Monday, April 06, 2009
What You Want: Angels 3, A's 0
Fortunately, 7 Crosby had very little to cheer about. I almost had to rub my eyes reading the A's lineup; was this some kind of late spring training joke? No, Nomar was the starting first baseman, batting fifth, and the pale specter of Eric Chavez clambered in after him in the six hole. Old Friend Orlando Cabrera batted second and got the A's only extra-base hit, a bullet down the left field line that Figgins just couldn't reach to lead off the sixth. Typical of the kind of night the A's had, not only did he fail to score or even advance, he got picked off when Matt Holliday hit into a nifty 6-4 fielder's choice that resulted in a tag out when Cabrera, normally a smart baserunner, got caught too far off the bag.
No, Hokie Joe managed to keep the lot of them down for six and two-thirds, and in fact no Oakland baserunner even made it as far as third. The Angels offensively weren't insanely better than the A's, but they were good enough on a night when Joe did himself proud. Howie Kendrick had a very good night, driving in a run on a single in the third and plating himself on a solo homer in the fifth. Lefty junkballer Dallas Braden lasted six and posted a quality start, but the subsequent bullpen work was typically solid, with former Cub Michael Wuertz and Andrew Bailey posting clean innings in efficient fashion.
Jose Arredondo made the last out of the seventh, Jack Cust on one of his typical strikeouts, and then it was the usual Shields-to-closer gig thereafter. I was especially interested in seeing Brian Fuentes make his outs, and I wasn't disappointed. Fuentes has dropped his WHIP every year for the last five, a very good sign in a closer, especially considering how K-Rod's had been rising the last three years. Fuentes wasn't especially efficient with Giambi, taking six pitches to dispatch him, but he got the next two in order and without much fuss. Realizing that everyone has their idiosyncrasies, and that he'll fail eventually, too, I was still pleased with the outing. I take it as a good sign for the season.
One odd thing I saw at the park: Reggie Willits, lately demoted to AAA, still adorning a banner at the park. I don't think the organization has quite given up on him; I would even go so far as to say that if they didn't owe Gary Matthews, Jr. quite so much money, he'd be looking for a team to hook up with about now.
Happy day: the season is here, and baseball is back again. I'm enjoying every second.