By Jason Wojciechowski on August 25, 2003 at 3:44 PM
This entry will cover the A's whomping of Toronto last night, its playoff implications, and then, hopefully, the A's-Jays tilt of tonight, which should be over by the time I'm done writing here.
On to that whomping. What happened? Basically, everybody hit like this was the 1998 A's, and Tim Hudson pitched ... well, he pitched like the Cy Young deserving Tim Hudson that we all know and love from this year.
More specific, you say? How about this: Billy McMillon (hitting leadoff again; he hits first, the A's score 11 and 17 in succession. Need we say more?) had a three-run homer and two singles, running his very not-Long-like OBP to .356; Jose Guillen smacked a homer immediately behind McMillon's, and added a double; Eric Byrnes came in later in the game and hit a triple his one time up; Eric Chavez had a double and two singles (Chavez in the second half: 326/396/567); Miguel Tejada hit a double and a grand slam, and threw in two singles for good measure (Tejada in the second half: 324/366/524); Erubiel Durazo singled and walked twice; Ramon Hernandez had two singles and the A's other grand slam (that's right, two in the game); even Chris Singleton walked twice, though one was intentional.
Mark Ellis and Terrence Long got on base only once apiece, with singles from each of them, but 1-6 is a good night for Long.
To top it all off, Hudson's two runs allowed were unearned, so he actually lowered his ERA to 2.40.
Can the Blue Jays pitch? No, they can't. That said, while the staff as a whole
isn't really an impressive one, Kelvim Escobar was going last night, and he
brought a 3.94 ERA into the game. Unfortunately for him, the A's scored nine
runs in five and a third, raising his ERA all the way to 4.36. That kind of
damage to one guy's season line is pretty impressive. It's even better when you
do it to two guys on the other team: Josh Towers came into the game with a 4.74
ERA and, six earned runs in one inning later, left it with a 6.66 mark. Ouch.
Now granted, he's up to all of 25 and two thirds innings this year, and his last start had lowered his ERA almost as much as this appearance raised it (from 6.89 to 4.74), but it's still a fun little number to look at.
Mike Neu's been getting a lot of work lately, mostly since the A's have been
involved in some not-so-tight games. He three three innings last night,
allowing Hudson to come out after six innings having thrown just 87 pitches.
Neu gave up just a hit and a walk, lowering his ERA to 3.55 and, better, "earning" his first major league "save." As he said himself, it's kind of weird that he got a save in a 15-run game (though it was only 14 when he threw his first pitch; the A's later got one more insurance run in the top of the ninth), but that's the rule. Except it's not really the rule. As I recall, it's actually the scorer's decision whether to award a save or not in the "three-innings, score doesn't matter" situation, but I can't recall a time when a save was not awarded. Yet another reason to ignore the thing completely.
What about those playoff implications? Seattle lost (again! They're in a bit of a slide right now, which is precisely what the A's have been waiting for; thank goodness they're not wasting it too much, despite facing some fairly tough teams) to Boston, so the A's moved to just a game back in the West, and stayed tied with the Red Sox for the wild card. Even better, though, their chances of making the playoffs, according to Baseball Prospectus' cool formula, improved to 55.2%. Unfortunately, that's still the lowest figure among the four real AL playoff teams. Fortunately, Seattle, which had recently been around the 95% mark, is all the way down to 75%, and, since they've already lost tonight, will drop even further, especially if the A's can hold on to beat the Blue Jays.
You know what? I'm going to write about tonight tomorrow. I know my three readers are sorely disappointed.