The A’s actually won a game in Arlington! Pop the champagne everyone, the A’s avoided the sweep at the hands of the best team in baseball! I figured this game was the biggest mismatch of the series as the A’s figured to be baffled by the endless and filthy reportoire of Rangers starter Yu Darvish and at the same time journeyman Travis Blackley would succumb to the offensive pressure of the Rangers lineup. Well, one of those two things happened tonight. The A’s despite scoring 3 times aganist Darvish and handing him his 5th loss of the season did strike out 11 times. What was the key to tonight’s win? Simple. The A’s didn’t score first. The 3 losses in this series were all due to heartbreaking comeback wins by the Rangers, and you can’t have a comeback if you aren’t losing right? Right.
TURNING POINT: The bottom of the 8th inning began to show signs of the horrors the A’s had experienced the last 3 nights in Texas as the bullpen looked poised to give up another lead. Grant Balfour surrendered a leadoff single to Yorvit Torrealba, and after pinch hitter David Murphy flew out to left Ian Kinsler reached on an error by 3B Brandon Inge (his 3rd in 3 games). This miscue cracked open the door for what could have been another back breaker delivered by the Rangers. After a flyout to right field moved Torrealba to 3rd with 2 out, Josh Hamilton strode to the plate looking to do some major damage. Bob Melvin played a gutsy card and brought in the lefty Jerry Blevins in perhaps the most crucial moment of the game. At this point the A’s fans watching who remained conscious had to be having heart palpatations at the thought of watching another soaring home run off the bat of Hamilton put the Rangers in the lead for good yet again. It was not to be, after getting behind 2-0, Blevins fed Hamilton a steady diet of sliders and got the new All Star votes record holder to pop out harmlessly to Cliff Pennington to end the threat.
ON THE HILL: I don’t exactly know how Travis Blackley is doing it, but he is looking like he belongs in the Major Leagues right now. I don’t know if he’s just riding the hot streak of his life, or if he had some sort of baseball epiphany that turned his whole career around, but what he’s doing on the mound is working for sure. Blackley pitched 7 strong innings while scattering 7 hits and allowing just the single run, he walked no one and struck out 3. Grant Balfour got into trouble that wasn’t entirely his fault, and that kept him from pitching a full inning, but he did add 0.2 innings of scorelss ball to his stat sheet for 2012. Jerry Blevins had the extremely important 0.1 inning, retiring the only batter he faced. Ryan Cook who as we all know was chosen as the A’s lone All Star Game representative in Kansas City this year locked down the save in true All Star form, retiring the side in order for his 7th save since becoming closer.
AT THE PLATE: Remember Brandon Moss? Many caught up in the newfound ground swell of support for Chris Carter after his productive start may have already forgotten about him. He saw fit to remind everyone with a power display of his own, giving the A’s an important insurance run with his rocket home run, his 8th of the year. Nobody in the A’s lineup registered more than 1 hit, with Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick, Yoenis Cespedes, Seth Smith, and Derek Norris each accounting for the rest of the A’s 6 hits. Cliff Pennington meanwhile slips closer and closer to the dreaded Mendoza line with his batting average sitting at .204.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The A’s head back to Oakland for a 3 game set against the very interesting Boston Red Sox starting tomorrow night, more on that in a moment though.
The rosters for the 2012 All Star Game were announced today and as I mentioned earlier Ryan Cook was selected as the lone member of the Athletics this year. Many believe Josh Reddick was more than deserving of a spot on that roster, and with injuries he may still get that opportunity, I believe his absences from the roster is a major injustice and a slight to the Athletics organization. Anyone who believes Reddick isn’t deserving of that type of recognition simply isn’t watching the games, Reddick has taken over this team with his play on the field, his leadership, and his overall attitude. While I don’t expect players to make the All Star team based on leadership qualities, I think a guy who is number 7 in the AL in WAR and is in the top 10 in home runs is considered a major snub if he’s not selected to be an All Star. All that said, I can’t argue with Ryan Cook going because despite his walk rates, he’s been pretty darn good all year. So congratulations to Ryan Cook, do us all proud in KC. Although I won’t watch on account of the San Francisco Giants fans bastardization of the whole voting process, I’ll be sure to check the boxscore at some point.
Back to the schedule that remains between now and then, the A’s and Red Sox tangle tomorrow night at the O.co Coliseum as Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-2, 4.91 ERA) takes on studly rookie Jarrod Parker (4-3, 2.57 ERA). Matsuzaka has to still be shaking the cobwebs loose after returning from Tommy John surgery, so this is a perfect opportunity for the A’s to get back on a little win streak. I expect Josh Reddick to show his former team just what they gave up when they decided he was nothing more than a 4th outfielder.