By Jason Wojciechowski on April 18, 2006 at 2:02 AM
The A's lost a game they should have won last night. I don't think you'll see the Oakland bullpen, much less Huston Street, blow too many late-game two-run leads this year, so I don't think we should be too morose about it. We accept it, we find some silver lining, and we move on. There's not a lot to analyze about a loss when your closer gives up four runs and isn't even allowed to finish the inning (Joe Kennedy cleaned up another mess by throwing one pitch for the last out of the ninth).
Did I mention silver linings? How about Dan Haren getting on track with eight innings of one-run ball with five strikeouts and one walk. The only run came on a homer in the eighth that Milton Bradley nearly saved. I wonder whether Macha would have given Haren a shot at the shutout had Bradley come up with that catch. Haren finished with exactly 100 pitches and, though you can't say for sure whether the A's would have scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth had the Rangers not tied the game in the top half (we may treat events as independent, but any time you're dealing with humans and their frail psyches, you can't really make assumptions like that), he could have had a three-run lead to play with.
Of course, maybe if Haren's in there, the Rangers score even more.
The other huge bright spot was Eric Chavez continuing his great early hitting, going 4-4 with two doubles. His line for the year is .313/.358/.750, which, true, isn't quite Chris Shelton, but it's not exactly Dan Johnson either.
What kept the offense from scoring more than one run against Kameron Loe was Frank Thomas, Milton Bradley, Jay Payton, Jason Kendall, and Marco Scutaro combining for a 1-15 line, with the only hit being Jason Kendall's two-out single in the ninth (which almost turned into a rally, but fell short - duh). Marco Scutaro's a halfway decent player to have as a backup, but he's not someone who should be playing this often over Mark Ellis. Ken Macha is far too big a believer in the "hot hand" for my tastes. Giving Ellis all of 36 at-bats to decide that he's not hot enough to be in the lineup regularly is foolhardy: we know Ellis is going to outhit to Scutaro, and we know it'll be by a substantial margin. Let's not make things more complicated than we have to, Kenny.
As always, maybe Macha knows something I can't see from the outside: maybe Ellis is pressing and his swing mechanics are getting a little out of whack, and it'd be better in the long-run (short term long-run, as in like over the next month or two) if he sat for a few games. But I don't trust any major league manager that much. I'm not ready to give him that much credit.