By Jason Wojciechowski on August 28, 2003 at 3:42 PM
That's right, everybody get up and dance like there's ass in your pants, because the A's are the sole possessors of first place in the American League West after beating Baltimore last night while Seattle lost to Tampa Bay.
It was basically a good all-around performance, as near as I can tell. Barry Zito
threw like we all know he can, going eight innings, giving up six baserunners
and two runs and throwing just 104 pitches. It was his best outing in a month,
going back to July 28, when he went seven innings against Anaheim but got a
no-decision. The perception, which I share, that Zito hasn't been very good
this year is similar to the perception that Tim Hudson has been off his game.
Zito's sixth in the AL in ERA, ninth in WHIP, sixth in SNWAR, and tenth in VORP.
The problem is that his two teammates, Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson, are ahead of him in all four of those categories. Combine that with an 11-11 record, and the impression we get is of a pitcher who's not pitching up to expectations. His ERA, though, sits somewhere between his 60th and 75th percentile PECOTA projections, which is hardly the profile of an under-achieving player. Zito's had tough luck with the A's offense, just like Tim Hudson, but we can't hold that against him.
The offense wasn't fabulous, but only Scott Hatteberg didn't make it on base (unfortunately, he was hitting leadoff; don't take that as a criticism of the decision to bat him first, though, since I'm perfectly happy with he and Billy McMillon switching off that spot for the rest of the year, leaving Terrence Long to hit seventh) and Oakland worked Hentgen's pitch count, making him throw 113 pitches in just four and two thirds innings.
I made a mistake yesterday: the Red Sox dropped a game somewhere along the way that I didn't notice, so they were actually a game back of the A's and Mariners coming into yesterday. They won, though, so they remain tied for the wild card with Seattle, a game back of Oakland. How does this affect the current playoff odds? The A's now have better odds than both the Red Sox and the Mariners: Oakland stands at 72.8%, Seattle at 61%, and Boston at 69.2%. Seattle's not going to continue to play this badly until the end of the season, so Oakland has to pad their lead now.