Oakland 4, Tampa Bay 2 (WPA Graph from Fangraphs)
A's Current Record: 16-15
Because of MLB's TV contract with Fox, I couldn't see today's game - and neither could anyone except for the 15,000 people at the Coliseum. I understand that Fox is paying a lot of money for the broadcast rights, but it's hard to justify the policy that caused yesterday's game to be blacked out. All Saturday day games for every team are blacked out because Fox might want to show it as the nationally televised game. This is especially absurd in the case of yesterday, when the Red Sox-Yankees game was the Saturday Game of the Week. Pigs will skate on the frozen ponds of hell before an A's-Rays game is shown nationally instead of a Red Sox-Yankees game.
As good as it was to hear Ken Korach's voice, it would have been nice to see Ben Sheets's most dominating start of the year. His eight strikeouts were a season high, more than twice the number he's had in any game so far. Two of those Ks came in the sixth, indicating that he was still going strong deep into the game, something he had problems with even before his last few starts. Sheets did his best work against the Rays' formidable 1-6 hitters, as they went 3-17 against him with six strikeouts.
Bob Geren deployed his bullpen in an interesting way yesterday, bringing Brad Ziegler in the eighth to face Zobrist, Longoria, and Pena, with Zobrist and Pena batting from the left side. Ray Fosse mentioned that Ziegler's been focusing on changing his approach against lefties and if he can be successful in those situations, he becomes even more valuable. Striking out Zobrist and getting Pena to hit a weak popup may be a sign that he's made improvements in that area.
The A's offense was once again sufficient, scoring four runs on nine hits and two walks. Three of the hits went for extra bases, as Sweeney tripled and Kouz and Patterson doubled. The A's had chances to add more runs, as they hit sac flies in the first and second, both of which were situations where base hits could have broken the game wide open. Also, Cliff Pennington's "successful" sac bunt in the seventh following Patterson's double actually lowered the A's win expectancy.
A win today would give the A's a winning homestand, not a bad accomplishment given that they played the leaders of the AL East and West.