(AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Starting Pitcher: Straily, 3-2, 4.67 ERA

The matchup for Thursday’s game didn’t look that great to me for the Oakland A’s: Quintana is a better pitcher than most people realize, and Dan Straily has been throwing the ball over the plate at an absurd rate the past few games and doesn’t have the stuff to survive doing that for long. Also, knowing that the White Sox had just seen him last week, I anticipated they’d come into the game looking to be aggressive early in counts and jump on his fastball.

That’s exactly what happened, as they were aggressive all night and found some success. He retired the side in order for the first two innings, but the third turned out to be a bit of a mess, as he had a runner on with two outs and none in and allowed three runs to score – the main damage coming on an Alexei Ramirez 2-run single. Credit to Straily, as he really battled the rest of the night, only giving up 1 more run the rest of the way and putting in a Friend-of-the-Bullpen 7 innings. 5 of the innings he pitched were perfect, which is amazing when you look at the peripherals. He also got help from his defense/White Sox, like when third base coach Joe McEwing decided to send catcher Tyler Flowers home on a single to right field. I guess McEwing hasn’t heard the old adage “Don’t run on Josh Reddick”, because Flowers was out by a mile at home plate.

Final takeaway – SP: Straily was a gamer and did extremely well to go 7 innings, but the peripheral stats still scare me for  future performances: 13 fly ball outs to only 4 ground ball outs, 8 line drives against, and only 3 K’s. He also had a total inability to hold runners on, evidenced by A. Ramirez stealing second by such a margin that neither Lowrie nor Rosales even took a step towards second to cover. Ramirez had taken 2-3 running strides towards second before Straily even started his delivery. Could Straily be one of those Jeremy Hellickson type guys, who consistently outperform their peripherals and don’t regress when expected to? The sample size is too small to know yet, and Hellickson might be a bad example, as he has regressed this year, something all the stats guys have been expecting for a few years.

I am lower on Straily than most other Oakland fans – I just don’t see the stuff there to be effective as he’s been for the past few starts on a consistent basis employing the approach he’s taken to. He turned his season around on May 21st against Texas by starting to throw the ball over the plate; when I watch him I certainly see an improvement in control, but not as much in command. He’s not walking many batters recently with this approach (3 BB in his last 4 starts, 26.0 IP) , which is a marked change from the starts before May 21st (11 BB in his first 5 starts, 26.0 IP).  But he still doesn’t paint corners, and when you don’t have overpowering stuff,  there’s bound to be some regression, and we might be starting to see it. The fact that the White Sox are often referred to as “punchless” doesn’t make me feel any better – 28th in runs scored, 26th in AVG., etc.

I’m pulling for the kid, and he’s had some really awesome outings, even against tough opposition like Texas – but the league will adjust to him and his strike throwing approach sooner rather than later, and it’s how he counter-adjusts that’s going to tell whether he’ll succeed long term.


Everything Else

Yesterday looked like a loss almost the entire game, but it seems like the A’s don’t let that cross their mind or give any sort of thought to the possibility of losing these days. It’s fun to watch the A’s when they’re rolling like this, because the resiliency inning by inning is there, and seldom do you get the sense that they’re put away in a game.

This is mostly because they hit a whole lot of home runs. I’m talking 9 hits in this game, and 4 of them were homers. If you’re an Oakland A’s fan, you are probably used to this, and are probably real down with it.

Listen, I’m under no pretensions about this team – we can’t field. At all. Watching the A’s try to make difficult plays in the middle infield is like watching a little leaguer try to take one out of the Coliseum with a fungo. We clap and say ‘nice try!’, but deep down there’s a feeling in our stomach; if you’ve tried and failed to pinpoint it, that feeling is a mixture of pity, sadness, and disgust. It’s a heady brew, and fortunately the thing that makes it feel better is a home run.

We also don’t hit for average, except for Coco and Lowrie, or when we accidentally develop someone who does, like Josh Donaldson. Whoops! We took a catcher and turned him into a third basemen and now he’s hitting over .320 with great defense!


What we do well is hit long balls, and plenty of them, and we hit them in situations that demoralize the opposition. Every time the White Sox got a run last night, we had some sort of answer, whether it was Cespedes making sure that Yasiel Puig doesn’t steal all his Cuban swagger by homering twice in a game for the second time this week, or Reddick finally hitting his second homer of the season. Every inning the White Sox scored a run, the A’s answered with a run in the next inning.

Of course, the game wouldn’t be complete without a bit of classic A’s magic, when Adam “Crazy Legs” Rosales hit a high inside fastball down the left field line for a go ahead shot in the 10th and then proceeded to sprint around the bases, giving his native Chicagoan family precious little time to applaud his achievement. There was a moment when Crazy Legs rounded third and the camera sat on fill in White Sox manager Mark Parent in the dugout. He was holding a stopwatch, timing Rosales.

And sulking. He was sulking too.