Oakland 3, Cleveland 0 (WPA Graph from Fangraphs)
A's Current Record: 40-41
An oft used cliche about baseball is that in every game you'll see something you've never seen before. While I'm not sure that every game does have something that is interesting and unique, last night's key moment sure was special.
With the A's winning 3-0 in the bottom of the sixth, Gio Gonzalez gave up three two-out singles to load the bases. Indians' catcher Mike Redmond then lined what appeared to be another single to right, bur Ryan Sweeney made a great heads up play to throw Redmond out at first. I don't think I've seen a right fielder throw a batter out at first base in an American League game before (I feel like I've seen pitchers get thrown out at first on grounders to the outfield) and I've definitely never seen it come at such a crucial time in the game. Had Sweeney not thrown Redmond out at first, the Indians would have had the bases loaded with two outs, trailing by two. Instead, the inning ended with the A's 3-0 lead intact.
Not only did Gonzalez get a bit lucky with that play, he was pretty lucky to be entering the sixth with a shutout. His control was spotty, especially in the beginning of the game. He walked two batters in the second and another pair in the third before he settled down; after the third, he didn't walk another Indian. Craig Breslow and Andrew Bailey finished the game for Gio. Breslow retired the four batters he faced and Bailey pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the save.
At the plate, the A's scored their three runs on six hits and five walks. They could have broken the game open, though, as they left the bases loaded in the first and the sixth. Strangely, they struck out 5 times against Mitch Talbot, a guy with a career K/9 of under 4.5. While strikeouts generally aren't any worse than other types of outs, since the A's rely heavily on getting singles, they need to get the ball in play more than most teams to get base runners. Striking out once an inning, especially doing it against a finesse pitcher like Talbot, is not good news for the A's.
All in all the three runs was enough and they've pulled back to within a game of .500. Halfway through the season we have a pretty good idea now of what the A's are. A team that can definitely beat the dregs of MLB, but are probably not good enough to compete in the surprisingly good AL West. A midseason review will be coming sometime this week.