Have you ever witnessed an event unfold before your very eyes then attempt to read or learn about the event the next day? Usually there is a difference in perspective. Most likely a different context adds to the dilemma. Not to mention reformulating the memory in your own head. Watching a report on TV with visual proof doesn't help unless the same vantage point is explored.
The game last night would have to be one of those events that I don't think translates very well from AP writers and sports anchors.
Ray Durham was a late scratch last night due to the passing of his uncle.
Mark Ellis led off the game with a single. Scott Hatteberg followed with a single.
SITUATION: Runners on first and second, nobody out. MVP candidate Miguel Tejada up to bat. Eric Chavez to follow and David Justice following.
RESOLUTION: Flied out, popped out, flied out.
Not exactly winning baseball. The A's went 0 for 3 in the first inning alone with runners in scoring position. At this point, the A's should just consider bunting with runners on. It goes against the A's philosophy, but so does not scoring any runs. Either start bunting on every pitch or take every damn pitch since they aren't going to hit worth a lick.
Zito's High Horse
Barry Zito was on his high horse last night snapping his curve ball around like a wet towel in a high school locker room at the ass of the unsuspecting.
Barry was perfect through three innings and it looked like the A's clearly had the momentum in their favor.
When Barry needs to, he can lock in and mow hitters down. When he has a goal in mind, there is little chance he will stray from the intended goal. What Barry needed was some assurance from his teammates that they were on the same page as he was. The A's bats did little to comfort Zito as the A's started their second trip through the batting order in the bottom of the third. Ramon Hernandez flied out. Ellis struck out. Scott Hatteberg flied out.
Zito seemed to lose focus and drifted a changeup that Orlando Hudson smacked to left, where John Mabry was stationed. John Mabry is a competent fielder, but he does not have the ability of great speed afforded to other outfielders.
Dave berg sacrificed Hudson over to third for the 1st out of the inning. Barry then hunkered down and got Shannon Stewart on three pitches swinging and Josh Phelps on three pitches looking. End of threat.
Jermaine Dye: Healed
Leave it to Jermaine Dye to return to form just when the A's offense looks ready to slide off the table. The bottom of the 4th feature good hitting and raw power. Miggi singled to center. Eric Chavez fouled to first. David Justice went the other way for a single. Then, Jermaine Dye hammered a low fastball for a homerun to left center-just to the left of the Razor's Edge and about fifty feet up.
Jermaine Dye's last Seven Days:
No, they're not out of this world stats, just very good. But, in context, a great site for a guy who is still only about 90% healthy and 70% confident in his health.
A Long Way for Nothing
Two great coaching phrases; from my first college QB coach, Sunny Stupek, "Don't make a bad situation worse" and from my first little league coach, Rick Allen, "Don't run a long way for nothing."
The first is when the play breaks down and chaos ensues. Don't throw the ball into traffic trying to make something happen. Get out of bounds or find an easy completion to get a small positive. Throwing the ball out of bounds you can break even. When you can do that, it's money in the bank.
The second was a rule of thumb when deciding to field a sinking or tailing line drive. There are basically three options:
Keep the ball in front, i.e. let it drop
The slide is a much better outfield move because you have your legs and body to keep the ball in front of you. With runners on you want to do your best to keep them from scoring. With nobody on, there isn't much to lose. Unless the ball gets away.
When you dive head first you run the risk of injury and having the ball bounce off your body in any direction. So, Coach Allen suggested that if you can get to the ball use your best judgement on whether to make the sliding attempt or dive adding, "don't run a long way for nothing." The basic implication being, you had better make the catch if you dive and if you slide you better keep the ball in front of you if you can't make the catch.
Of course, the old axiom of: "if you can touch it, you catch it" always applies.
With one out in the 6th Orlando Hudson drove a sinking line drive to right center. Terrence Long made a head first dive that went off his glove and then 20-25 feet in front of him into right field. Jermaine Dye did an excellent job of backing up Long, should the ball have gotten by Long. Instead, Dye stood there helpless as Long had to get up, run to the ball and unleash a throw toward the infield. Long missed the cut off man and threw the ball into third, hitting a sliding Orlando Hudson. The ball careened 30 feet into foul ground and Hudson jogged home for the Blue Jays' first run.
The ball went off Long's glove.
He went a long way for nothing and made a bad situation worse.
By the way, that's the second 'little league homerun' that involved T Long this year against the Blue Jays.
Do you think Zito was pissed? He was visibly upset and it showed. Dave Berg singled to right, a clean single on a pitch in the middle of the plate. Shannon Stewart was safe at first on error; Miggi couldn't get a grip on a ball to his right and then tried to flip the ball across his body. He couldn't get enough on the through and Stewart can flat out fly. After a visit from Ramon and Rick Peterson Josh Phelps grounded out to third to advance the runners to second and third with two outs.
Vernon Wells doubled to deep left center. This is a situation where Terrence Long should have been shaded over in left center and ready to meet Mabry if a ball was hit into the gap. He didn't. The ball was a few feet from Mabry's grasp and he played it off the wall. You can't give Long an error on this play, but he certainly didn't position himself well at all. Both runs scored.
Zito recovered to strike out Eric Hinske swinging.
Another question; why not have Eric Byrnes start in left instead of Mabry? Floating Byrnes a few at-bats here and there late in games and as a pinch runner/defensive replacement doesn't do much to help him get comfortable at the plate. Mabry is exceptional at pinch hitting.
If Art Howe was just playing Mabry for the lefty-vs-rigthy match up, it doesn't really matter if it's you're number seven hitter. Byrnes needs playing time, especially when Mabry's batting average has dropped 50 points since the All Star break. To his credit, Mabry did walk twice last night.
Burned Out Clutch
I'll look around and find some good reference points for you to research, but there really is no existence of 'clutch' hitting. Yet, all the headlines pointed to Eric Chavez's two run single with two outs in the seventh as 'Clutch Hitting'.
Every so often a blind squirrel will find a nut.
The A's were overdue or are just really bad with runners in scoring position:
OAKLAND 7TH: J Mabry walked. J Mabry to second on wild pitch by C Carpenter. R Hernandez walked. E Byrnes ran for J Mabry. M Hendrickson relieved C Carpenter. M Ellis sacrificed to pitcher, E Byrnes to third, R Hernandez to second. S Hatteberg popped out to shortstop. M Tejada intentionally walked. E Chavez singled to left, E Byrnes and R Hernandez scored, M Tejada to third, E Chavez to second advancing on throw. D Justice struck out looking.
They were one for three in the inning with runners in scoring position. If you want to count the sacrifice, they were one for four.
Zito came out in the 8th and polished off the Blue Jays 1-2-3 setting up Billy Koch's 9th.
Billy slammed the door on his former team. Of course, his foot was in the doorway when he did it.
Koch walked the first two batters. Eric Hinske moved the runners over with a ground ball to the right side. Former Oakland A Brian Lesher's RBI ground out put the Blue Jays a run down with a runner on third with another former Athletic, Tom Wilson coming up to pinch hit.
I was at the game when Tom Wilson made his MLB debut last year. He caught Mark Mulder on Miguel Tejada bobblehead doll day and called a perfect game through through six. Somebody misplayed a ball in center, resulting in an error, but the no-hitter was intact until the 8th when Maglio Ordonez singled. Wilson also homered that day.
Last night, Wilson struck out on four pitches to end the game.
The A's didn't pick up ground on Seattle or Anaheim, just Boston who lost to Seattle.
Zito has his 16th win and with 8 or 9 starts left in the year has a shot at 23 wins.