There will be a day in the future where we will be talking about our baseball team perhaps to our kids. Maybe our grandkids. Maybe to our pets or our friends, and we will bring up the best days we can remember, the days of the 2012 and 2013 Oakland Athletics and the absolute magic that is dancing all around this baseball team. For only magical baseball teams can do what the A's do every single night; win an improbable game against an improbable pitcher and somehow manage to make a dramatic comeback win seem routine. It's not enough that the A's are now 38-25 on the season, thirteen games over .500, somehow Lindy-hopping with Miss .603, tied for the best record in the American League, and finally back in first place. And in one of the best moments in a still-young season filled with great moments, we witnessed the A's first grand slam; the hit that turned a loss into a win with one swing of the bat.
The A's scored all of their runs on that swing and had nearly all of their hits in that inning, and it was enough, as Parker, Cook and Balfour took care of the White Sox on the other side of the mound. The A's defense even had two rare errors, but ones that are mere footnotes as the best defensive play of the night is all anyone will remember in the field.
But first, to set the table for the dramatic victory, our heroes needed some strife. The White Sox would score their first run in the third on a solo homerun, and they would add another run in the fourth on a sacrifice fly, as a throwing error by Derek Norris allowed a runner to reach third base with fewer than two outs. Just for good measure, the White Sox added a third run in the fifth on another sacrifice fly.
Meanwhile, Chris Sale was mowing the A's down in order. Through the first five innings, the A's managed a grand total of two singles. There was absolutely no comeback--or a win--anywhere in sight, unless you knew better. And in 2013, we always know better.
Adam Rosales singed to open the sixth, and with one out, Lowrie singled and Rosales took third on the subsequent fielding error. Yoenis Cespedes walked to load the bases, and the storm? She's a comin'. Josh Donaldson stepped in the box and on the third pitch he saw, hit an opposite field grand slam to rocket the A's from a 3-0 deficit to a 4-3 lead. It was incredible; the kind of moment that makes you believe in magical summer nights, fairy tale castles, true love, (even if that love is a baseball team) and that anything is possible.
Parker would allow a leadoff single in the eighth inning, and would end his night with 7+ innings, 5 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), 2 walks, 4 strikeouts, and his fifth win. Ryan Cook walked the next batter, and the White Sox were in business again. I'm not sure I wouldn't have bunted either, in a situation with Rios and Dunn coming up with a chance to tie the game, but luckily for us, Ramirez popped up the bunt, Rios popped up, and and Dunn flied out to end the threat.
Balfour's jam was much more interesting. With one out, Conor Gillaspie hit a homerun--one that Josh Reddick caught over the fence and brought back for the second out of the inning. To quote Hawk, "Stretch, stretch, NOOO!" So Reddick preserves Balfour's 33rd straight save (15th this year), and the A's lock down their 20th road win, the best in the AL.
Here's a fun fact: Last year at this time, the A's were nine games behind Texas. This year? The A's are behind nobody. Your first place Oakland Athletics have guaranteed themselves a split of this weekend series already, with a chance to win the series with a win tomorrow. Tommy Milone will face off against John Danks in a 1:05PM start. I will be your host.
Enjoy your hot summer night, and your magical baseball team. This is the stuff of fairy tales.