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Oakland (Lucas Harrell) @ Chicago (Brett Anderson)

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Game 45 Recap or Sweep Sassy Molassy

Oakland 3, San Francisco 0 (WPA Graph from Fangraphs)

A's Current Record: 23-22

The A's wrapped up their homestand with a sweep of the Giants and find themselves above .500 and only 2 games behind Texas in the AL West.  As usual, pitching was the story of the game, as Ben Sheets and Jonathan Sanchez both had very strong outings.  Sheets got more support from his defense and bullpen, giving the A's the 3-0 win.

For the third time in four games Sheets struck out 8 batters --- and for the third time in four Sheets starts, the A's won.  Bob Geren attributed Sheets' recent success to a new cutter, but I think his success stems from an overall sharpness that he was missing earlier in the year.  I know sharpness is vague, but today's game was a good example of what I mean. 

Sheets did not have his best fastball early, but his curve was working very well.  Early in the year, he was hanging a lot of breaking pitches, something he's been doing much less frequently as the season's gone on.  As the game progressed he did pick up some velocity to his fastball, and successfully mixed in his change later on.  His command looked as good as it has all season, as he walked only two Giants and 60 of his 97 pitches were strikes. 

Sheets' strong start, along with some great defensive helped the A's survive another tepid offensive performance.  Mark Ellis made a great leaping catch with two on and two out in the fourth inning to keep the game scoreless and Rajai Davis got a great jump on Aubrey Huff's long flyball in the ninth.  The A's offense needed the help because they weren't able to do much at the plate.  They managed only five singles and a double (along with six walks), and were a little lucky to get even three runs, especially given Daric Barton's annoying tendency to bunt way too frequently.

Hopefully this stretch of good outings from Sheets represents a return to form for him.  He won't always face lineups as bad as the Giants', but it looked like the stuff he showed today would play against any team.  After playing very well at home, we'll see if the A's can do anything on the road.  They start a 10 game road trip tomorrow, that includes tough series in Boston and Detroit.

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