You want exciting, down-to-the-wire, gritty, comeback, playoff baseball, complete with unlikely heroes? Well, you must have loved tonight's game. Down early to the Indians as Tom Milone gave up a grand slam in the fourth, the A's stormed back to tie the game and later take the lead, ending with a perfect save for an incredible win to open The Streak celebration weekend. And if that wasn't sweet enough, the Rangers lost, putting the A's 5 back of the Division; the Angels got hammered in a Jered Weaver start, and Baltimore lost. The A's are still fighting in mid-August; only a half game out of the Wild Cards.
It was a slow start for both offenses; neither team scored for the first three innings. The fourth inning must have seemed like a nightmare to Milone; after walking the leadoff batter, the next hitter flew out to left field--only Cespedes never saw the ball. Pennington frantically tried to get there, but he was too late, and the ball dropped well in front of both fielders. The scorekeeper must be a true A's fan; s/he tagged Cespedes with an error, on a ball that never got within twenty feet of his glove. This sufficiently rattled Milone; he gave up a single to the next batter, and with the count full and the bases loaded, he gave up a grand slam to put the Indians on top 4-0.
Click. Click. Click. Click. With the A's ineffective offense this week, and a Norris "single" earlier in the game that missed a homerun by 5 inches, things seemed bleak for our heroes. The game was surely over, right? But Milone seemed to snap out of it; he struck out the next batter, got the second out, and struck out another batter to mercifully end the inning. And the A's came right back.
Chris Carter singled to open the A's half of the fourth inning, and Moss walked to put two on. After Jonny Gomes struck out, Josh Donaldson, who would go 4-4 on the night with a great play at third, doubled in Carter for the A's first run. Derek Norris grounded out for the second run, and Cliff "Clutchy" Pennington, who couldn't hit a fastball down the middle tonight if he was swinging with a tennis racquet, was thrown a lazy, hanging curveball, which he pounced on for an RBI single. And all of a sudden, the A's were only down one run.
Milone shut down the Indians in the fifth, in what would be his last inning, and Pat Neshek and Jordan Norberto held the Indians scoreless for the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. The A's, not wanting to make anyone wait for pie, got the job done in the eighth tonight.
Chris Carter battled for a walk to open the inning and Moss singled to put two on. Pinch-hitter Josh Reddick singled to load the bases, and Rosales pinch-ran for Carter. On third base. But no matter. Swinging Josh Donaldson came up and stroked an RBI single to give the A's the lead. After Derek Norris struck out, Cliff Pennington had a very good, battling at-bat to drive in the A's sixth run with a sac fly.
Grant Balfour, perfect since becoming the closer, was perfect again tonight, setting down the Indians 1, 2, 3, and securing the much-needed A's win. All in all, it was a great win and a really good comeback, and hopefully this will jump-start the homestand.
We do it again tomorrow night. 6:05 start; I'll see many of you there!