By Jason Wojciechowski on May 3, 2004 at 7:03 PM
After narrowly taking the first two games of the series against the Devil Rays, mainly on the strength of Erubiel Durazo's massive shoulders, Oakland couldn't close out the sweep of Tampa Bay, losing 8-2 last night. As an 8-2 score implies, they played pretty badly.
The offense managed seven hits and no walks against the luminescent Tampa pitchers, Mark Hendrickson, Travis Harper, and Danys Baez. Tim Hudson allowed eight runs in seven innings. Three of those runs were "unearned" due to two Oakland errors, including one on my favorite whipping boy, Eric Karros.
Karros was in the lineup because Hendrickson is a lefty, but he apparently can't even hit portsiders anymore, going 0-4. At this point, with Scott Hatteberg hitting like he used to, and Karros hitting like my grandma did last year, I think Ken Macha should rethink his "not strictly a platoon" to mean "Hatteberg starts all the time and Karros is relegated to cheerleader." On the other hand, maybe I'm overreacting to a small sample size. That said, Karros is over the hill, and counting on him for any important at-bats is not something you'd like to see a contender do.
At least Eric Byrnes continued to rip, going 2-4 with a double and a homer as the leadoff hitter and center fielder, with Mark Kotsay getting the day off. Byrnes leads the team in EqA, at .331, and only trails Jermaine Dye in VORP and RARP because of playing time. To ride out this hot streak, I think Byrnes has to play every day for the forseeable future, sitting Kotsay against lefties and Kielty against righties. There's talk of Kielty giving up hitting left-handed, though, so we'll have to see where that goes.
The Carl Crawford watch continues, by the way, as he stole his 14th base of the year.
What's the A's prescription as they go home to face the Yankees and Twins? Play better. Pitch better, play better defense, hit better ... it's not really a matter of sitting a certain guy or playing some other guy, because the team is just not all that impressive right now, in any facet of the game. Every team has slumps, so don't take this as desperation or despair on my part. I think Oakland is a better team than they've acted during this road trip, so I think their play, and thus their record, will come around to reflect that eventually.