July 30, 2006

Bradley Makes AN Day 3 One to Never Forget

Cross-posted on Athletics Nation...

If any A's fans were on the fence regarding Milton Bradley before today, they've made sure to jump on The Gamer's back now, after he struck the final blow, a three-run shot with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, to bring the A's back from the jaws of defeat, sending them off the homestand victorious, having taken 3 of 4 from the Blue Jays. Since the All-Star Break, Bradley has been a giant among men for the A's, and his walkoff, the first of his career, was as dramatic as you'll see.

But beyond the final swing (what  a swing!) some elements cannot be overlooked.

* Mark Kotsay was ridiculously great in forcing a 12-pitch walk from vaunted Blue Jay closer B.J. Ryan, extending the game. He fouled off seven pitches, and took ball four, bringing Bradley to the plate as the potential winning run.

* Huston Street picked up the victory, but also proved many ANers right by folding in the 9th after sitting on the bench after having closed out the 8th. As we've seen a number of times this season, Huston hasn't had the tenacity to save a game when called upon to get more than three outs. To reach the status of a Mariano Rivera or other storied closers, he will need to develop this skill.

* Eric Chavez! The guy's hurting. We all know it, but he hasn't asked to take a day off. Even as his hitting is returning (he was in the 5 spot today, going 1 for 4), his defense is still top-notch. He was a defensive machine today, getting everything that went his way.

* And lastly, Shane Komine. Though he didn't pick up the victory in his major league debut, he left the game after six full with the A's on top. After the first pitch, he took the ball and threw it into the dugout for a keepsake, but the next pitch was a home run by the Jays' leadoff batter, giving the fan a keepsake themselves. After that, he was nearly lights-out, finishing with only four hits and four walks to go with the one run. He could be a great alternative to Saarloos if the league doesn't figure him out.

AN Day 3 could not have ended better. There was much more about AN Day 3 to discuss, and it will be discussed, with photos, but for now, we can rest in the glow we all felt when Bradley mashed that final pitch over the wall. For yet another day, the A's will go to bed in first place... alone.

Some sneak peek photos from AN Day 3... which saw A's GM Billy Beane and radio broadcaster Ken Korach entertain us with their stories and answering Q&A before the game, which also saw the first 15,000 receive Dan Haren bobbleheads at the gate. Billy Beane said he didn't expect any big moves to happen at the trading deadline, so barring a near-term apocalypse, we can all rest easy regarding Zito. I'll let others recap those discussions, but to whet your appetites, here are three images from AN Day 3. Others more adept at photography will no doubt follow with pictures that include more of the AN crew!

Click for a larger version of each...

Dan Haren strikes a pose with the Coliseum in the background.

Ken Korach talking to Blez prior to the game, with Beane listening.

Billy Beane answering questions from AN with Korach and Blez listening.

For a group photo of the AN crew listening to Billy Beane and Ken Korach, you could click here. I warn you... Nico and I are too closely featured. You've been warned.