The A's and Giants both won 7-4 in basically the only two games that mattered in the baseball world yesterday (I'm sorry a Yankee victory over the D-Rays doesn't cut it). 1974 was of course the year that the first Oakland dynasty won its third straight World Series. It was also the last year that Bobby Bonds, Barry's dad, played for the Giants. Barry Bonds turned ten in 1974 and ticked off his first reporter. Lastly, Butch Metzger pitched his first major-league game with the Giants in '74. Some memorable events in the Bay Area in good ol' '74.
In Oakland, for the second consecutive start Mickey Calloway got knocked around by the A's hitters. The last time, the Angels' batter later rescued him, but not yesterday. Calloway's combined numbers for the two games: 7 innings pitched, 10 hits, 10 runs, 9 earned runs, 3 home runs, 5 walks, 5 strikeouts, and 141 pitches. That's an 11.57 ERA for the two starts.
And yet Calloway seemed to be cruising through the first three innings. Mark Ellis had homered off of Calloway in the second-a nice line drive to left-, but the A's had just two other baserunners and trailed 2-1 through three. A's Barry Zito was the one that seemed extremely hittable in the early going. He continually went to breaking stuff evincing no confidence in his fastball (as Joe Morgan kept pointing out). His first out of the game was a sac fly by Salmon to score the first Angels run. Zito struck out the last two hitters of the inning (on 11 pitches) to apparently settle down. But the second was more of the same for Zito-he escaped further harm after Scott Speizio was thrown out at home on a close play after a nice relay throw by Mark Ellis. After Ellis' homer tied it, Zito allowed a bloop single by Erstad on a very slow breaking curve. Then allowed him, by not pitching out the stretch, to take second without drawing a throw-generously scored a stolen base by the official scorer. Erstad then scored on a Tim Salmon single. The top of fourth was especially ugly for Zito: walk, double (run scored), bunt, questionable hit batsman (it looked like Eckstein leaned into it), single (second run scored), deep fly out, and finally fly out. It looked like he was done, and I went to sleep missing the rest of the excitement (until this morning's SportCenter).
Eric Chavez and Jermaine Dye hit back-to-back monster home runs to dead center field with one out in the fourth to tie it. Calloway got rattled, walked Mabry on 7 pitches, and then went 2-0 on Mark Ellis, evened the count, and then plunked Ellis, thereby drawing the curtain on his outing. Dennis Cook came in to face the lefthanded Terrence Long and Greg Myers and to turn Ray Durham around at the plate. Terrence Long who bats almost equally well (or poorly depending on your point of view) against lefties singled and the Durham, four of whose 15 home runs have come from the right side, homered to left-center. The A's somewhat erratic bullpen shut down the Angels the rest of the way, and now the AL West is all knotted up again. Amid all the talks of the superior Angels lineup by Joe Morgan, one that could not be shut down, the four through seven hitters went a collective 0-for-13 with 4 strikeouts, three walks, and one run scored.
I am left wondering why Scioscia did not move Kevin Appier and Ramon Ortiz up to finish the series pitching on three days' rest like he did with great success with Jarrod Washburn. Or why not insert Scott Schoeneweis, who has at least had reasonable success against Oakland (2-3 with 5.06 ERA in 7 starts and 9 relief appearances in last 4 years; 1.95 ERA in 4-2/3 this year), into the rotation for the series. Much has been made of the Angels' great staff but without a reasonable replacement for the injured Aaron Sele, the Angels' have some trouble. Much like the Dodgers, having a strong rotation (seven starters all year) limits the Angels' options once a starter goes down.
In LA, Kevin Beirne took his lumps giving up three runs, 5 hits, and six walks through 4 but did not figure in the decision. Robert Ellis was used in long relief as I advised Tracy to do yesterday to allow pitcher Russ Ortiz' home run (the fourth of his career) and collect the loss. They Giants built up a 7-3 lead in the ninth. Robb Nen came in to close out the ninth in a non-save opportunity, and in typical fashion allowed a run. One might be impressed that the official scorer did not rewarding Nen's ineffectiveness (2 walks, a single, and a deep fly-out by Green) with a save. That was my though when I first glanced at the box score, but Nen was never eligible for a save. Even though the criteria for a save were met (the man on deck was the tying run), the situation was of Nen's doing and undeserving of a save:
SAVES FOR RELIEF PITCHERS
Credit a pitcher with a save when he meets all three of the following conditions: (1) He is the finishing pitcher in a game won by his club; and (2) He is not the winning pitcher; and (3) He qualifies under one of the following conditions: (a) He enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning; or (b) He enters the game, regardless of the count, with the potential tying run either on base, or at bat, or on deck (that is, the potential tying run is either already on base or is one of the first two batsmen he faces); or (c) He pitches effectively for at least three innings.
Nen does qualify under 10.20 (1) and (2) but not under (3). He entered with a four-run lead ((A) does not apply), the tying run was not on deck until he pitched him there (so (B) does not apply), and he pitched only one inning (so (C) does not apply). The scorer can be commended for not rewarding Dave Roberts with a stolen base when he took second to an indifferent Giant reaction.
So now what? Both series finish up today: 14-game winners Appier vs. Hudson in Oakland and Hernandez vs. Perez in LA. The Dodgers need a well-pitched game from Perez, who has not made it past the sixth in his last three starts, to take the pressure of its tired and depleted relief corps. San Francisco would love to take 3 of 4 in Los Angeles and leave the Dodgers for dead. If the Dodgers win, they would then trail by one game and then face lowly San Diego (who has caused LA trouble) in 7 of their last 9 games while the Giants still have a series with the Astros. In Oakland, Hudson looks to extend his seven-game personal win streak. Appier needs to return to his form earlier in the month when he completed a 5-game win streak. The winner here gets the lead in the final leg of the race. Anaheim then faces the suddenly hot Mariners (winners of four straight and still theoretically in the race) for 6 of their last 9. Oakland draws the suddenly cold Rangers (losers of six straight) for 6 of their last 9.
By the way, the Expos were officially eliminated from the postseason yesterday. If they do move away from Montreal after this season, then they just missed their last chance to bring home to Quebec a world championship, not that anyone cares.