Current Series

7/30, 5:05 PST
Oakland (Lucas Harrell) @ Chicago (Brett Anderson)

7/31, 1:10 PST
Oakland (John Danks) @ Chicago (Dallas Braden)

8/1 1:05 PST
Oakland (Gavin Floyd) @ Chicago (Gio Gonzalez)

Previous Series:
Texas 3, Oakland 1
Oakland 3, Texas 1
Texas 7, Oakland 4

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Games 93-95 Recap or Are the A's as Good as the Red Sox?

Boston 2, Oakland 1 (WPA Graph from Fangraphs)
Oakland 5, Boston 4 (10) (WPA Graph from Fangraphs)
Oakland 6, Boston 4 (WPA Graph from Fangraphs)

A's Current Record: 48-47

The short answer to the question in the title of the post is "no."  But, there's a pretty good argument that the A's are about as good as Boston right now.  Obviously, there's the results of the past series, where the A's beat the Sox twice in three games and outscored them Red Sox by two runs over the series.  And there's the fact that Eric Patterson, who the A's cut, played in two of the games for the Red Sox.  Of course, most of this has to do with the injuries Boston is currently dealing with.  Their DL looks worse than even the A's.  Jason Varitek, Victor Martinez, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Lowell, Jeremy Hermida, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Josh Beckett are all sidelined, meaning the Sox were down to their third best catcher, 5th and 6th best OFs, and backups at second and in the rotation.

The bullpen really carried the A's throughout the series, something they haven't exactly done to date.  Don't get me wrong, the bullpen has been perfectly fine so far this year, but they haven't dominated the way I thought they might considering the years that Andrew Bailey, Michael Wuertz, and Brad Ziegler had in 2009.  Against Boston, the bullpen pitched 10 scoreless innings, allowing the A's to survive Gio Gonzalez' poor start on Wednesday and Dallas Braden's short stint on Tuesday, and to stay alive in the pitcher's duel on Monday night.

None of the A's starters were particularly dominant, but the depleted Red Sox offense couldn't take advantage of the mediocre showings of the A's starting staff.  Ben Sheets' line from Monday looks fine -- 6.2 IP with 2 ER, but he only struck out two and gave up a fair number of fly balls and line drives.  Dallas Braden, coming off of the DL to make Tuesday's start, also struggled.  He couldn't make it out of the fifth and gave up 10 hits.  He did strike out 6, which is encouraging, but 11 baserunners in under five innings is not a recipe for success.  Gio's start was also mediocre at best; he gave up four runs in six innings and only struck out three.

Offensively, the A's were pretty lucky in scoring their runs until yesterday's game, when they actually hit the ball well.  Monday night's scoring came off of a solo shot by Rajai Davis.  On Tuesday they managed to score five times, despite getting just 6 hits.  The five walks they took helped, as did their aggressiveness on the basepaths against Tim Wakefield.  They scored the four runs in the third thanks in large part to a double steal and a passed ball.  In their lone legitimately solid offensive performance, the A's scored six times, getting homers from Jack Cust and Matt Watson (his first in the majors) in addition to 10 other hits and 5 walks.

Although their playoff chances keep getting slimmer and slimmer, it's nice to see the A's beat a good team for once, instead of pounding on the dregs of the AL and in turn getting pounded by the elite teams.   With the White Sox coming to town, the A's have a chance to prove themselves yet again against a team with actual playoff hope.  We'll see if the A's can keep winning games and keep their playoff chances alive for at least a few more days.

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