By Jason Wojciechowski on April 23, 2004 at 11:12 PM
Oakland salvaged a split last night with the Mariners by winning after having dropped the first two games in the series. It's a nice thing to have the confidence of having their tenth win and not having lost a series yet going into another set against the Angels. Given how deep Anaheim has some of its better players locked up as well as how amazing people say their farm system is, the Angels-A's rivalry could be a good one for the next few years.
Back to the game at hand, though. Oakland's offense broke out a little, with the surprising exception of Marco Scutaro. He went 0-5 with eight men left on base in the game. Someone finally shut him down. I'll blame it on the combination of moving to shortstop and moving to the seven hole, from second base and ninth.
Frankie Menechino got into the game, as he was the starting second baseman and ninth hitter. He had a single and was involved in a double play. I guess this means that Esteban German has had his day (literally) in the sun and is back where he's been getting comfortable the last few years, Sacramento. Offensively, I don't know if it'll matter much either way. German brings more speed, both bring strong performance records as far as getting on base, and neither is likely to hit for power. Menechino has Proven Veteran sheen and might be a bit more of a threat to hit one out once in a blue moon than German his. The difference is probably defensive, as I've read that Menechino is a decent player in the field, and German is a bad one. Menechino also probably has more flexibility, as he played short in Sacramento and has shown up at third a number of times in the past few years. The fact that Menechino is starting at second is not going to be an issue as far as the A's getting to the playoffs, at least not directly. It's the fact that he's playing second because Scutaro is at short that could be an issue.
It does create the possibility for a nice problem, though. Suppose Bobby Crosby is out for, say, three weeks. That's not based on any information, it's just idle speculation. In those three weeks, say that Menechino hits well and plays a strong second base, while Marco Scutaro continues to play well, but doesn't hit safely in all 15 games or anything. Bobby Crosby comes back and ... what happens? Second base controversy! Scutaro and Menechino could split time, I guess, but it wouldn't really be fair to either player if they're both playing well enough to start. Of course, this is why Ken Macha gets the big bucks.
On the other hand, this was all just a hopeful exercise. Menechino could easily scuffle, Scutaro could fall off to Mark Ellis levels, we could have a combination of both, or (knock on wood) there could be more owies. Of course, without Bobby Crosby around plowing into everyone on popups, the A's will probably be injury free the rest of the year.
Eric Chavez homered against Jamie Moyer again last night, which surprised me, because Moyer still usually throws with his left hand. I visited Chavez's batter vs. pitcher page at ESPN, though, and found out that in 40 plate appearances against Moyer, he's hitting .306/.390/.722 with five home runs. Forty plate appearances is a small sample no matter how you cut it, which is why batter vs. pitcher numbers can be suspect (yes, even that Enrique Wilson vs. Pedro Martinez thing could fall apart at any second), but that's pretty impressive on Chavez's part.
Chavez also drew three walks on the night, all unintentional, giving him 15 on the year, good for third in the American League. It's an excellent start to his new contract.
Eric Byrnes was in left for Bobby Kielty and continued to campaign for more playing time (not that I'm endorsing it. Who should he replace?) with two hits and a stolen base, his third of the year. Three steals for one guy on the A's qualifies as remarkable.
The A's pitching was unremarkable, with Mark Mulder pitching six innings of two-run ball (very good, but nothing out of the ordinary) and Chris Hammond and Chad Bradford following for three innings total, giving up one hit apiece. Pitching Bradford in a six-run game against a team struggling offensively might seem weird after last year, but his scoreless outing lowered his ERA to 10.12, so it's a good idea to get him some work to try to get him back on top of things, especially with Jim Mecir pitching well enough to handle the innings that Bradford pitched last year.
Stats table below.