The first epic battle of the season is 3/4 done, and we can do no worse than a split. Once again, the Angels and A's play a 1 run ballgame. After the game I checked out the win probability charts on fangraphs. Looks like our odds were 85-90% going into the 9th, but the Piazza leadoff single brought us down to about 70%. Then, one pitch later the DP ball brings us back up to 95% or greater, before Shields K's Swisher to end it. I think the Fangraphs site has live updates you can follow, but when its that close, I'm too busy watching every single pitch in the game to visit any site.
I was a little nervous with Carrasco pitching the 8th. Hector has done an outstanding job ever since Stoneman traded high school outfielder Stephen Englund to the Nationals for him. Englund hit .183 in rookie ball so that's a pretty good trade. These draft compensation deals don't always work out like Oakland getting Nick Swisher and Mark Teahen for Johnny Damon. Hector has pitched extremely well for a little over 2 years now. Last year, he did most of it in mop-up roles, he wasn't quite trusted. There are good reasons why he wasn't completely trusted, in that he was 36 years old and coming off the only good season in his career. I watched him pitch with Baltimore in 2003 (didn't even pitch in the majors in 2004) and he was as marginal a reliever as you could imagine. His biggest problem was lack of command, but he's got it now.
Shannon Stewart made a few nice catches tonight. Last night the Angels got a bunch of hits in his general direction. In any case he's a major step down from the outfield Oakland had last year. He's not that old at 33, but its been 3 years since he hit like a corner outfielder. Marginal bat, marginal glove, and he's unlikley to hold up to everyday play to boot.
Mike Piazza, freed from the tools of ignorance, looks really good. Seems healthy, and stinging the ball. He's taking well to the DH role and is going to continue to be a problem for us.
Travis Buck is a rookie who deserves some respect. Very little experience, none above AA, but he can hit. He's the classic example of what a hitter looks like who doesn't have power but will develop it - big guy, line drive swing, hits an obscene amont of doubles. The only question is if he develops the power later this year, next year, or in 2010. He'll be like Garret Anderson with less average and more walks.
Eric Chavez doesn't scare me any more. I shouldn't say this because I don't want to do a reverse jinx and have him hit 2 HR and 5 RBI off Escobar tomorrow, but he just doesn't seem the player he once was. Swisher and Bradley scare me a lot more.
Finally, a big thank you to the A's for not throwing Rich Harden in this series.
Top players (Panthers if you will):
Bat - The OC - didn't have a run or rbi, but reached base 3 times with 2 2b and a walk. He was smokin the ball
arm - Lackey. Great game.
glove - No big plays really stand out, but Maicer had a really good game.