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Open Thread - Game 1 - Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants

Seriously. You should all go home and watch football instead of baseball after this truly embarrassing, horrible series put on by the A's, as they lose all three games to the Angels, and have now let the Angels back into the race. The A's came into the series having won 9 games in a row, and were up five and a half games. All they really had to do was win one game, to keep the Angels at bay; four and a half games behind. Instead, with the sweep, the Angels have all of the momentum, and if you think this series was painful, try repeating this series, plus one more game in Anaheim next week. Oh, after the A's face Felix Hernandez on Friday. Don't expect much more offense.

Everything that could have gone wrong for the A's today did, including a very scary moment when Brandon McCarthy was knocked out of the game after being hit in the head by a batted ball. The only good thing that has happened in three days for the A's (yes, it's been that horrible of a week) is that McCarthy didn't lose consciousness, was taken to the hospital, and there is a chance--and we'd better hope for it--that he'll be okay.

I'd say that the A's offense can't hit good pitchers, but despite what our announcers think, Dan Haren was a lousy pitcher today, who was helped out tremendously by really, really horrible at-bats by the A's. Thirteen strikeouts are laughable when your offense scores double-digit runs, but when your offense scores one lone run and leaves nineteen men on base? Not so funny.

The problem with the A's offense is that it runs on Reddick, Cespedes, and Carter and when they don't produce, it makes for a horrible baseball game, and long losing streaks. But as frustrating as this game was (and don't get me wrong; you wanted to throw things), we have to remember that there is no way the A's should be where they are, and we are playing meaningful September baseball, even if we're playing it really, really crappily.

The Angels got on the board first in the game, in the familiar pattern of building a lead they would never relinquish. A leadoff single and a two-out single brought home the first run, but a double, a sort-of-intentional walk, and a single plated two more. Staked to a 3-0 lead, the Angels dodged the A's weak, ineffective bullets for the rest of the game before finally breaking the game open in the ninth.

The A's managed to score one run in the third inning, when a week ago, they would have parlayed an Angels' miscue into four or five. With one out, Dan Haren walked Pennington and Norris back-to-back (see? lousy.), and Coco Crisp loaded the bases as the Angels threw the ball around and didn't get an out. Seth Smith singled in the run, leaving the bases loaded with one out. Josh Reddick dug himself into the predictable 0-2 hole and promptly struck out. I swear Reddick just wants to swing more than he actually wants to hit the ball. He's the anti-Daric-Barton. Cespedes grounded out to end the threat, and let Haren off the hook.

Brandon McCarthy didn't make it out of the fourth, as he was hit by Aybar and left the game. He's incredibly lucky to be even walking and talking after the scariest moment in baseball; taking a ball to the head. Blackley replaced him and went three innings, allowing nothing more than a hit and a couple of walks.

The A's left two more on in the fourth inning, and again butchered another golden opportunity in the seventh. Norris walked again (he would walk three times today), and Moss pinch-hit for the absolutely-useless Cliff Pennington. I seriously want to play Gomes or Moss at second base, under the theory that we can't keep having a pitcher batting in our regular lineup. A classic example; Derek Norris had an amazing at-bat in the fourth, finally managing to get himself on base via a walk. Pennington swings at the first pitch and ends the inning. At this point, he's better served just standing there and actively trying to walk, since he clearly can't hit a fastball down the middle of the plate. But I digress. Moss singled to put runners on first and third. ANY contact would bring the score to 3-2. Crisp struck out against youngster Nick Maronde and instead of pinch-hitting Gomes (who had to be better against ANY pitcher than Smith was against Maronde), Melvin allowed Smith to hit. Predictably, he struck out, and wasn't even close to not striking out.

Ryan Cook had a great eighth inning, but put two on to start the ninth, and an error by Norris loaded the bases. Balfour allowed all three runs to score, plus one of his own. Oh well. I'd rather have Balfour suck when we had zero hope of winning the game, even with a 3-1 score. The game was over with the rally-fail in the seventh, and everyone knew it.

So...deep breath. At worst, the A's will be 5 games behind Texas, 2.5 ahead of the Angels, and either tied with Baltimore and the Yankees for the Wild Card, or a game behind one or both of them as the evening games now are underway. We are still in the playoff chase, and we should regroup and beat Felix on Friday night. And then spend the rest of the weekend beating Seattle, and wondering how in the hell to turn things around against the Angels before the 4-game series Monday night.

An off-day is needed. See you back here Friday night! Griffin vs. Hernandez