Okay, now is the part where we get to vote for the best game of 2006 (regular season). Exciting plays, great defense, walk-off hits, let's take a look. I nominate these ten games for consideration, in date order. Were you at any of these games? What do you remember? Any others you would have selected?
Some notes: I'm deliberately leaving off the game in Seattle where the A's clinched. Great result, obviously, but as games go, I don't think it was in the top ten of best 2006 games. In addition, I did not include any A's losses, although I recognize a baseball game can still be 'good', even though our A's did not win. That being said, these are all A's wins, and what I think are the best ten games of the 2006 season.
The third game of the season, and the rubber-game of the first Yankees' series, the A's came back from a four-run deficit to tie the game, and later took a commanding lead in the eighth, as newcomers Milton Bradley and Frank Thomas made their early-season presence known. Bradley's three RBIs and a triple set the tone of the big inning, while Thomas put an emphatic exclamation mark on the series with a bases-clearing double that missed being a grand-slam by about six inches.
On Milton Bradley's birthday, he celebrated in style as he teamed up with Chavvy and Thomas to complete an amazing back-to-back-to-back homerun extravaganza for the win. After leading 2-1 in a rare start by Rich Harden, the A's surrendered three in the top of the sixth, but answered back in the bottom of the same inning, hanging on for the 5-4 win.
An unlikely opponent and an unlikely score for a top ten game, but this game has been widely considered to be the one that turned the 2006 Oakland season around. Facing a sweep at the hands of the lowly Royals, and finishing up the absolutely miserable month of May, Joe Blanton threw a complete game shutout, backed by ample offensive support, including homeruns by Crosby and Thomas, and a big triple by Chavez. Hmmm...and something else happened that day. Oh...yes. Jason Kendall hit his first and only homerun of the season.
One of the few bright moments in Bobby Crosby's 2006 season; he had a huge hit in the late innings, and after the initial A's relievers allowed the Dodgers to tie the game in the top of the ninth inning to take the game into extra innings, the second set of relievers managed to throw eight shutout innings, until the bottom of the 17th, where Crosby drew a game-winning walk to give the A's the dramatic win.
Nick Swisher reverses what looks like a sure Colorado sweep and brilliant wasted performance by Zito with an unexpected homerun in the ninth to tie the game at 2. He later scored on Bobby Kielty's single in the 11th to give Oakland the win.
The A's and Angels were locked in a tie game in the 9th in the opening game of an important mid-summer four-game series when Frank Thomas stepped up to the plate and blasted a two-run homerun to give the A's the walk-off win.
After falling behind early 5-0 against the best team in the league, the A's managed to find their bats and pick up Joe Blanton, who stayed in the game long enough to get the win. Kotsay, Bradley, and Scutaro homered in the cause, as the win gave the A's some long-overdue credit as a real contender.
One of the most remembered games of AN, since 100+ people from this site were watching the game together. The top of the ninth was as ugly as it gets, as Huston Street coughed up an A's lead, and put them in a two-run hole. However, no one will ever forget the first walk-off homerun of Milton Bradley's career, after a two-out single by Jason Kendall and a surreal, almost magical, hard-won walk by Mark Kotsay set the table for one of the most amazing regular season hits you'll ever see.
After being down 8-0 after two, the A's stormed back, scoring seven runs in their own second, and eventually completed the comeback, giving Danny Haren the dubious honor of being one of a select few starting pitchers to give up nine earned runs and still get the 'W'. Add to that a delectable fight between the opposing pitcher and his manager, and we had ourselves a ballgame.
With seven games looming against the Angels in the last ten days of the season, the A's started out the first game right, turning homeruns by Swisher, Chavez, and Bradley into an extra-inning affair, but it wasn't until Magical Marco gave us a preview of things to come by knocking in the winning run in the bottom of the twelfth that the A's could celebrate the win.