On another cold, cold night on the A’s road trip a couple of young guys and a couple of old guys came up huge. What more can you say about Greg Smith that hasn’t already been said? He’ll likely end the season with a 4+ ERA, but this kid is the real deal. He’s not overpowering anyone, but he’s shown a great knack for locating both his fastball and his off speed pitches. For a young guy, he’s done an extremely good job of working his way out of jams and not worrying about baserunners. Maybe that’s because he erases them himself, as Smith picked two off tonight on the basepaths.
We could go into a whole 3 page article about Smith, but his battery mate showed again tonight that he is a great piece of this Oakland puzzle. Kurt Suzuki played extremely well last year in place of Jason Kendall and has proven this year that he not only calls a terrific game but he can put the bat on the ball too. Suzuki’s take-pitches-and-then-hit approach is perfect for the Oakland system. He does it extremely well too with a penchant for working deep in the count and then putting the bat on the ball and pushing it through the infield or slapping it into the outfield. Kurt is now hitting .370 with his 4-4 performance tonight.
Let’s not overlook the verterans though. Mike Sweeney and Emil Brown both went 2-4 tonight. Sweeney scored both runs, one on a Brown RBI. Brown also played great in the outfield. He didn’t have any assists, but there were two or three times when a ball was hit down the line or in the gap and he rounded on it quickly and delivered strong, accurate throws back in. In a game where every base counts (as you could tell by Chicago’s announcers sucking off Swish for his taking of third base in the 8th) Brown did a great job of holding the extra base hits down.
Another great night for the back porch as it improves to 4-0 on the season (Tigs 2-0, A’s 2-0). Street did give up a hit to Dye in the 9th, but he was absolutely filthy to the other 3 hitters he faced. That’s 4 saves on the season and another scoreless game by the bullpen. Based on our tendacies to hit into double plays and waste 2 on with no out situations this year, we’re going to need that bullpen all year. Tonight it worked out and the A’s still hold the division lead 14 games in. Until next time, enjoy the games, enjoy some brews, and most importantly, if you know Travis Buck’s stylist’s phone number, e-mail me pronto.