Oakland 5, Pittsburgh 0 (WPA Graph from Fangraphs)
A's Current Record: 36-40
I don't think there's a better game to watch for 70's era throwback jerseys than the A's and Pirates. The A's gold jerseys are awesome, though I suspect if I had to see them more than a once or twice a year I'd consider them to be hideous. Put that together with the Pirates' black and gold jersey, including black pants and silly looking hat and you've got a very visually appealing game. I also like how the A's broadcast had the throwback graphics and even Duane Kuiper's goofy hair and mustache. Sure it was silly, perhaps even outright stupid, but it really was a lot of fun. Throw in the actually results of the game and this game was probably even more fun to watch that Friday night's blowout.
Until recently, calling Trevor Cahill, Trevor K-Hill has been a reminder that he didn't actually strike guys out than it was an intimidating nickname. Last year his strikeout rate was just 4.53 per nine and through May his strikeout rate remained below 5.0. In June, though, he's upped his strikeouts big time, culminating in last night's 10 K masterpiece.
As excited as I was to see Cahill pitch so well, Bob Geren absolutely should not have sent him out for the eighth inning. Through seven innings he had thrown 101 pitches and the A's had a safe 5-0 lead. I know that 100 pitches isn't a magic threshold and that the 113 mark isn't an abusive total, but there really is no reason to risk any sort of injury. To start the eighth the A's had a 98.2% chance of winning and those odds would be very similar with the A's finishing the game with Cahill + Bailey as if they had gone with Bullpen + Bailey.
Another thing I'd like to point out was Daric Barton's at bat in the first inning. He came to the plate with Coco Crisp on first, but Crisp stole second to move into scoring position. Too many times this year Barton has bunted a fast runner from second to third in the first inning, and this has been the source of much consternation, most notably from Joe Posnanski. This has frustrated me to no end, but hopefully yesterday's performance will show him the error of his ways. Instead of bunting, and even in lieu of trying too hard to pull the ball to advance the runner, he mashed a double the opposite way, giving the A's the early lead with a good chance to add on.
With one more game against the Pirates and an upcoming series in Baltimore the A's have a chance to sneak back up towards .500. At the beginning of the year I would have been happy with a .500 record halfway through the year, but unfortunately the Rangers and Angels have both played better than I expected. Nonetheless, it'd be nice to see the A's around the .500 mark, even if the A's playoff hopes are really, small. As unlikely as it is, its always possible that the Rangers and Angels could struggle a bit, and if they do, it'd be a shame if the A's weren't in a position to take advantage of it.