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Live Blogging: Rangers @ A’s Game 28

May 1, 2011

4:09PM PDT: Apparently Fuentes can only get right-handed hitters out when backed with a five run lead. I won’t complain. The A’s win! They return to .500, narrow the Rangers and Angels division lead to two games (the Angels beat Tampa Bay today and coupled with the Rangers loss gets them tied for first) so good work there. Gio Gonzalez looked sharp, bullpen impressed, bats were solid, no errors. Good day. The seagulls can now feast. Tomorrow’s game is a weird day game on a Monday but with how we play under the sun I’m more than happy with it. So A’s win 7-2 as they score early off Matt Harrison and never relinquish their lead and coast.

4:04PM PDT: Gets Moreland (as expected), gets Ian Kinsler (who swings at two ball fours) to get Fuentes out of his self-created trouble.

3:58PM PDT: Craig Breslow allows two hits to begin the ninth. They have Brian Fuentes warming in the pen and Bob Geren is headed to the hill. This still would not be a save situation – oh crap here we go he is putting Fuentes in. Ugh! What a stupid move. He comes in to face Mitch Moreland (L), but the next left-handed hitter he’d face after that is David Murphy. He only faces David Murphy if he fails to end the game in the next seven batters. What a stupid move. Look at the splits Geren! They have been that way for years! So so so so so stupid. Fuentes’ agent should be mad. Because use like this erodes his value and makes him look terrible. So frustrating. Let’s look at those splits again, I posted them earlier today but let’s rehash it anyhow:

vs. L .147 .268 .235 1.47
vs. R .333 .333 .500 4.23

3:46PM PDT: Pedro Strop in to “strop the bleeding” for the Rangers. I know it is pronounced as if it rhymes with rope, not stop so I guess we could say, Washington is giving the Strop to Tucker. Anyhow, he is in. The brief scouting report on Strop is that he can’t find the strikezone with a map. In 37 outings spread across the last three seasons he has 7.8 BB/9. The only reason this man still has a job is because he also had 10.3 K/9. I wonder how many of those K’s come from people being afraid of a guy who can’t locate his average 94.8mph fastball?

3:44PM PDT: Another fairly typical inning for Grant Balfour as he walks one and K’s one. Doesn’t seem like he does the 1-2-3 thing too often, yet with him unlike others you don’t sweat the guys on base. Sort of strange, but he just seems so intense that it is confidence building as a viewer, unlike other guys who have body language that makes you feel as if they fear they’re losing a grip on the game. In his twelve appearances this year he has only three 1-2-3 innings the last one coming Wednesday against the Halos.

3:28PM PDT: Josh Willingham who mere moments ago secured his 27th career stolen base, is scored from second by Kurt Suzuki. A’s lead 7-2. I like the stolen bases even from non-traditional threats because it keeps guys off kilter. Of course I don’t like being thrown out, but I think aggressiveness – smart aggressiveness – is very valuable.

3:26PM PDT: Barton needs to unload and runover Torrealba. What was that sissy slide well after the ball got to Torrealba? Man on third, nobody out. Can’t score him. Again.

3:22PM PDT: Wow, heck of an effort by Mike Napoli (who is a player I always have liked). Napoli running full steam from first falls into the dugout and it appeared as if he caught it. Barton then tagged to score from third (though given he left the field, he didn’t need to tag, I think he automatically scores if I understand things properly). Its ruled that he did not catch it. The irony being that if he caught it, a heck of an amazing catch, but the runs scores. So in a way it is good for him that he didn’t catch it, but in a weird way sort of unfortunate for the A’s that Willingham gets to see another pitch.

3:20PM PDT: A sloppy play there as Moreland misses the ball and Daric Barton runs around all the way to third. Not sure if this is a three-base error or a triple (my guess would be the former). If it is indeed an error, it is Texas’ third on the day. Only one of the six runs Oakland has however are unearned so they’ve managed to keep them from hurting them to a degree.

3:19PM PDT: On the Rangers side of the ledger, Bush is out and Ryan Tucker is in to pitch making his second appearance of the year (his Friday appearance here in Oakland was his only other one).

3:15PM PDT: Inauspicious start for Ziggy, as he hangs the frisbee and Ian Kinsler (one of my least favorite players in baseball) gets a double that scores Torrealba. Looks like Moreland could’ve scored but the third base coach was a bit conservative on the play and held him – which is fine by me as the A’s lead 6-2.

3:12PM PDT: And that’ll be all for Gio Gonzalez as Bob Geren makes the move to put in Brad Ziegler following a HBP of  Mitch Moreland. A good line on Gonzalez – though he has two runners left on base he is responsible for: 6 2/3 innings pitched, one run (earned), two walks and a hit batter along with seven strikeouts. His pitch count was 105, a bit on the high side with 64 being called strikes, so he wasn’t as sharp as his only two walks indicated but still good enough to get the job done.

3:02PM PDT: Perfect throw by Yorvit Torrealba nabs Cliff Pennington trying to steal second. Second dumb baserunning move of the day for the Green and Gold. Ouch.

2:52PM PDT: Michael Young (is he still demanding a trade?) singles to score Elvis Andrus on a hung curveball. Rangers are on the board but the A’s lead 6-1.

2:45PM PDT: Today is the 20th anniversary of Rickey Henderson breaking Lou Brock‘s record with his 939th steal. Unbelievable to think that twenty years have gone by. I remember watching that when I was ten years old. How much has changed since then? Coming off of a year when in 1990 the A’s and Royals had the highest payrolls in the AL and Henderson was traded from the Yankees to the A’s for a shot at playoff contention.

