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AZ 6, A's 4 - No More Swoonin' June

Record: 38-42. Change on last season: -1

That was an unexpected treat. We finish the month of June as we started it - with victory. Not that there were all that many wins in the middle: six, to be precise, as we finish June at 8-20. That's the third worst full month in franchise history, beaten only by our very first, April 1998 (7-19) and the utterly wretched July of 2004, when we went 5-23. If you lived through that - and I know I barely did - then this will seem like Misery Lite.

For once, the pieces came together. We got a quality start from Vargas; some clutch hitting to fight back after Oakland tied it, Arizona scoring three times with two out in the seventh; the bullpen held up, allowing only one run in three innings; and we even got a bit of luck, Eric Byrnes scoring the go-ahead run (against his former club - the fans still seemed pleased to see him) on a wild pitch.

That seventh inning was the key. Another collapse seemed almost inevitable, the A's having come back against Vargas with three runs in the bottom of the sixth. It looked like earlier failings to pile on would come back to haunt us: we had the bases loaded with no outs, and a run in during the fourth, but could only add one more, and Green reached third base with one out in the sixth, and was left there. We could - indeed, should - have been 5-0 up or more.

Actually, strike that. Perhaps the real key was to be found in the bottom of the sixth, in the A's failings. Specifically, Antonio Perez, who came to the plate with three runs already in, and the go-ahead run at third base with one out. However, Vargas induced him to pop out in foul territory to Tracy, then Kotsay, too, couldn't get the ball out of the infield, and the A's had also blown their big chance.

We would strike before they could get another change: after the wild pitch scored Byrnes, Estrada singled, scoring Jackson, and then Green doubled home Estrada. Those two were our offense, going 6-for-10 combined, with two runs scored and three RBIs - quite why they were buried at six and seven in the lineup, is a mystery whose answer is known only to Melvin. Tracy also had a pair of hits, on a night when everyone bar Counsell and DaVanon reached base safely twice or more.

Vargas picked up the win, for six innings of six-hit ball, with three walks, five K's and three earned runs. Medders allowed two hits and one run over the seventh and eight innings, while Julio bounced back from his outing last night, to pitch a 1-2-3 ninth and get the save. For Oakland, the loss went to former D'back Brad Halsey, who was made to work particularly hard, throwing 50 pitches in 1.2 innings of work. After some early lumps, our patience was fine: 170 pitches for 43 hitters, just under four per batter.

Thanks to a lively Gameday Thread contingent, consisting of Devin, William K, azshadowwalker, Devin, Keith and suitsmetoATnT for their input. I scoped out the McCovey Chronicles GameDay Thread for their game as suggested by suits: like us yesterday, they blew a ninth-inning lead by conceding two runs and slumping to defeat. And were rather vocal about it, I admit (though the in-game comments were hardly Wildean or Cowardesque). But give them a June like ours, then see how vocal they feel - I suspect, like us, by the end of the month they too would meet defeat with a shrug and a "Told you so".

The AZ All-Star (not named Webb) has been chosen, according to voters here - in what was, convincingly, the biggest turnout for a poll yet. And the winner is:

  1. Johnny Estrada: 30%
  2. Eric Byrnes: 25%
  3. Chad Tracy: 12%
  4. Craig Counsell: 8%

Congrats to J-Strada: we should know on Sunday whether he or Webb will be our representative. I think it will probably still be Webb, but you can't argue with Estrada's production this year. Too much to expect both of them to make it, I fear.

[, evening update]

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Today: The end of June