Saturday, March 17, 2007
Spring Training 2007: Watch Out for Pitchers Named Joe
Today's weather at Phoenix Muni was a record-breaking 99 degrees, but we lucked out when a large cloud formation came and sat above us, taking in about four or five innings.
Just enough to watch the second starting pitcher in a row, Joe Kennedy, have a bad outing and, in his case, increase his ERA to a football game-like 20.48. He's had 31 hits against him in his last 9 innings. Thank God this is spring training and not April. And this performance followed one by Joe Blanton last night, who allowed 4 runs in the first inning. The entire crowd was chanting, "We don't need no Joe's!" And these are the A's fans!
A's management decided to only play two regulars today, at least in the first few innings. So we saw Mike Piazza DH (who made the team's first 3 RBI's in this game, including his first homerun as an A player), and we saw Nick Swisher play center field. Oh, and Dan Johnson started at first. But the rest of the infield looked like a line-up you wouldn't recognize. But that's a cool thing about spring training: many of these players are the future stars. And most of the fans knew their names. Travis Buck, in particular, looks like he's ready for that step up, but he won't see it in the first few months. Others, like the Rule 5's Jay Marshall and Lou Merloni, will be costly if they're not kept on the roster. And we got a chance to see most of them in one game.
Joe Kennedy's start, however, gave us a rather large hole to crawl out of, and, like last night, they never managed to do just that. The final was Brewers 11, Athletics 4. But the final score is never the idea behind spring training.
Jay Marshall replaced a battered Kennedy, and promptly got the next two outs to end this sad 3rd inning. He then went on to pitch well over the next inning, prompting some fans to yell, "He's our fifth starter!" Jay's submarine approach was a reminder of previous A's player Chad Bradford, except that Jay is a leftie.
And since the weather wasn't too horrible, I was able to sit there for a good six innings, quite pleased with the game in spite of the final score.
On my way out, I spotted Lew Wolff, the new owner, come down out of his suite. I smiled at him. He smiled back. We agree that we have the best team in baseball.