2:42PM PDT: Gio Gonzalez still has a shutout going along with five K’s through five innings. Control is better than we’ve seen with just one walk and a decent 76 pitches (49 for strikes).

2:33PM PDT: Inning-ending double play from Josh Willingham. David Bush really has settled in it seems. Not sure what I think about Willingham yet. I’m very hot-and-cold on him. Like today he strikes out looking with the bases loaded and follows it up with a GIDP. Yet past few days he has been decent with RISP. It’ll be interesting to see how his season shakes out. At this point I am pretty convinced I do not want him back next year. I know his strikeouts aren’t indicative of his normal K numbers (32 with a 36.4%) but he is 3rd in the AL in both those categories, only Ryan Raburn is ahead of him in both (he is 2nd in both categories) and Austin Jackson leads in K’s while Adam Dunn leads in K% – but regardless I think this just shows he is beginning his decline phase. Can’t imagine he’d re-sign for just a year – but that’s about all I think I’d want him for if that at all. Want a good year from him in 2011 – let someone overpay for the years following it.

2:17PM PDT: That was strange. Bush was given a ball for moistening his fingers with his mouth then grabbing the baseball. It was a missed call but for a second I thought Ron Washington was just arguing to get run from the game and light a fire under his team – or maybe spare himself witnessing a blowout? Weird to have missed a call on something like that, weird to have it argued so vehemently.

2:14PM PDT: Cliff Pennington continues the hit parade and drives in Matsui from third. A’s up 6-0. One of the questions I was going to pose for my questions for May was whether or not the A’s bats would heat up along with the weather. I suspected yes but let’s keep these 77° 6-0 games coming!

2:10PM PDT: Good work with RISP continues today – where was this last week? 4-for-7 with RISP now that Hideki Matsui doubles to left field scoring Zuk. Athletics 5, Rangers 0.

2:07PM PDT: Elvis Andrus sort of reminds me of Jose Reyes. They make these great plays but then they just seem to have their heads out of the games at times and just like air mail a ball like he did there on a routine grounder. Results in an E6 and Kurt Suzuki being on second. How do you air mail a routine groundball when the catcher is running?

1:55PM PDT: Good job for Bush coming into quite the jam and then getting Willingham out on a tough pitch on the outside corner. Just froze him. But the good news is that though they left them loaded A’s have so far cashed in and have the early lead with Gio looking very good – hope the layoff doesn’t mess with his rhythm today.

1:49PM PDT: Matt Harrison walks Conor Jackson loading the bases and Rangers skipper Ron Washington is removing him from this ballgame. So the final line on Harrison in a forgettable performance for the Texas southpaw: 1 2/3 innings pitched, six hits, four runs (all earned), two walks and a strikeout. He throws 49 pitches, 29 for strikes. Sloppy. But sloppy good for the A’s! It would be good to see Josh Willingham cash in a few of these runners off new entrant David Bush. Bush is a long-time starter with the Brewers and Blue Jays so he can go a long way in this game. So far this year he has struggled with a 2.3 K/9 rate to a 5.6 BB/9 rate, not the sort of ratio you’d ever want. So despite a strong 1.13 ERA, he has a 4.34 FIP. This is his third relief appearance of the year for him with Texas, and just the eleventh of his 197 appearance career.

1:46PM PDT: Wonder how long it is before we see David Bush – presently warming in the pen? Matt Harrison is thus far a mess, 41 pitches so far, six of them for hits – four doubles.

1:45PM PDT: Coco is 2-for-2. I repeat, “everything in this offense starts with Crisp”. He drives in Andy LaRoche. A’s 4, Rangers 0.

1:39PM PDT: Gio Gonzalez is looking great so far – getting ahead of guys. Two perfect innings so far – three K’s.

1:31PM PDT: Kurt Suzuki (career SB% 66.7%) gets caught stealing. Like the aggressiveness but it was pretty ugly.

1:28PM PDT: Basehit to left by Kurt Suzuki scores CoJax. I like the Suzuki hitting ahead of Matsui, its a nice look for the lineup, and already paying dividends as Zuk has been hot since the paternity leave. A’s are already at 2-for-3 with RISP so that is good stuff. So strong the A’s are, that the Rangers have a pitcher tossing in the bullpen already. Let’s keep on piling on A’s lead 3-0 but this is a good team we’re facing.

1:22PM PDT: Conor Jackson with a double to plate two. A’s lead 2-0 over the AL West leading Rangers. I still think CoJax should be made the starting third baseman. It is out of the box, but he is hitting well and needs to be inserted into the lineup (.278/.350/.407 with a .348 wOBA and 125 wRC+) on an everyday basis. Frankly one thing Bob Geren has been right on is batting Conor Jackson third. But you need to then ask yourself, if you are consistently batting a backup third, shouldn’t he no longer be a backup?

1:14PM PDT: Leadoff double from Coco Crisp. He really is the table-setter. Everything in this offense starts with Crisp.

1:09PM PDT: CSNCalifornia broadcast showed that Dallas Braden was speaking to Gio before the game. That’s good to see. Don’t know what it is Dallas says but it seems to work. Let’s hope he keeps Gio on an good even keel.

1:06PM PDT: Can beat a 77° cloudless day. The A’s will be wearing the gold jerseys with Gio Gonzalez on the hill – he faces Matt Harrison. A’s got hammered yesterday but hope to again get to .500 with a win today. Coco Crisp is back in the lineup (and sporting the fro again!) and Andy LaRoche is starting at third two things that I take as a good sign.

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