Friday, June 14, 2013

The A's Get A Signature Win

Number One In The Hood, G
By mid-June, a third of the MLB season is over, and while we don't know who's going to win -- in that, being a game where the worst team will beat the game 4 times out of 11, we never really know who is going to win -- we do pretty much know who is going to be playing games that matter in September, for the most part. And while you can look at things like runs scored, runs against, advanced statistics, minor league help and so on and so on...

Well, I'm dumb. I like to watch games.

Today, I got to catch six innings of the A's-Yankees game. The kicker being that I turned the game on around 7:30pm EST, or about an hour after the game should have ended. Oakland won with a walk-off in the 18th, after Last Man Pitching Jesse Chavez stoned the Yanks for a walk dozen innings, DH Nate Freiman blooped a single off Mariano Rivera, and the pinstripes left town with no more wins than they came with. Enjoy your lack of timely getaway and broomstick, Yanks. Hope you can recover in Anaheim.

Now, beating New York isn't so damned deadly difficult right now. The Bombers have stayed afloat for two months with a waiver wire job for the ages, having gotten production out of freely available talent like Lyle Overbay, Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner; much of that has been melting away in recent weeks, which is to say, sliding back to regression. They win these days when the starting pitching stays in the game long enough to hand a lead over to a lockdown bullpen, and they'll win later in the year when they get back some high priced talent on offense. Winning games at home against such a team isn't that big of a deal, except, of course, when you do it with style.

Chavez is, basically, a good minor league pitcher. He's been on a bunch of different teams and spent much of his day dancing around base runners. Oakland also had a runner thrown out at the plate in extras, and shook that off to win the game anyway... and, well, while the stats tell you that truly great teams just beat the stuffing out of the opposition, that's not how the year goes. Last year's A's team won a stunning number of games with walk-offs, to the point where they had to think hard about how to assault the game-winning hitter in the post-game interview. The same thing happened for Baltimore. And if you lose enough of these games (I'm looking at you, Philadelphia, with your comatose offense and your DOA bullpen), the same feeling applies.

You need to be good, and the A's are: that's 11 in a row at home to go 2 up in the division. But when you're lucky, too? In baseball, you usually get better.

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