A's spoil Kickham's debut, complete two-game sweep

USA TODAY Sports

The Giants were unable to kick out the hams.

Well, shoot.

If you pretend it was a spring game, it kind of made sense. Kickham went a couple, just like he was supposed to. Javier Lopez got some work in, and boy howdy, Chad Gaudin didn't do himself any favors battling for that last bullpen slot. All in all, though, the important thing is that we all sat in the sun and got drunk.

Except it wasn't a spring game. And we didn't get to sit in the sun. And I don't know about you, but I was out of beer and liquor all night. And Mike Kickham was drubbed in his major-league debut. And A's fans did the wave. It was awful, unspeakably awful.

The best news of the night is that the season series against the A's is already half-over. There used to be six of these things every year, you know. It's not like the A's always kill the Giants -- this was the first series against the A's the Giants have lost with Buster Posey in the lineup, after all -- but I have the feeling this permutation of A's is built to give this permutation of Giants a little trouble. The A's hit home runs; the Giants give up home runs. The A's lead the AL in walks; the Giants are third in the NL in walks allowed. It's like a poster board on symbiosis for the sixth-grade science fair.

The last time these two teams played each other, the A's were 10 games behind the Rangers in the A.L. West and four games under .500. Tyson Ross got the loss the last time the Giants beat the A's. Clay Hensley got the save. The Great Belt Wars weren't even in full swing. We didn't know that the A's were a talented collection of power-hitting goofs and talented young pitchers.

At least this series is over, and the Giants can get back to San Francisco to play the … aw, dammit, come on. Already tired of the A's.

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But we'll always have Mike Kickham's first inning. Remember that? I can't wait to get the DVD when it comes out. It was pretty transcendent -- nine pitches, good velocity and life on the fastball, and some impressive breaking stuff. The start was kind of a bust, but you could at least see how Kickham could be a successful pitcher one day.

You can cherry-pick three Jonathan Sanchez pitches out of any start and use them to say the same thing.

Oh, shut up, voice in my head. I'm serious. The low-90s fastball had good movement, and both the curve and slider were impressive. As much as I want to say he got squeezed, there isn't a lot of evidence to support that. Still, it was nice to watch a young pitcher with promise. For a while. Beats calling up the Giants' equivalent to Ramon Ortiz. Who is probably going to be Ramon Ortiz now that the Blue Jays have designated him for assignment. Guh.

I just hope that Kickham's family got to see the start. Does anyone know if his family was there to see the start? Seems like they should have been there to see the start. I hope they got to see the start. Hopefully, someone will subtly let me know if Mike Kickham's family got to see the start.

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For as much razzing as I've given Bruce Bochy for his bullpen management this year, I actually liked it when he treated the third inning as if it were the eighth inning, bringing in George Kontos for a hitter before going to Javier Lopez. It was 4-1 at that point -- still a winnable game -- and that was the save situation of the night. It would make no sense to bring in Sandy Rosario or Keiichi Yabu or whatever with the bases loaded, and save Kontos/Lopez for the later innings. If everyone has to pitch in a bullpen game anyway, why not use the better relievers in the higher-leverage situations?

It was pretty saber-savvy of Bochy, actually. It's people like him who filled Dustin Ackley's head with LIES.

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Buuuuut, that's enough praise of the big man because it's time for this week's installment of Bochy vs. Logic! If you're new to the game, we're keeping track of how many times Bochy loads the bases with an intentional walk. Which is one of my least favorite gambits in baseball. Drives me up the freaking wall. Tonight pushes logic back in the lead:

Logic: 2
Bochy: 1
Push: 2

I don't even remember what I was considering a push, so I've probably ruined this bit already. Regardless, with one out and a young pitcher on the mound, Bruce Bochy loaded the bases on purpose. The idea is to put a force at any base and hopefully get a double play. The risk is that a bases-loaded situation maximizes the hitter's leverage, especially when the pitcher falls behind.

The move rankles me when extreme-control pitchers like Madison Bumgarner are told to do it. When it's a pitcher who walked over four batters per nine innings in Double-A last year? I don't know, man. That just seems like an awful, awful idea.

I wouldn't trade Bochy in for most managers, so it's probably a good idea to write nice things every once in a while. That way, people don't think I dislike the guy. So here goes: I love how gigantic Bochy is because it makes him look like he's going to eat the umpire in the middle of an argument.

Bochy_medium


See? Now that's a manager I can get behind. Even if the walk-the-bases-loaded gag still gives me a rash.

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