Oakland 2, Seattle 1 (10) (WPA graph from Fangraphs)A's current record: 1-1
Well, we came into this season knowing the A's would be playing a lot of close, low-scoring games decided by the bullpens, and so far they're meeting those expectations. Another game where it looked like they might squander a golden opportunity to win it only to lose later, but Mark Ellis came through with 2 outs in the 10th to set up a rubber match with the Mariners tomorrow.
First things first, Dallas Braden looked absolutely awesome today, racking up 10 strikeouts, keeping his pitches down, getting a lot of swinging strikes (he made Milton Bradley look horrible on a couple of occasions) and only walking one batter. Granted, Seattle's lineup isn't particularly good, but he absolutely dominated, with only the fluke run (on a balk and wild pitch) counting against him.
Of course, on the other side the A's "offense" consisted of a Kurt Suzuki home run (yay extra base hit!) and, well, that was about it until the Mariners decided to bring in a Rule V pick in a tie game in the bottom of the 9th. I know Don Wakamatsu was trying to avoid using anyone from yesterday's game on back-to-back days, but you've got to bring in David Aardsma there --- it's the most high leverage of situations, and you stick in a rookie making his major league debut who's never pitched about AA. That's a gift that the A's almost didn't take advantage of.
Which brings us to the daily whining session, centered around the bottom of the 9th inning. You get a lucky, broken bat blooping double from Travis Buck to set up 2nd and 3rd with 1 out, then a mostly intentional walk to Cliff Pennington (Wakamatsu REALLY thought the A's might squeeze there) to have a bases loaded 1 out situation. I was watching the game with a non-A's friend fan who wondered why the A's weren't pitching-hitting for Rajai Davis. I said it was probably because Geren thought he was unlikely to strike out, which, of course, he did, looking horrible in doing so. I hope it wasn't because Davis has somehow reached the "never PH for" status by virtue of being the leadoff man, because there are going to be times where it should happen. I think putting in Gabe Gross here might have been the right move, though he is K prone.
In any case, with the bases loaded and a 1-0 count, Rajai never should have been swinging. That's a take all the way, especially against a nervous rookie having trouble locating in his major league debut. Now multiply that sentiment by a thousand when it comes to Daric Barton making a half-hearted swing on a 3-1 count one batter later. Yes, it was a strike, but I'd take my chances with a full count --- he definitely should've taken there.
Ultimately, Ellis made it all moot with his game winning hit, and the bullpen looked pretty solid (though Geren, why would you leave Ziegler in to face Ichiro and then bring Breslow in? Why not bring Breslow in to begin with?) and the A's walked-off with a win.