Thursday, May 1, 2008

Cust Giveth, Cust Taketh Away!

It truly was a feast or famine series for the Oakland A's hitters as they faced the co-division leading Los Angeles Angels. In game one of the series, the A's pounded out 16 hits, while defeating the Halos 14-2. The next two nights, the A's could only manage a single run TOTAL as the Angels won 2-0 and 6-1 behind the pitching of Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana.

The Angels called up their top prospect, Nick Adenhart to pitch against the A's Justin Duchscherer in the final game of the series at the "Big A" in Anaheim... Adenhart and "Duch" both pitched perfect first innings... From there though, things kind of unraveled. Adenhart completely lost the strike zone in the second inning, walking four hitters, while giving up two hits as the visitors scored four runs.

The bottom of the second inning was very eventful for the A's and especially one Jack Cust. Cust came into the game with the 4th lowest batting average of any qualified batter in the majors at .176. He also had only hit one home run in 68 at bats. After clubbing 26 home runs and driving in 82 in only 395 at bats while hitting .256 last year, many (including myself) were expecting big things from Cust this year. Despite his low batting average, Cust at least was still getting on base, walking 22 times for a very respectable .385 on base percentage.

Getting back to the game, Duchscherer appeared to be ready for his second straight perfect inning as Garret Anderson hit a lazy flyball to Cust in right field. Inexplicably though, Cust dropped the ball! Anderson reached second base on the play. Duchscherer clearly got rattled by the play, and the floodgates opened as the Angels pounded out five consective hits. The big blow was a 3-run homer by Erick Aybar. When the third out was finally recorded, the Angels held a 5-4 lead.

Given Cust's error and his slow start with the bat, he could have just hung his head and sulked... instead, it turned out to be a career night for him. After walking in his first time up to bat in the second inning, he grounded a single up the middle in his next at bat in the top of the third. His third time up he connected on his second home run of the season to give the A's a 7-6 lead in the fifth inning. That homer was the start of an eight run outburst for the A's. Cust walked as he came up for a second time in the inning and scored on a Darren O'Day wild pitch to give the A's a 14-6 lead. Cust singled again in the 6th inning, and singled again in the 8th inning for his first career four hit game. Once the dust was finally settled, the A's had a 15-8 win, and were back into a first place tie with the Angels, just as things were before the series began Monday night.

For the night, Cust came up to the plate six times, and the Angels never retired him! With his perfect night, he raised his batting average 46 points to .222, and his OBP 38 points to .423. As many of you know, Cust is a VERY streaky hitter. When he gets hot, he gets RED HOT, so it may not be a bad idea to pick him up and get him into your lineups if you're a fantasy leaguer.


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