Purgatory Online

Monday, April 26, 2004

I've been putting off writing about the Angels' sweep of the A's all day, mostly because I've got honest-to-God, you know, work to do, and partially because I didn't see yesterday's game thanks to the vagaries of the DirecTV broadcasting schedule. Obviously, the big story - aside from coming back from two games down in the standings to grab a piece of first place - was the lack of nuclear meltdown in yesterday's game by Ramon "Nofu" Ortiz, who pitched five innings, gave up two runs on five hits, struck out six, and walked three on 110 pitches. Lowering, I might add, his ERA to 9.77.

Perhaps most impressively, Ortiz started very poorly yet managed to right the ship. He walked the first two, and three in the first inning, but Bud Black managed to keep him in the game via what I can only assume was some righteous ass-chewing during a mound visit. Ortiz wound up walking no one else during those five innings, and his ball:strike ratio improved dramatically.

Even so, the underlying numbers continue to look bad. 110 pitches is a hell of a lot to throw in five innings, although the A's are a very patient lot. Ortiz was saved by the double play in both the first and the fifth innings, and the A's also stranded runners in scoring position in the fourth and second. Ultimately, this game won't do anything to change Scioscia's mind about Ortiz; if he thought that Ortiz could be a valuable part of the rotation before yesterday, he surely continues to think so now. But it didn't do much to change my mind about him, either.

I'll say this much: although I'm not reading too much into these last three games as regards the Angels' fortunes, if I were an A's fan I'd be a little bit worried that the offense has gotten so thin. The back of that rotation is looking vulnerable, and, with the offense 10th in runs scored and 10th in OPS, it's looking like they'll need near-perfect pitching to keep up. Now, when you've got Hudson, Mulder, and Zito, you've got near-perfect (starting) pitching, but they've got just no slack at all - if one of them gets injured, or even has an off year, the A's will have a hard time winning in other ways. The sweep seems to have exposed their weaknesses more than our strengths.