At least Seattle lost

By Jason Wojciechowski on August 21, 2003 at 3:36 PM

The A's got beat up tonight. Crunched. The Phenom got smoked for eight runs in just 2 2/3 innings. What's most upsetting about his performance is his seven walks, a symptom of his inability to throw even 50% strikes (of his 77 pitches, just 35 were strikes). His season ERA approaches Ted Lilly's now, actually.

Mike Wood got a trial by fire in some sense, relieving Harden in the third.
Wood is up because the A's put Mark Mulder on the DL with his hip problem. This could be some trouble. John Halama is reportedly going to get Mulder's start(s). While Halama has been decent of late, I don't really trust him as a starter, and I'd rather he add depth to the bullpen than take away from it by working as a five-inning starter.

Jim Mecir and Mike Neu got an inning apiece, too, and only Mecir escaped unscathed, even getting a strikeout in his 1-2-3 inning.

The offense put up five runs, which is more than most A's fans are used to, and which is usually enough given their pitchers, but with a rookie going tonight, even a good one, against a historically good offense, I wasn't optimistic going in.

Terrence Long finally sat, and Eric Byrnes replaced him in left field. Byrnes actually got a couple of hits, including his eighth (!) triple and 22nd double of the year. Even with Byrnes' recent terrible slump, his .809 OPS is significantly closer to decent than Long can ever hope to be. Mark Ellis had two doubles and a single in the leadoff spot, providing as much offense in one day as Long tends to provide in a month.

I don't see what's wrong with this lineup. Ellis is a better option than Long to lead off, Byrnes is better offensively than Long, and we still get to keep Chris Singleton in center for defensive purposes. With the acquisition of Jose Guillen, he can shade over to left to help out Byrnes when he gets one of his trademark terrible jumps. When Tim Hudson and Mulder are on the mound, outfield defense isn't all that important anyway. Those two are ground-ball freaks, giving very few opportunities to the outfield to make a difference.

So with Seattle's loss, the A's remain three back in the West, while Boston moves to just one back of Oakland in the wild card. The A's go to Toronto next while Seattle visits Boston. It's one of those situations where every game the A's win moves them up in the standings on somebody, while every game they lose moves them down. In other words, it's a terrible time for the starting pitching to go into injury chaos.