A's drop back into a tie

By Jason Wojciechowski on August 14, 2003 at 3:31 PM

Mark Mulder got a little bit pounded last night. Six runs on nine hits and three walks in six and a third innings, including a run walked in and a home run by Manny Ramirez sent the A's to a loss, dropping them back into a tie with the Red Sox for the wild card lead. Since Seattle won, the A's also dropped to four back of the Mariners in the West.

Mulder's been excellent this year. One sign is that, while this game was bad-but-not-horrendous, he's only had one worse game all year (June 3 against the Marlins, eight runs in three and two thirds). I'm not sure that Mulder gets enough respect for a guy who's ninth in the American League in strikeouts, sixth in WHIP, third in innings, fourth in ERA, and first in complete games.

Those nine complete games alone are pretty crazy. In the last two years, no one has had that many complete games, not Randy Johnson, not Curt Schilling, not anybody. David Wells had nine in 2000, and before that there are plenty of guys who had more, but the last two years have really been down for the one-pitcher-wonders. I'd bet that a large part of that is the spreading gospel of protecting pitchers' arms. So how did a team that was one of the first to believe that gospel end up with a guy with nine complete games in August?
Efficiency. Mulder throws just 14 pitches per inning, the second best figure in the majors, with only Roy Halladay ahead of him.

I've heard that the A's have this other pretty good pitcher, Tim Hudson, who's supposed to be having a pretty good year himself. Turns out he's fourth in pitches per inning. Right in between Hudson and Mulder is David Wells, who, while he's not Hudson or Mulder, is still a pretty good pitcher.

Mulder was bad, but the A's should have been in ths thing. Erubiel Durazo probably gave A's fans nightmares: He did nothing in four plate appearances, striking out three times (once with Miguel Tejada on first and two out, once with the bases loaded and two out, once with runners on second and third and two out), ending the inning each time. Even when he put the ball in play, he could only manage a ground out to first, which, predictably, also ended the inning.
The guy was a Terrence Long-like rally killer for tonight, and since the game was within reach every time he came up with a chance to do some damage, those strikeouts hurt even more.

On activating Jim Mecir, I thought the A's would send Chad Harville back to the minors. I'm not sure whether he's out of options or what, because instead, they've designated Adam Piatt for assignment. I don't know that Piatt is going to make it through waivers. David McCarty didn't even make it through waivers, so I don't know why a younger version of the same would, especially since some teams might still have starry-eyed visions of a Texas League triple crown in their heads.

So what this amounts to is junking a perfectly good platoon partner and pinch hitter to get to twelve pitchers at a time when the A's bullpen is being worked less than it has been all year. I can't remember the last time Ricardo Rincon saw the light of day, and now they're supposed to find time for Mecir along with Rincon and Harville?

More putrid is that this means Terrence Long is stuck out in left field against lefties. Recall, Piatt over three years has an .889 OPS against lefties, against Long's .683. Long against lefties is not only not helping, he's hurting. Well, Long in general is hurting, which makes me unable to comprehend why a patient guy with a .382 OBP against righties has only managed 112 plate apperances this year. That's Billy McMillon, by the way. He got a string of starts a little while back, but since then, he's been consigned to his old completely ignored spot on the bench. He wasn't tearing the place up, but he was a more consistent threat to get on base than Scott Hatteberg has been this year.

Maybe he's just a really bad defensive outfielder. After all, I recall some times that he was replaced late in the game by Adam Piatt, of all people. That doesn't really bode well. Removing a decent bat from the lineup, especially against right-handed pitchers, can't be worth the defensive hit, though. The A's let Jeremy Giambi roam around in left field for awhile, not to mention Ben Grieve, but they won't do the same for Billy McMillon? Show the guy some love!

In the spirit of the "Free [name here]" movements for guys like Durazo and Johan Santana, I wish to officially announce the beginning of the "Jail Terrence Long" movement. We will not stop agitating until this defiler of all things pure and holy at the plate is removed to a splintery section of Oakland's bench. I'm starting the Terrence Long sidebar now to help publicize just how bad this situation is.