Kennedy's effort spoiled in Bronx

Kennedy's effort spoiled in Bronx

NEW YORK -- Sitting alone in a sparsely populated area of the visitors' clubhouse at Yankee Stadium late Friday night sat the first half of Oakland's season in a nutshell.

Nick Swisher, one of the few players on the A's who hasn't been on the disabled list, was slumped in a chair, his body criss-crossed in thick bandages straining to pin down the massive bags of ice underneath.

"This one," he said, patting to the Quasimodo hump on his left shoulder, "is from the tarp."

"This one," he continued, nodding toward the bulge on his right hip, "is from the car wreck."

"This is the car wreck, too," he added, pointing to the bulge behind his right shoulder.

The first reference was to his unsuccessful attempt at climbing a tarp to catch a foul ball on Friday night in the opener of a three-game series against the host Yankees. He slipped on it instead, falling as the ball fell right next to him.

The "car wreck" references were to his spectacular diving catch on the warning track in Cleveland on Thursday. But he might as well have been talking about Oakland's miserable road trip.

Behind the mastery of Mike Mussina and the magic of Mariano Rivera, the Yankees handed the A's a 2-1 loss that dropped Oakland to 1-7 on a trip that will come to a merciful end here on Sunday.

"We all knew it'd be a tough trip coming in," Swisher said, slowly shaking his head. "We just have to make the best of it from here."

A's manager Bob Geren was his usual positive self after the game, rightly noting that starter Joe Kennedy and reliever Dallas Braden pitched extremely well, and insisting that his club is playing good baseball.

"We played well enough and pitched well enough and hit well enough to win tonight," he said. "We just didn't [win]. We couldn't piece it together."

But it might be time to admit that all of the injuries have finally caught up to the A's, who have lost 13 of their past 17 games. Despite the positive news of closer Huston Street's progress and the anticipated return of setup man Justin Duchscherer within a week or so, Oakland still gets bad news on the health front almost every day.

On Friday, the bad news was that Rich Harden, whom Geren had said before the game would throw two innings in relief, did not pitch at all. Harden said he played a little catch during batting practice and just didn't fell very good, so he'll play a little catch on Saturday and go from there.

"It isn't a setback or anything," Harden insisted.

Mark Ellis did some insisting, too, only he insisted that he's not getting frustrated with the way the A's are playing. For the second time on the trip, Ellis, one of the most mild-mannered men on the team, gave an umpire an earful after what he felt was a bad strike call.

"I can't say anything about the umps," Ellis said, "but I was not frustrated about the trip."

Swisher, however, admitted to being frustrated. The A's did little with Mussina, who allowed one run on six hits over seven innings, and Rivera struck out three in 1 1/3 innings to pick up the save.

Frustrated? It's why Swisher tried to climb the tarp.

"Things haven't been going extremely well for us, so why not?" he said. "I figured, 'Maybe I can jump-start us.' ... It is frustrating. Guys are busting their tails, and we're still not getting it done. I said to someone earlier, 'I thought the harder you work, the luckier you get.' Well, that's not always true.

"I mean, look at me. Look at our record on this trip. We're working hard. Do we look lucky to you?"

Mychael Urban is a national writer for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.