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Tuesday, May 17, 2011
A's 5, Angels 4 (10): Three Up, Three Down

By Mark Saxon

The A's waited through another rain delay, played another extra-inning game and watched their bullpen blow another lead, but here's something new: After Monday night's 5-4 loss to the Oakland A's in 10 innings, they're out of first place for the first time this month.

The Good:

Rare clutch hit. When Howie Kendrick came up with a two-out, two-run single in the seventh inning, it was as if rain began falling on a parched landscape. Up to that point, the Angels were 3 for their last 36 at-bats with runners in scoring position. When you hit .083 at the most important times of a game, you're rarely going to win.

Moth balls. How does Bobby Wilson do it? In his first start in more than five weeks, he somehow came up with two of the Angels' eight hits. Wilson started behind the plate for the first time since April 10, an almost-unheard-of stretch of bench-riding.

Starter. This wasn't Joel Pineiro's most crisp outing this season -- he allowed 10 base runners -- but if you get seven quality innings from your No. 4 starter, you really shouldn't complain.

The Bad:

The blow.. er, bullpen. Lots of things are happening when Fernando Rodney and Jordan Walden get into games these days. Things like walks, hits, wild pitches. Those aren't good things when you're trying to protect the fragile leads the Angels' offense can muster these days.

Holes. Five of the Angels' nine starters went hitless. This offense is built around continuity rather than power, so that generally starves the team of runs. Struggles from Bobby Abreu (.255) and Torii Hunter (.230) are particularly troubling since this group needs veteran leadership.

More Rodney. Let's dwell for a moment on Rodney, whom Mike Scioscia referred to recently as "a little command-shy." That seems to be a bit of an understatement. Rodney has given up runs in six of his last 10 games, blown three saves in that time, allowed 17 base runners, including four walks and a hit batsman and only gotten 22 outs. Otherwise, he's a rock at the end of games. Should he still be pitching at the end of games?