Take me down to Paradise City, where the grass is green and Alex Gonzalez isn't the third baseman!
That line comes up because the beginning of that song was played one of the times A-Gone came to bat during the game.
I can't believe Lugo was given an error in the 9th. I was at the game so I couldn't see a replay but I don't know if the runner would have been out even with a more accurate throw. That was a very difficult play, he ranged well up the middle then had to adjust his angle (as he got the ball he was running in the direction of the bullpen) and throw immediately and quickly because the runner was coming down the line hard. The easiest way to avoid errors is to not get to the ball in the first place; Lugo was demerited for getting to a ball that would have either gotten by or only been knocked down or caught in a dive by most shorttops, leaving chance for a throw. Lugo made three fantastic stops with his range tonight but only one produced an out, that's great defense but bad luck.
It was good to see Crawford doing well defensively tonight, he hasn't looked like himself this season but he was right on with a great catch at the wall and a couple other good plays.
Speaking of Crawford, I saw a weird outfield shift for him during the at-bat that he smashed the line drive that Hatteberg made a great catch on. The left fielder was in normal position, the center fielder was at least 20 feet towards left field from his normal position, and the right fielder was playing pretty close to the line. That left a massive gap between center and right field; I guess Oakland must have data showing that Crawford doesn't hit a lot of balls to that area and if Hatteberg hadn't caught that line drive they would have had him played perfectly in the outfield. Against a normal alignment a ball hit that hard has a chance of going to the wall for a double or triple, with that shift on it would have gone straight to the right fielder, ensuring that Crawford stops at first base.
Waechter had two good things going and one very bad thing tonight. The good things were a 12/10 G/F ratio (he's normally an extreme flyballer, hence the home run problem) and only walking one against a patient lineup. The bad thing was not striking out a single batter of the 26 he faced and only getting two swings and misses the whole game. That's a little flukish but not entirely since Waechter hasn't had an acceptable K rate since 2003. You can't maintain success striking out as few batters as he has this season and last, especially since his control normally isn't anything special and he usually has a lot of fly balls hit against him, some of which inevitably go over the fence.
It's a one-run game, the Rays in the lead. It's the bottom of the 7th, there are men on 2nd and 3rd with two outs. An extra run or two would go a long way towards making the chances for victory improve. In 2004 a team in the Rays situation (home team, 7th inning, 2nd and 3rd, 2 out, 1 run lead) won 72.7% of the time. Change that to a 3 run lead with a man on first (assuming a single sending both runners home) and it goes up to 90.4%. Obviously it's a big deal to get those extra runs across if at all possible, you're going from losing more than a quarter of the time to winning 9 times out of 10. So anyway, Travis Lee is the batter and the A's bring in a lefty to pitch to him. Could somebody please explain to me why Eduardo Perez, a man who has no purpose except hitting left-handed pitching, ISN'T pinch-hitting for Lee in that situation? That's a critical point in the game and if I didn't see with my own eyes Lou walking around the dugout like normal I would have concluded that he was asleep, or maybe drunk.
Something is obviously wrong with Colome. His velocity is way down (only hit 94 a couple times tonight and that was with a lot of visible effort) even though his delivery appears to be almost back to normal. He can't be depended on right now until he gets that back, it's unbelievable that he keeps getting sent out there in important situations when he has yet to prove that he can pitch well.
Speaking of someone proving they can pitch well, can we please see Jon Switzer again? He should have been the one to relieve Fossum on Sunday, not McClung. He was warming up in the 5th but suddenly in the 6th the situation apparently demanded McClung. Why, I don't know. I would have much rather had another lefty come in since it would have kept Delgado and Pierre on the bench for a while, allowing Lou to use Miller later when the Rays had a righty come in and they pinch-hit. Also, while Switzer has only had that one performance, he pitched well in it; it's not like McClung could be trusted at all, he has struggled all season and was a big risk to make things worse (which he did). Carter hasn't been much better a lot of the time, though he did have a solid outing in that game. Still, it's absurd that those two were the first in the game while Switzer apparently got no consideration past the 5th inning. Same thing in tonight's game, Switzer warmed up (alongside Harper) in the 6th but once it hit the 7th he was basically ignored as a possibility.
Lou, give him some innings! How can you evaluate him as a potential starter or a guy that can pitch high leverage innings if you never see him? If you keep waiting for the "perfect" middle relief opportunity then he's never going to get consistent work, he needs to pitch some. He has the potential to be part of the solution to your shaky bullpen, he might even be part of the solution to the more pressing problem of the shaky starting rotation. You won't know that though unless you let him prove or disprove himself in the majors. If that means putting him in a higher leverage situation and risking him blowing a game, so what? You haven't had a problem all season doing that with McClung or the completely out of whack Rob Bell.
A big part of the problem is trusted relievers and favorites. This isn't a Lou problem though, it's a frequent issue with managers (just ask a Yankee fan about Torre's bullpen decisions). They have certain relievers they like or trust (even when they aren't doing well) and are reluctant to use new ones or guys that they are unsure about. Lou trusted Harper this season because he had no other choice, Carter was bombing and Colome was on the DL. Lou likes Baez, Colome, McClung, and Miller. He appears to be lukewarm on Carter and only somewhat trusts Harper, because he has been forced to this season. Since he doesn't know Switzer, he doesn't want to use him when it can be avoided. Again, it's a manager problem in general, not a Lou problem, but for this team to keep improving (and despite the poor won-loss record they have done better of late) there needs to be a Lou solution to the bullpen, and that starts with finding out whether or not Switzer can do the job.
Speaking of relievers, tonight's game marked the end of a fairly remarkable streak. Up until tonight Travis Harper had walked seven batters on the season, every single one of them intentionally. That ended with his eighth walk of the season, an 8th inning unintentional pass to Matt Watson.
Josh Phelps was only a triple short of the cycle tonight, which for him is probably only a little closer to hitting for the cycle than going 0-4 would be. Can't be complaining about his speed though when he can hit the ball farther than anyone on the team when he gets good contact on one.