One Small Step for Holliday...One Giant Leap for the A's

The day after:

I spoke to my brother John, who was at the game last night with my 4-year old nephew Xavier, and my teenage nieces Brittany and Carrin. John seems to always be at these kinds of games. Some highlights of our conversation (his voice was hoarse):

"How long did you stay?"
"For  the whooooooole thing."

On the chances of a comeback:

"The A's were hitting the ball hard all night, so I felt like we had a chance to at least make it interesting."

The magical seventh inning:

"When Holliday came up with the bases loaded, Xavier said, 'Are we winning yet?' I told him, 'Not yet.' Then Holliday just crushed it. Brittany went crazy. 'Oh my God! I prayed! I prayed that he would hit it over the 388 sign, and he did! He did!' At that point it felt like there were 50,000 fans there."

Their seats were right behind the plate, which gave John a perfect view of the game's last play:

"I shouted to Suzuki that the runner was heading for the plate, which I think gave him a new kind of urgency, but he didn't rush the throw or anything. It was perfect.  I didn't see the replay but he looked out to me."

The bedlam that ensued heading for the exits:

"After the game it was like a Raider crowd, the way people were carrying on, with chants of Let's Go Oakland.  I won't soon forget this one." 

 

It was quite simply the greatest comeback in Oakland A's history.  Ha, if it were only that simple.

Makes you wonder how Jason Giambi is feeling right about now.

In a season in which the A's have done so little right, they seemed intent on outdoing themselves over the last two games, in two completely different ways.  Yesterday they went goose egg for ten innings, wasting a near-perfect outing by Brett Anderson, when just one little run would have sufficed.

So tonight in the very first inning, they scored two runs, which was good enough to keep them within ten runs of the Twins at 12-2 after Minnesota's third turn at bat.  Through six innings they had seven runs and 15 hits, and still trailed 13-7, seemingly well on their way to a seventh loss in which they've plated seven or more runs (that would have tied them with Cleveland and Washington for that dubious distinction).

Their starter Gio Gonzalez was the anti-Anderson.  One day after it took the Angels 21 batters to get their first baserunner against Anderson, Gonzalez was slightly less effective against the same amount of Twins, who lit him up like a pinball machine to the ungodly tune of 10 hits, 3 walks, and 11 earned runs in 2-1/3 innings.

On a night that we celebrated the 40-year anniversary of Neil Armstrong's giant leap for mankind, the Twins knocked Gonzalez out with four moon shots- one each by Jason Kubel (a 3-run blast in the first) and Michael Cuddyer (a solo shot in the third), and two by Justin Morneau (a grand slam in the second, and a 3-run laser in the third).

But the A's pecked away, while the bullpen played the role of unsung hero.

A two-run homerun by Daric Barton followed an RBI-single by Jack Cust, and cut the lead to 12-5 after three.  Matt Holliday did the same in the fourth, and suddenly it was 12-7.

Santiago Casilla gave one back in the fifth, but the Twins would score no more, stifled by an assembly line of arms: Russ Springer, Craig Bleslow, Brad Ziegler, and Michael Wuertz.

While AN waited for the nightly tease, figuring the A's would sneak to within a run or two in the ninth, the offense that was sorely lacking yesterday- and most of this season for that matter- pulled a fast one on the Twins.  And us.

Orlando Cabrera doubled home a pair of runs to make 13-9, and after a walk to Scott Hairston, up stepped Holliday, who lifted a grand slam to tie the game.  With José Mijares in to face Cust, the tie lasted one pitch, as the slugger went deep to center to give the A's an impossible lead.

The Twins weren't dead yet, as they threatened in the eighth.  But a Ziegler-induced double play killed the rally, and the A's turned to Wuertz in the ninth.  After he struck out the first two batters, Wuertz gave up a double to Cuddyer and intentionally walked Kubel, before unleashing a wild pitch that Kurt Suzuki could not locate as Cuddyer and Kubel worked their way around the bases.   By the time Suzuki found the ball, Cuddyer had broken for the plate.  Suzuki threw the ball to a waiting Wuertz who applied the game-ending tag.

Was he safe? Yes. Do I care? No.

A most fitting ending to a game this recap does no justice to.

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