By Jason Wojciechowski on April 19, 2004 at 11:35 PM
I saw a teeny bit of the A's-Angels tilt last night before I had to get dinner and go to bed in preparation for what would probably be (and turned out to be) a long Monday at "the office." What I saw was Kelvim Escobar getting too many raves just for throwing 95+, Eric Byrnes continuing to make the most of his talent with an infield single, stolen base, and run scored, and Barry Zito not looking as wicked sharp as he sometimes does, but still being effective by working inside on right-handed hitters, getting little weak popups from them, Vlad Guerrero included.
What the rest of the game contained was the A's working Escobar's pitch count until he got tired (110 in 5 2/3 innings), then hitting him and Ben Weber up for six runs in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings. Oakland ended up with thirteen hits and four walks for seven runs, a very nice offensive output. Bobby Crosby chipped in with his second big league home run, showing that EA Sports's MVP 2004 has his hitting ratings way too low. For goodness' sake, I'm replacing him at short with Marco Scutaro once he becomes healthy.
Back to real life: Scutaro is hitting .390. His value is all batting average driven at this point, with just one walk and a .122 ISO (five doubles), but with that batting average, he's an incredibly valuable player. Let's be happy about what he's done for the first 12 games, and not get giddy about what he'll do over the next 150, though. I like him as much as the next guy, and I think he'll be a valuable replacement who may even outhit Mark Ellis, but I hope he starts walking more as his batting average comes back to earth, because a .290/.295/.412 guy isn't so hot, even if he does play a nifty second.
Barry Zito provided more ammunition to the "declining strikeout rate" hounds (mixed metaphor?), but he got the job done over six innings, even if he did throw a few too many pitches in getting there (he was over 100 after six, necessitating a change). Chris Hammond took over adequately, though, allowing just two baserunners (a single and HBP) in three shutout innings. Despite the six run lead when he came in, the fact that he pitched three innings allowed the scorer to give him a save if he chose, and, predictably, today's boxscore includes "C Hammond (S, 1)." That three-inning rule is a nice one for flexibility purposes, because holding a lead for three innings is no small chore against major league offenses, but it's abused far too much. Every year, Jayson Stark finds some example of a 12-run save or something, illustrating the statistic's continued decline into uselessness.
Updated stat table below.
|Bobby Kielty< td>||?||?||.340||.405||47|