Thursday, April 09, 2009

Mental Midgets - A's 6; Angels 4

Nick Adenhart's six scoreless innings should have been enough to win. He escaped jam after jam, usually of his own making, before leaving after 98 pitches with a 3-0 lead. He allowed seven hits, walked three, and struck out five. He tossed two perfect innings, but I was impressed by how he responded with runners on. Last year, he was a disaster when pitching from the stretch. But last night he had to pitch with runners on in four innings, and three times allowed the lead off runner to reach, but still found a way to escape those jams and leave unscathed.

Unfortunately, his team could not hold the lead, and what should have been a nice night for Adenhart turned into a nightmare for the home team. After a solid seventh inning for Jose Arredondo, a Chone Figgins run pushed the lead to four. Scioscia, who would have turned to Shields in the 8th inning of a three run game, left Arredondo on the mound. He allowed the first two runners to reach before Scioscia went to Shields, who struck out Travis Buck, and induced a ground ball to third base from Mark Ellis. Instead of going to third for the sure out, which is what he undoubtedly should have done with a four run lead, Figgins chose to throw home to cut off Jack Cust at the plate. Napoli couldn't handle the throw, allowing Cust to score and Ellis to reach. A wild pitch and base hit later, and what should have been a three run lead was down to one.

Brian Fuentes, sharp in his debut, walked Giambi to lead off the ninth inning. After retiring Buck and Cust, Kurt Suzuki tapped a ball in front of the mound, and a miscommunication between Napoli and Fuentes turned a close play into no play. Nomar Garciappara's single drove in the tying run, and Matt Holliday gave the A's a two run lead they wouldn't relinquish.

I'm not going to revisit the meltdown thread on Halos Heaven, but personally, I place the blame for this game on Figgins. He made a huge mental error when he tried to cut off Cust at the plate, and it led to two more A's runs in the eighth inning, meaning Fuentes had no margin for error in the ninth. Fuentes failed to deliver, but that's going to happen over the course of a season. Poor performances are unavoidable. Mental errors are unacceptable. Gary Matthews, inserted as a pinch runner and defensive replacement, may have had a play on the Garciappara single in the ninth, but it looked like he lost it in the lights, and I'm not sure he would have gotten to it anyway. Make no mistake, I don't like Gary Matthews, but I don't find him at fault here.

Kendry Morales delivered two hits and is off to a solid start this season. Juan Rivera also delivered two hits, and Mike Napoli had an RBI double and a walk in his season debut.

An early test tonight, as the Angels throw jered Weaver, one of their true starting five against Brett Anderson, who is not the former lead singer of Suede.

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