Today's recap in three acts.
Your box score will show that the Oakland Athletics took ten innings to defeat the Boston Red Sox by the score of 2-1. In truth, the A's won 1-0. The discrepency? Home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott and his band of blind buddies failed to credit Luke Gregerson and Stephen Vogt with a caught foul-tip strike three in the eighth inning against Mike Napoli, and the tying run scored one pitch later. Here's how the game went down.
Act 1: Ludicrous pace
First, Dennis Eckersley threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Sean Doolittle.
Jesse Chavez and Rubby De La Rosa took the hill for the Athletics and Red Sox respecitvely and moved at a blazing pace.
In the first four innings, Chavez had some problems getting ahead in counts. While he would often throw a first-pitch strike, he only took two batters to 0-2 or 1-2 as he walked four in the first four innings. He did not concede a hit, however, until Brock Holt singled to lead off the top of the sixth inning.
Rubby De La Rosa, on the other hand, took just 24 pitches to dismiss the first six Athletics he faced. Stephen Vogt rewarded the A's faithful, however, with a line-drive triple to lead off the top of the third that came a foot short of clearing the wall in center. Jackie Bradley Jr. misplayed it and had to chase the ball back into the field, allowing Vogt to get in standing up. One-pitch later, Alberto Callaspo nearly had a base hit of his own when he sent a sinking liner toward the right field gap. Unfortunately, a rather pesky Brock Holt made a rather spectacular diving catch, good for two exclamation marks on my scorecard.
An RBI sacrifice fly will do there, as De La Rosa otherwise was dealing. No runner got past first base for the rest of his start, 100 pitches through seven innings. He allowed just four hits and walked one while striking out six.
In the fifth, Jesse Chavez settled down, getting all three Red Sox in the fifth inning to 0-2 or 1-2 counts, dismissing them all. In the sixth, Chavez ran into some trouble. Pesky Brock Holt and Dustin Pedroia hit a single apiece, with David Ortiz coming up. On a 2-1 count, Ortiz grounded into a 3-6-1 double play, moving Holt to third with Napoli coming up. On his 91st pitch, Chavez pitched an 89 MPH cutter on the inside corner at the knees, coming off the mound pounding his glove to escape the jam and hold onto his 1-0 lead. Chavez pitched a nine-pitch seventh for his longest appearance since May 12, and his third consecutive quality start.
Act 2: Three blind mice and a wool-eared Wolcott
The A's led 1-0 as Bob Melvin turned to Luke Gregerson to pitch the eighth inning. After getting Jackie Bradley Jr. to groundout to Callaspo at first, the pesky Brock Holt hit a 1-2 single. Next, Dustin Pedroia grounded slowly to shortstop Jed Lowrie who tossed to Eric Sogard with Holt coming toward the bag. Sogard jump-threw to avoid the takeout slide but threw high to an unfortunately height-challenged Alberto Callaspo. Callaspo did well to jump and prevent the ball from heading toward the visiting dugout, holding Pedroia at first
David Ortiz was next, and Gregerson was not finding the strike zone as called by Quinn Wolcott today. Ortiz had the 3-0 green light, but skied what might have been a pop-out to shallow center if the outfield was at normal depth. With the outfield back against Ortiz, however, Coco Crisp broke a little too late and did not have a play. With two out, Pedroia moved from first to third.
Gregerson initially got ahead in the count 1-2 with the tying run 90-feet away. On 2-and-2, Gregerson tossed a devastating slider low-and-away that Napoli could only nick, Vogt caught the ball in his glove, Gregerson pumped his hand into his glove, and Vogt triumphantly held the ball up in his glove.
And then home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott began to wave his hands because
Crew chief Gerry Davis confirms that, tells pool reporter home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott heard glove strike ground, thought it was ball.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) June 21, 2014
Not all was lost, surely one of the eagle-eyed umpires around the bases in this Major League Baseball game saw Vogt clearly catch the foul-tip on the fly. No.
Ump Gerry Davis (pool quote) on blown 3rd strike "It's a difficult call for us. And in order to change it we have to positive." #Athletics— John Hickey (@JHickey3) June 22, 2014
2-2 count again, Gregerson tried the same slider, but this one did hit the dirt and skipped away from Stephen Vogt. Dustin Pedroia began running right away and scored easily, and we stood tied at one. One pitch later, Napoli flew out to Craig Gentry. Gregerson began to bark at Wolcott, and Bob Melvin was right there to tell Wolcott and anyone who would listen exactly what he thought of their umpiring, as loudly as possible, because they were wrong, and they should feel about their wrongness, because it was wrong, very wrong. Melvin was booted from the game.
Act 3: The former O.co Coliseum will now be known as the O.Coco Coliseum
In the bottom of the tenth, Red Sox manager John Farrell found himself in need of a right-handed reliever on the road in a tie game. Burke Badenhop was used heavily yesterday, and I guess Farrell wanted to save Uehara for either a save situation or a jam, so he turned to he of the almost six ERA Edward Mujica. It was not at all effective.
Mujica had no sense of the strike zone and committed the cardinal sin of walking the winning run, Alberto Callaspo, to lead-off. Nick Punto, trying to lay down a bunt, instead had to duck-and-dodge a series of balls out of the zone until he could drop one up the first base line on a 3-1 count. Farrell had enough, and Uehara now entered the game with Callaspo in scoring position to pitch to Coco Crisp. Crisp had been 0-for-4 to that point until, well ...
Both of the A's base runners that got in scoring position scored today, and the A's defeated the Red Sox twice today, 1-0 in regulation, and 2-1 in 11.
The A's have won five in a row to go to 47-28 (.627). They lead the AL West by 6½ games over the Angels, who have yet to play tonight. The Toronto Blue Jays' loss to the Cincinnati Reds today gives the A's a 5½ game advantage for best record in the American League, and maintains their 1½ game advantage over the Brewers for best record in baseball.
Tomorrow the A's go for the four-game sweep and try to clinch a tie for the Oakland record for consecutive winning months at 13, set by the Sept. 1970-Sept. 1972 Athletics. Left-hander Jon Lester (8-7, 3.20 ERA, 105 Ks) pitches for Boston against left-hander Tommy Milone (5-3, 3.56, 49 Ks) for Oakland. First pitch is at 1:05 pm.