Live Blogging: Blue Jays @ A’s Game 125
9:31PM PDT: 6-4-3 double play to retire Aaron Hill and the Toronto Blue Jays on the evening. A’s win! Great outing from Rich Harden, especially in light of the jam he got out of in the first inning. Willingham’s 21st home run is the difference. Do it again tomorrow.
9:27PM PDT: Andrew Bailey in to close it out for Oakland. Fifteen shutdowns and four meltdowns on the year for #40. Great 0.9 WAR year for Bailey, pretty impressive given the amount of time he missed on the year.
9:20PM PDT: Brett Cecil is removed from the game, Shawn Camp is put in. In reality it was a pretty good outing for Cecil who just got no run support. His one error was the home run allowed to Josh Willingham which plated the two A’s runs. On the day, he walks five, and K’s four A’s, while allowed four hits, so his FIP for the day is a decidedly messy 5.86.
9:17PM PDT: Bautista steals third. Man this dude can do it all. Not sure how its a good strategy for Toronto. Any of these guys can tie the game with one swing, does it matter if Bautista with two outs is on second or third?
9:13PM PDT: Again Jose Bautista squares around to bunt. Don’t get that strategy, of all the guys to bunt for a hit him?
9:10PM PDT: A’s skipper Bob Melvin pulls out his textbook and the textbook says, eighth inning means Grant Balfour. Balfour comes in with a 1.99 ERA but much higher 3.25 FIP and has been worth 0.6 WAR in 2011. He has posted some great numbers, 8.5 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and 0.7 HR/9 with a very nice but unsustainable .226 BABIP and 87.8% strand rate.
9:04PM PDT: Eleventh strikeout as he gets Escobar! What a great outing from Harden tonight, matches a career high. Really amazing outing, seven shutout innings, two hits allowed, four walks and of course 11 K’s. All adds up to a great 1.58 FIP on the game and a .373 WPA on 115 pitches. Nice.
8:47PM PDT: Ten strikeouts from Rich Harden as he gets Rasmus for a second time! Pitch count is getting up there (96) but what a great outing for Harden. Bet Boston is kicking themselves for their wavering on that deal now…
8:45PM PDT: Nice play by Weeks to save a run. It’d be nice to see him continue to improve his defense.
8:43PM PDT: Marine layer saves the A’s lead. Anywhere else that hit by Lind would’ve found its way into the seats. A’s keep the lead. Bautista is a good all round ballplayer, tags from first and gets to second. He really is underrated, as much as someone who leads in All Star votes can be underrated.
8:37PM PDT: It’d be nice to see Brandon Allen get his first HR as an Athletic right here with Matsui aboard on a single and Willingham on via the base on balls…
8:29PM PDT: Nine K’s through five for Harden. Wow.
8:24PM PDT: I know ultimately a no-hitter is kind of meaningless especially in a 2-0 game and Willingham made the right move, there’s the fan in us that wants him to go all out and dive for it and at least try and save the no-no. Alas he did not and J.P. Arencibia has the first Toronto, the 18th batter to face Harden tonight.
8:19PM PDT: Well that inning was a waste. Jackson and Zuk walk and despite two men on one out, nothing comes of it. A’s might not need anymore runs with how Harden is pitching, but sure would be nice to have a cushion.
8:07PM PDT: Seven strikeouts in four innings for Rich Harden – another great outing against Toronto for him. Given his decent performance (and tonight it is thus far stellar) this year and the interest of clubs like the Red Sox and Yankees in him at the trade deadline, it wasn’t surprising the A’s put him on waivers to explore options for potentially dealing him. Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com reported that he was placed on waivers on the 15th, so I asked Joe Stiglich of the Bay Area Newsgroup about this and he as always was helpful. I knew that teams had 48 hours to make a claim, meaning that if someone claimed Harden it would have happened already, but what if someone had claimed him, how long did they have to work out a deal? Stiglich answered that once a team puts in a claim they have 48 (more) hours to work out a deal. I don’t think Harden could have possibly gone through waivers unclaimed, so if he was claimed, it’d seem a deal could not be worked out (or a team did it merely as a block) because we certainly are very close to that second 48 hour mark at this point if not already past it.
7:54PM PDT: Bautista walks. On television gotta say it looks like it was a bad call, however Pitch f/x care of BrooksBaseball.net casts some doubt. That all said if the fifth pitch was a strike, it seems the sixth should’ve been too, though Pitch f/x says neither should be.
7:50PM PDT: Escobar swings through three straight pitches. Harden has some filthy stuff today after having some trouble early in the first inning to start out the game.
7:29PM PDT: Josh Willingham golfs it to the staircase beyond the left field wall! Home run number twenty-one! The errant throw on the previous play that allowed Jemile Weeks to get to second safely and avoid the double play pays its dividends. A’s jump out to a 2-0 lead. How big are those three strikeouts from Harden looking now? A’s have a lead they seemingly have no business having.
7:20PM PDT: Wow. Nine pitches, nine strikes. After making a mess for himself, he strikes out Lind, Encarnacion and Colby Rasmus on nine straight pitches. Strange inning!
7:18PM PDT: Encarnacion just waves at it. Terrible pitch to swing on, Kurt Suzuki kept that in front of him – not easy. Two straight K’s and he is almost out of this mess. BrooksBaseball.net shows just how far outside that pitch was despite Encarnacion flailing at it.
7:16PM PDT: Big strikeout from Harden to get Adam Lind swinging. Now the team can play for an inning ending double play.
7:09PM PDT: Another pitcher error – this one on the first pitch of the game – results in Yunel Escobar reaching first base.
7:07PM PDT: Rich Harden takes the hill for the A’s to face the Blue Jays, he really took care of them his last time that he faced him (August 9th) when he had a fantastic outing (seven innings pitched, eight K’s, two walks, the lone run coming on an Edwin Encarnacion HR). The A’s face Brett Cecil, who also squared off against Harden in that very same August 9th game, also going seven innings but allowing two home runs, with two walks and five strikeouts. On the year the left-handed Cecil has a 4.73 FIP and has been worth 0.5 WAR, while Harden has a 4.51 FIP (a big time victim of the long ball, 1.6 HR/9 and 13.1% HR/FB) and has been worth just 0.3 WAR. Brandon Allen is still in the lineup despite the lefty on the mound, getting the nod at first base, but likewise Bob Melvin keeps Conor Jackson in the mix with him getting the start in right field. With Hideki Matsui and Josh Willingham in the lineup, Coco Crisp moves into the second spot which is great as it means Cliff Pennington slips (rightfully so) to last.