By Jason Wojciechowski on April 6, 2007 at 12:52 PM
The A's and Angels played another close one last night, with Oakland coming out on top thanks to a tie-breaking Mike Piazza solo homer in the top of the ninth. The blow came off of Angels close Frankie Rodriguez, so perhaps BrimGate distracted him after all. (No, probably not. Every pitcher hangs a fastball now and again, and Rodriguez's control isn't so pinpoint that you expect him to do it any less. Although his stuff is nasty enough that I'd bet he gets away with more of his mistakes than most pitchers.)
Chad Gaudin did a very nice job filling in as a starter, going five innings on just 74 pitches while giving up two runs (on back-to-back solo jacks by Vlad the Impaler and Garrett Anderson). Most importantly for Gaudin in particular is that he didn't walk anybody. (Though I'll note that this feat is a tiny bit dampened by the fact that he was facing the Hack-em-up Angels.)
Kiko Calero had his second bad game in relief, so I hope it's just the early season blues and not a hint that he's actually lost his edge (everybody does at some point, and relievers seem particularly susceptible to pumpkin syndrome). With a one-run lead in the bottom of the seventh, he gave up singles to Howie Kendrick and Jose Molina (sandwiched around a Maicer Izturis flyout) before walking Reggie Willits to load the bases. Justin Duchscherer then came on in the impossible "one-run lead, bases loaded, one out" situation but managed to get out of it with the game tied as he gave up a sac fly to Li'l Sarge and then induced on Orlando Cabrera popout. Obviously the best-case scenario when you bring Ducscherer in there is a ground-ball double play, but as a manager, you have to be happy to escape that inning without the Angels having a lead.
That set up Piazza's homer, and Huston Street followed by getting two groundouts before giving up a single to Erick Aybar, who was then caught stealing. Jason Kendall with a CS! My word!
Unfortunately, Kendall went 0-5 at the plate, lowering his batting average to .100 for the year. I think he'll end up hitting almost exactly what he did last year, for what that's worth, but you'd like to see him start hot because of the early-season dose of "all AL West rivals all the time."
Piazza's homer was his third hit of the game, as he'd had a single and his first double of the season earlier. Bobby Kielty started in right (the Angels had lefty Joe Saunders on the mound) and had two hits, including a double that gave the A's an early 1-0 lead. Shannon Stewart also contributed a couple of singles, but more importantly threw out Casey Kotchman at home in a play that made Baseball Tonight. The throw was actually pretty awful, sailing well to his right and pulling Kendall out of position. Kendall, though, is an athletic guy back there, so he was able to make the catch and lunge back toward the plate to get Kotchman as he tried to slide by on the first-base side of the plate.
Tonight's matchup is Joe Kennedy against Dustin Moseley. I don't like any matchup involving Kennedy at this point and thus predict a loss, with the A's falling something like 8-4.