So much Rich Harden. So much for Nick Swisher. And so much for the big, bad Angels. Nice, isn’t it, that there were more than a couple of A’s-related items going on in the opening round of the baseball playoffs. Here’s my take on them:
— Harden’s performance in Game 4, in retrospect, was entirely predictable. I had thought getting out of Wrigley would help the Cubs, and I momentarily thought Harden might drop the hammer on the Dodgers’ lineup. But I should’ve known better, at least on the latter thought. Harden, between his injuries and his inability to be his dominant self when it’s most needed, ranks up there on my list of guys who get the least out of the most. An acquaintance of mine who’s a huge Cubs fan said he didn’t think Harden pitched terribly in Game 3 of the NLDS. But in a situation where you hope a guy that dominant pitches seven or eight shutout innings, he gave up two right away, and the Cubs were immediately behind the 8-ball. Reminded me of when he pitched Game 3 of the AL Championship Series two years ago against Detroit. A’s were down two games, and Harden gave up two runs in the first inning that day, too. Great pitchers don’t do that. That’s why Harden isn’t great.
— Joe Blanton, on the other hand, was nails for the Phillies in Game 4 of their NLDS-clinching win over the Brewers. No surprise there. Blanton always has been a guy who’s gotten more from less. I know he had a rough regular season with the A’s, but he still hasn’t lost a decision as a Phillie, and he has that bulldog mentality that makes him a guy you won’t on the hill in a big game. He’ll keep you in the game, whether it be 2-1 or 6-5.
— Nick Swisher got only four at-bats in the White Sox’s four-game loss to the Rays in the ALDS. Think it’s safe to say he’s fallen out of favor with Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen. He was relegated to the bench down the stretch. He had a horrible second half and hit below .200 against lefties. If you’re the White Sox, do you move him?
— Mark Kotsay was a very nice add for the Red Sox. Totally agree with Mychael Urban’s assessment of him.
— Wrote in my preview that it would behoove the Angels to win Game 1 of their series against Boston. Once they didn’t, they were up against it, and it wasn’t surprising to see them lose. Playoff baseball is totally different than the regular season, so going 8-1 against a team in the regular season means zip when you have such a long line of postseason failures. Nice thing for the Angels, though, is knowing that they’ll perennially be the team to beat in the AL West.