Rich Harden: he threw five and a third good innings against Tampa Bay on Sunday, with his only run allowed coming when Justin Duchscherer allowed an inherited runner to score from second with one out. Harden walked two and had six fly-ball outs compared to just four groundouts, but one run allowed is one run allowed however you slice it.
The A's bullpen: Duchscherer's aforementioned inherited runner allowed to score was the only black mark against the three and two thirds innings picked up by the 'pen last night. Duke, Kiko Calero, and Octavio Dotel combined to strike out six batters while allowing three hits and no walks in those innings.
The A's ability to put together a rally occasionally: Oakland put the game away in the sixth, scoring four runs on just two hits against three pitchers.
We also have to be fair, though, and point out some negative trends I see shaping up.
Sacrifices! I knew Ken Macha's "work on the fundamentals" in the spring was worrisome. The A's have already laid down two sac bunts this year, putting them on pace for 54, after having just 25 last year. If Macha had his druthers, Oakland would have already laid down three bunts, because before Eric Byrnes hit that big three-run homer against Baltimore the other night, he fouled off a bunt attempt. Sure, Macha made a great decision by taking the bunt off, but still, Oakland doesn't have any hitters that should be bunting before the 8th inning.
Jason Kendall's inability to throw out baserunners. Kendall has already allowed eight stolen bases against just one runner caught stealing this year. His career caught-stealing percentage is close to 31% and I don't see a noticeable downward trend, so there's a good chance that them's just the breaks, but it's something to keep an eye on.
MVOP for 4/10: Erubiel Durazo, 2.0311, for a big two-run single and a couple of walks.
LVOP for 4/10: Marco Scutaro, -1.5152, but that's not entirely his fault, since he laid down the sacrifice that I castigated earlier. Granted, he was 0-3 aside from that, but who knows, maybe he comes up with a big hit if Macha lets him bat in that situation. On the other hand, maybe he hits into a double play and ends up with a truly terrible day.
MVP for 4/10: Rich Harden, 2.0809, for holding down the Rays for a little over five innings.
LVP for 4/10: All four pitchers earned positive ARC in the game.
Marco Scutaro, Nick Swisher, Eric Byrnes, Mark Ellis, Mark Kotsay, Erubiel Durazo -- 1
The updated run-differential rankings look like this:
The A's inability to think outside the box on using Dotel in close games when Oakland is behind is forcing them to put him in games where he's not needed just to get him work.
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