Ted Lilly didn't pitch poorly. He didn't pitch well. He pitched, well, about as expected. Which isn't to say is exactly what you don't not want during a stretch run.
Confused? So are we.
How confident are the A's? They are so confident they can bring a kid off the DL who hasn't pitched in six weeks and throw him to the team with one of the best records in MLB. They're so confident they can move Terrence Long up to the 2nd hole and let him play centerfield. They're so confident they can not bother to drive runs in during a close game. They're so confident they can leave David Justice in the game instead of utilizing two younger and better fastball hitters on their bench.
Terrence Long has hit two homeruns in two games. He now has 15 on the year. He also leads MLB with 8 errors. He is 7th worst in MLB among centerfielders in range factor and next to last in zone rating. When a team comes down the stretch, it's vital that you don't throw runs away, that you make defensive adjustments when needed.
Last night the A's were building up to another one of their comebacks down 3-2. The Angels had been showing signs of wobbling, wavering and wallowing. However the 8th inning began evening things out. With runners on first and second and one out, the A's failed to budge the runners, let alone score.
David Justice's at bat was key as he swung on a 3-1 pitch from Troy Percival to bring a full count. Percival is characteristically obtuse until he gets a few pitches unraveled out on the mound. Then his strike zone awareness kicks in and his command is corrected. Imagine driving a muscle car for the first time. Floor it. You're going to need a few seconds to adjust and over-correct a few times when you're moving that fast.
In the bottom of the 8th Miguel Tejada missed a bare handed play to get Adam Kennedy on an infield single. Sure, Kennedy probably makes it, but, it was a precursor of things to come. After David Eckstein moved Kennedy over to second Art Howe brought in Ricardo Rincon, the left hander, to face Darren Erstad, the left hander. Rincon is about even on his groundball to flyball ratio and was 1 for 4 against Rincon in his career with 2 RBI. Erstad swung and missed on a 2-2 pitch.
Scott Spiezio was 0 for 3 against Rincon in his career and 3 of his last 25 entering the game. But, Spiezio was 1 for 3 in the game with a walk and a two run homer. Spiezio was hitting .349 against left-handers.
Garret Anderson was on deck and has eaten A's pitching alive this season. Can you afford to intentionally walk Spiezio and let Anderson hit with two runners on? Can you afford to bring in Jeff Tam to face Spiezio and lose a Rincon-Anderson matchup in favor of a Micah Bowie-Anderson matchup?
Well, Art Howe had several options and decided against all of them.
We have stated many times before; Art Howe too often manages yesterday's game.
Art left Rincon in, because Rincon was great Monday night in 2/3 of an inning.
Art could have pitched around Spiezio and allow him to get himself out.
Art could have sent Rick Peterson out to talk to Rincon and figure out what the wanted to do, even if it meant just getting some more time to make up his mind.
Art could have brought Tam in, who was warm in the bullpen.
Art could have put Eric Byrnes in center or left for defensive purposes or Mabry in left and Hatteberg at first or brought in Adam Piatt to play left field.
Hatteberg was standing in the on deck circle when Justice flied out against Percival ready to hit for Mark Ellis.
Instead, Art did none of the above and left Rincon out on the bump.
Spiezio belted a line drive to the left of center on a 3-2 pitch. Magellan started in on the ball, paused and then raced to left center, dove, missed the ball completely and David Justice showed up a few days later and got the ball in to the infield. Justice, who earlier booted a Shawn Wooten ball down the line in the 3rd.
The A's went quietly in the top of the 9th.
What can we expect for Wednesday? Hopefully, some production from the 3-8 hitters who went 0 for 19, though they walked five times. Some progress in the Jarrod Washburn debate and surrounding allegations of sexual assault on a minor. Of course, we can also expect Art Howe to micro-manage the hell out the game since he didn't on Tuesday.
Adam Piatt or even Eric Byrnes should start. Piatt went 1 for 3 with a walk against John Lackey on April 29th (when he was with Anaheim's AAA PCL team, Salt Lake). They have at least seen Lackey before. Plus, right handers are hitting .309 against him while left handers are hitting .199. Seeing Olmedo Saenz at first or third wouldn't hurt.