By Jason Wojciechowski on July 27, 2011 at 1:00 AM
Between the All-Star break and the A's never-ending sequence of losses, injuries, and frustrating roster decisions, I'd gotten away from the day-to-day on the blog. Five days away from home and away from my computers (except for the iPhones -- you don't actually expect me to leave it all behind, do you?) and away from anything other than an every-other-day scoreboard-check have refreshed me, however. I'm back and I'm ready to see whether players like Cliff Pennington, Jemile Weeks, Ryan Sweeney, and Kurt Suzuki can provide some offensive hope for 2012, whether Josh Willingham brings any tasty goodies in return in his inevitable trade, and whether Grant Balfour can break the record for cusses in a meaningless September game.
So far so good in this game, as David Price was wild and the A's let him beat himself, taking the free men on base and driving them home with timely hits. As I understand it, Cliff Pennington is on an unholy tear with the bat, and he made excellent contact in this game.
I'd like to say something like "the A's didn't need all six of their runs because of Brandon McCarthy's pitching," but to my eyes, there was a significant amount of luck in his only allowing one run to cross the plate (on a Ben Zobrist homer in the eighth). McCarthy didn't, I believe, get a single swing-and-miss after the second inning. Unsurprisingly, he also didn't get any strikeouts after that point. This meant a metric ton of balls in play, an inadequate number of which fell in for hits for the Rays, despite this hardly being a Cahillian performance full of dinks and bleeps and squibs. There were a number of hard-hit balls off of Tampa's bats, although it's easy to forget them because it seemed like they all went right to Oakland fielders. That is, it's easy to say "Wow, McCarthy got lucky that David DeJesus made that diving catch down the line in right!" but it's harder to remember the significant fortune that comes from a series of grounders that happen to go right to Cliff Pennington.
This isn't to write off McCarthy's performance entirely, of course, since he did a decent job overall of keeping the ball on the ground, not walking batters (again, after the second inning), and keeping the ball in the yard. Purely on quality of pitches and contact allowed, this game won't go in the trophy case, but it won't be hidden away in the basemen, either.
More detail, as always, tomorrow.