Before the Sox left for Oakland, Ozzie Guillen stated that he had a good feeling about the road trip despite the teams 5-23 slump in whatever they're calling the Coliseum now. On Tuesday night, he managed like he had luck on his side... and it came back to bite him.
Jon Garland used all of Ozzie's luck to get through 7 innings without yielding a run, and I seriously don't know how he did it. I had to keep changing the channel when it was the A's half of the inning because it's no fun to watch a control pitcher struggle with his control, so I literally have no idea how Garland got through 7 innings unscathed. Check that, I did see a couple of highlights of him making nice defensive plays, but the point remains. He looked very pre-'05 out there Tuesday night.
The Sox offense was in full Kason Gabbard/Julian Tavarez mode, doing their best to blow a solid start by a starting pitcher. Ozzie chose to help them out in the 7th.
When Alex Cintron lead off the inning by reaching 3rd on an error, Ozzie chose not to pinch hit for Rob Mackowiak (.239/.296/.351 vs. LHP) with Alan Embree on the mound. Mackowiak had started in place of the struggling Jermaine Dye (.285/.375/.490 vs. LHP), who was joined on the bench by Brian Anderson and Pablo Ozuna. After Mackowiak's predictable out, Juan Uribe, who has been the Sox best batter at getting a run home from third since he arrived in the trade with Colorado, struck out, leaving Ozzie another opportunity to pinch hit, this time for Scott Podsednik (.270/.341/.316 vs. LHP while wearing in a Sox uniform). The Sox would not score.
The score remained 1-0 in the Sox favor entering the bottom of the 9th. Two 89 MPH fastballs from Bobby Jenks later -- Yes, you read that right. Bobby was reading below 90 at the start of his outing Tuesday night -- and the A's had two baserunners. It was at this point I realized that Scott Podsednik, the rag-armed pixie, was still prancing around the outfield while Jermaine Dye and Brian Anderson, who must have contracted leprosy -- That's the only reason I can think of for them sitting on the bench in the 9th inning -- continued to chew sunflower seeds on the bench.
Bobby settled down for the next two batters, touching as high as 93 on the gun. But with two outs, guess where the ball was headed? That's right, just like last year when every Mackowiak start in CF meant we'd see something like "3B -- Molina (1)" in the box score, the ball found the most overrated defensive outfielder in the game. Peter Pan.
Todd walker hit a single in the hole to left field. Pods charged it and put every bit of pixie dust he could muster behind it, and amazingly, cleared the catcher. It was the first time I've ever seen him get the ball to the catcher without hopping it three times. Unfortunately, AJ still had to run and pick it up.
An intentional walk later, Pods was once again the center of attention. Mark Ellis lifted a deep flyball to the left field wall that any decent, non-Canseco outfielder makes the play on easily. Pods tip toed back to the wall. Jumped. Closed his eyes. And the ball hit him in the farking head. Illustration forthcoming.
I'll never understand why Ozzie, who is so willing to play the handedness game with his relief pitchers -- See last night: Pulling Thornton in the 9th to go with Jenks in a what was now a non-save situation -- and was looking to give up outs in the first inning last night against Harden, is unwilling to call for a squeeze (my favorite play in baseball) in the 7th or pinch hit late in a 1-run game with three viable options on the bench. The decision to stick with Pods in the 9th and to refusing to pinch hit for Mackowiak and Pods in the 7th is inexcusable in a game as tight as this.
The offense didn't play well, but Ozzie somehow found a way to be worse.