By Jason Wojciechowski on April 11, 2010 at 3:30 PM
I was able to watch almost the entire A's-Angels game (I missed the first inning), and watch it live to boot, the first time I've done that this year. This was a good one to choose, with the A's winding up winning 9-4.
The game did not start nearly so happy, though, as it had all the hallmarks of a classic A's game: Joe Saunders, a mediocre but crafty lefty, shutting down the A's with weakly hit balls in play while Dallas Braden was doing great work against the Angels, but not quite as great as his counterpart. But the A's broke through in the seventh after going about 13 up and 13 down after the Adam Rosales second-inning homer. Ryan Sweeney's single felt like more of the same to me -- the A's would put a runner on in a tight game (3-1 at that point) and then waste him. Instead, Kevin Kouzmanoff singled to right and the Sweeney went first-to-third (again). Even this, though, didn't cheer me up. Runner on third, no outs, Mark Ellis at the plate? Double-play waiting to happen, right? Nope, just an RBI double that bounced into the stands in foul territory in right, putting runners on second and third, still no outs, and the A's down just a run. Jake Fox did strike out (and for all of Kevin Kouzmanoff's free swinging, Fox seemed worse today, although it might be more of a contact-on-strikes issue than a swinging-at-balls issue), but then Adam Rosales, turning a good offensive day into an awesome one, gave the A's the lead.
From there, having put Dallas Braden in a position to get the win, Tyson Ross shut the Angels down for three innings (less a Juan Rivera homer in the ninth, cutting a six-run lead to five), and the A's busted things open in the eighth and ninth, though their three-run eighth could have been even huger. Daric Barton inexplicably sacrificed Rajai Davis from second to third with no outs, then Ryan Sweeney was caught stealing after walking. Luckily, from there, Kouzmanoff and Fox both walked, sandwiched around a Brandon Wood throwing error that allowed Mark Ellis to reach and Davis to score. Adam Rosales and Gabe Gross added runs, and Ryan Sweeney and Mark Ellis threw some RBI in for good measure in the ninth.
Tyson Ross, as I tweeted, looks like an arm injury waiting to happen. Not to mention a four-walk inning waiting to happen. He's tall and lanky, but his motion is all arm. He looks like an 11-year-old Little Leaguer who can throw hard, but who hasn't quite figured out how his body all fits together yet. It worked for him in this game, and in the spring, of course, but I'm going to be really worried about him all year, I think. Hopefully when Mike Wuertz and Joey Devine come back, the A's won't have to use him in one-run games much in June and July.
For my thoughts on Dallas Braden, just see my note on his last game -- he didn't get ten strikeouts in this one, but he moved the ball around, got swings and misses on his changeup, and had good command. He doesn't have the ceiling of Brett Anderson or Gio Gonzalez because his strikeout totals just won't be there, but if Braden's gone from a guy who's fun to root for to a guy who's actually earned his spot on the team and gives you a great chance to win every day. I'm not sure Rajai Davis is all the way there yet, but he's trying to make that same leap.
The A's get Seattle again next, this time for a three-game set at Safeco, with Duchscherer, Anderson, and Gonzalez slated to pitch. Seattle has the back end of their rotation up, so the A's miss King Felix and get Doug Fister and Jason Vargas on Tuesday and Wednesday. Were I a gambling man, I'd take the A's to win two of three, pushing their record to 7-3 for the year, although I'm nervous about Gio Gonzalez -- he had such a good game on Friday against the Angels that I'm pretty convinced he'll be stinking up the joint come Wednesday. That's just who Gio Gonzalez is. (The hope, of course, is that this isn't who Gio Gonzalez is anymore, but if wishes where fishes etc.)