By Jason Wojciechowski on May 20, 2004 at 2:24 PM
Oakland's split the first two games of its home series against the surprising Tigers. We knew they'd be better, but who figured they'd be essentially a .500 team at this point? They're just two games worse than the A's right now, though they of course play in an easier division.
Tuesday's game saw Jeremy Bonderman shut down the A's yet again, holding them to one run (Erubiel Durazo's seventh homer) in seven innings. The whole "Bonderman beating up on the A's" thing is getting a little annoying, both the constant harping on it any time it happens and the fact that it does happen. Rich Harden had another quality start for the A's, giving up three runs in six innings despite striking out just two and walking three. He gave up a lot of fly ball outs, also, so maybe we should consider it lucky that he escaped with his nice 3.95 ERA still intact.
Ricardo Rincon proved his ever-uselessness by giving up a two-run homer to Craig Monroe in the top of the ninth that turned a two-run game, winnable against the Tiger bullpen, into a four-run match, which is a little harder to overcome, especially with the demoralization factor that comes from the jump from "almost there" to "need a grand slam just to tie."
Yesterday's game went better, as the A's apparently were on the same page with their scouting reports against Mike Maroth this time, touching him for four runs on three homers in 5.1 innings. Two of those homers were hit by Bobby Kielty, who had hit Maroth successfully before last weeks game, and appears to be back on track this time around.
Jermaine Dye also had his ninth homer of the year, and he seems to be settling into a nice groove. He's not hitting like he did at the start of the year, but who needs that? He hits some homers, some doubles (he added his ninth one of those, also), walks occasionally (14 in 169 PA's), and is generally the solid presence in the cleanup hole the A's have been waiting for him to be. Not that he's been a disappointment performance-wise before, of course, but with the last two years being completely lost to injury, and Erubiel Durazo not quite able to crack that .500 SLG barrier, a power guy in the middle of the order, even one with a middling on-base average, has been desired.
Speaking of middling, Mark Redman gave up two runs in five innings, but probably had some luck, given his seven hits (just one for extra bases, a double) and three walks allowed. That's two base runners every inning, but only a single run in the second and third innings. That's pitching out of jams.
Justin "Ducky" Duchscherer continued his nice pitching run, throwing two scoreless innings despite giving up four base runners himself, on two hits and two walks. Jim Mecir and Chad Bradford then threw perfect innings to close things out, with Bradford striking out all three batters he faced. That's a nice sign from Bradford, because with the notorious volatility of relievers, it's good to have a cheap guy hanging around who you can depend on for outs in the seventh and eighth innings.
The rubber match is this afternoon, 12:30 Oakland time, with Tim Hudson going up against Gary Knotts. I like Oakland's chances to take another series win and go four games over .500 for the first time in a little less than a month (April 22, 10-6 after a win over the Mariners).