If you like exciting baseball that included some great bullpen pitching and some (gasp!) actual offense, you would have liked tonight's baseball game. The A's banged out fourteen hits in a seesaw battle that set up Kurt Suzuki to be the hero with the A's second walkoff win in as many games.
Another day, another no-decision for our starting pitching staff, but Justin Duchscherer would probably tell you that he was pleased with his ND tonight. Duchscherer gave up all five of the Mariners runs in his 5.2 innings, but he was bailed out by his stellar bullpen, highlighted by none other than Tyson Ross, making his major league debut.
Duchscherer got in trouble early, walking Kotchman with two outs to set up the 2-run homerun by Milton Bradley that put Seattle on the board before the A's even got an at-bat. But as would be the trend all night, the A's never gave up. They got one run back in the first as Davis singled, stole second, advanced to third on an error, and scored on Ryan Sweeney's sacrifice fly. They would tie the game at two in the third on Rajai Davis's homerun (yes, really) and would take the lead in the fourth behind a Barton single and a Buck double. Ichiro kicked the ball around in the corner, allowing Barton to score.
Duchscherer settled down after his rough first, retiring 9 in a row at one point, but got in trouble again in the fifth. Singles, wild pitches (Kurt Suzuki looked somewhat shaky catching Duke tonight), and sac flies brought in two more runs for the Mariners, but the A's once again came right back in the bottom of the fifth, loading the bases for Daric Barton. He hit the ball well, but Milton Bradley made a nice running catch as the ball was slicing away from him; the A's took the sac fly instead of the bases-clearing double.
In a somewhat controversial move, Geren sent a clearly-tiring Duke back out in the sixth. He walked Bradley to lead off the inning, but made a great play on Griffey Jr.. Duke caught the ball, made a very controlled throw to second (how many times do we see a pitcher ruin that throw?), and turned the easy double play. A single and a wild pitch put the go-ahead run on second for the Mariners, and Duke allowed one more single to give the M's the 5-4 lead.
Enter Tyson Ross.
Despite the mean Mariners stealing second base on the very first pitch Ross threw, he ended up recording his first strikeout of his first batter. And WOW does that kid use his upper body/arms when he pitches. I have no idea how he stays together, but I liked the result; 2.1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K. That's an awesome debut, and it kept the A's in the game.
The cameraman wanted us to believe that Travis Buck tied the game in the sixth, but sadly, it was just a high fly ball. The A's went quietly in the sixth, but an Ellis single and a Suzuki double tied the game in the seventh. "Everyday" Ziggy came in to face two batters in the ninth; two outs, and after Blevins walked Ichiro, he retired Figgins to set the stage for the ninth inning heroics.
Ryan Sweeney opened the inning with a leadoff single, and our cleanup hitter Kouzmanoff decided that now would be a fantastic time to bunt. Not with two on in the season opener, but right now. He dropped down a pretty good bunt; it took a perfect throw to get Sweeney at second, but it was still an out at second. Kurt Suzuki came up again and after a long battle at the plate, hit what looked like it might be a walkoff homerun....and then looked like fly ball to Milton Bradley. Bradley hit a two-run homerun and made a nice catch in tonight's game, but he absolutely butchered the fly ball, allowing Koooooooooouz to cross the plate for the win. Heady stuff.
The Mariners were uncharacteristically sloppy on defense tonight, and the A's were anything but. "Money" Pennington made a fairly fantastic flip play to stop the ball up the middle and get the out at second, and we finally saw the Kouzmanoff we were promised, as Tyson Ross's last batter smoked a ball down the third base line. Kouz made a diving catch on the ball that looked like it was past him, and Barton made the nice scoop at first on a pretty great throw.
It was worth noting that the A's are not afraid to use Daric Barton to catch; Eric Chavez pinch-hit for Jake Fox in the eighth; leaving the A's catcher-less if anything had happened to Suzuki.
If the first three games are any indication, they A's are going to fight, and we're all going to sweat it out with them. Love baseball!
We do it again tomorrow afternoon. See y'all here!
Athletics lead the series 2-1
WP: Brandon League (1 - 0)
SV: David Aardsma
LP: Brad Ziegler (0 - 1)
|3 - 5 loss|
WP: Edwar Ramirez (1 - 0)
LP: Kanekoa Texeira (0 - 1)
|2 - 1 win|
WP: Jerry Blevins (1 - 0)
LP: Mark Lowe (0 - 1)
|6 - 5 win|