By Jason Wojciechowski on April 16, 2006 at 7:00 PM
I'm two days behind on the A's, mostly because I was laid up in bed all day yesterday with either a flu or mild food poisoning. I don't think I'll ever eat sweet and sour chicken again, at least not from a takeout chinese place.
The A's got a bad start to their Texas series, losing to Kevin Millwood. It was the fourth straight loss for Oakland, and dropped them under .500 for the first time since Opening Day. Barry Zito was uninspiring again, giving up five runs in seven innings, though he only allowed six hits and two walks (and one HBP). Zito's wildness got to him in the second inning, as he hit Phil Nevin and walked Hank Blalock before getting two strikeouts. Then he walked one more before D'Angelo Jimenez came through with the key single to score two runs.
The three-run Texas fourth inning was just a plain old rally: double, RBI single, double, sac fly, and then a run scores on a wild pitch.
Huston Street gave up his first run of the year, but it didn't matter: the A's were already down three at that point, and, as I recall, the chance of winning is something like 99.7%. Speaking of garbage time, Milton Bradley hit his first Oakland homer in the bottom half, taking Antonio Alfonseca deep.
That homer, along with Frank Thomas's earlier shot (the 450th of his career), foreshadowed the events of the next day, when the A's rode consecutive homers (on consecutive pitches!) from Eric Chavez, Thomas, and Bradley to a one-run victory over Vicente Padilla. All five of the A's runs, in fact, came on homers, since Oakland's other two came on a two-run shot by Nick Swisher, his fourth of the year.
The homers were all the more powerful for coming the half inning after Rich Harden had coughed up a 2-1 Oakland lead on a three-run Phil Nevin homer. Harden only allowed three hits, but he walked five Rangers, including the two men he put on immediately in front of Nevin's homer. Even worse, he had started the inning with two of his eight strikeouts. Up until those two walks, Harden was on his way to another great outing: 5 2/3 innings, two hits, three walks, six strikeouts, and two double plays.
Justin Duchscherer and Joe Kennedy pitched the eighth, with Kennedy putting out Duchscherer's two-baserunner fire, and Huston Street threw a perfect ninth for his third save of the year. Duchscherer and Kennedy have combined for 10 2/3 innings this year in which they've allowed no runs while recording twelve strikeouts and just two walks. That's obviously an excellent start to the year for the setup team, and yet another datapoint to the assertion that bullpens are made, not born.