By Jason Wojciechowski on September 1, 2003 at 4:13 PM
Oakland swept the Devil Rays by winning a couple of close games yesterday and the day before. Seattle was busy beating up on Baltimore, so it was important to beat a team they were supposed to beat.
On Saturday, Ted Lilly's pitching led the A's to a 4-2 win. Lilly threw six and two thirds innings, giving up just three hits and a walk for one run while getting seven strikeouts and ten ground balls. Chad Bradford, Ricardo Rincon, Jim Mecir, and Keith Foulke finished things off, with Foulke getting his 37th save of the year.
Bradford struck out Toby Hall to finish the seventh, but gave up a home run to
Marlon Anderson to start the eighth. When Al Martin pinch-hit for Antonio Perez
next, Ken Macha countered with Rincon, so Lou Piniella brought in Damian Rolls
instead, who knocked a single. Rincon struck out Carl Crawford, though,
bringing up Julio Lugo. Macha called Mecir from the bullpen, whereupon Rolls
was caught stealing. Good thing, too, because Mecir then walked Lugo.
Fortunately, he struck out Rocco Baldelli to end the inning.
Foulke's ninth inning was as uneventful as usual: he threw a five-pitch walk to Aubrey Huff (showing that he's even economical when he's walking guys), struck out Adam Piatt on three pitches, got a first-pitch foul-out from Travis Lee and a second pitch fly out from Toby Hall. In other words, eleven pitches to get out of the inning, even though he started things with a walk. That's impressive.
The offense was back to its usual unremarkable self, with only Eric Chavez' two doubles and a Scott Hatteberg homer to note. Terrence Long showed that the eighth spot isn't the same as the seventh, as he went 0-3.
The A's pulled out a close one last night, apparently with the help of the umpires. In the fifth inning, the A's scored three of their four runs. Erubiel Durazo started things off with a walk. Ramon Hernandez came up, then, and appeared to strike out when he attempted to check his swing, but the first-base umpire ruled that he didn't go around. Hernandez eventually walked, and a few singles, a sacrifice fly, and a double later, the A's took the lead for good.
Obviously, I didn't see the play in question, but when all of one time is protesting as vigorously as the Devil Rays are, I'd be inclined to believe that the A's got extremely lucky to pull out their ninth victory in a row here.
On the not-luck side, Rich Harden struck out ten and gave up three runs in his
seven innings, regaining the form he showed earlier in the half. Then again, it
was back to pitching against a bad team, so who knows what we can take from it.
Once he pitches well against a team like Seattle or Texas or Boston, I'll start to be convinced that he can be something special. For now, he's a pretty decent fourth or fifth starter.