gold. Fuentes blew the save and threw 29 pitches in the process, leaving him unavailable for another inning.
Not to worry, it's not like the A's would need a closer, right?
They did. Helped by another lousy play from an opposing team's outfield, Pennington opened the tenth with a "triple". DeJesus grounded out without scoring the run, but Conor Jackson recorded the RBI groundout. Up 2-1, the A's headed to the bottom of the tenth inning, bringing in the best option they had; Brad Ziegler, for the save. Ziegler promptly induced three ground balls from the three Angels batters (including a lefty!) for three easy outs (including one to Kouzmanoff!) and just like that, the A's win today.
Yes, Kouzmanoff is in the doghouse. Yes, Ross should be displeased with the lack of win. Yes, the A's offense continues to be crap-tastic. But the A's won today. And that's just gotta be enough.
Texas heads in for four, starting on Friday night!