Very few things will cause me to literally leap off my couch, onto my feet screaming when I’m alone, but this happened today twice in ten minutes. Oh my freakin’ goodness, this game was insane.
It was one of these games that the A’s could have so easily given up on after the first three innings, and let the Indians blow them out, but they scrapped, and battled, and fought, and clawed their way back to within striking distance, and after one of the most magical ninth innings I can remember seeing (probably only topped today by the Boston Red Sox six-run explosion down five), the A’s finally broke through and won the game with bombs that were enough to make Mommy Milton Bradley and Mommy Jack Cust as proud as could be of their kids.
I wouldn’t say Gaudin didn’t exactly have his good stuff today; he threw some filthy pitches when needed, but his control just wasn’t where it usually is. But as the old adage goes; you can tell a good pitcher by how successful he is even when his pitches aren’t working, and Gaudin definitely battled. Much speculation was made during the game about the change in his motion, and of course, you have to wonder whether this affected his control.
Gaudin was in big trouble for his first three innings today. He managed to conjure up a huge DP with a runner on third and one out in the first, and then only allowed one run after the bases loaded no one out jam in the second, helped immensely by a wicked strike-out of Barfield, a fielder’s choice (nearly a DP) off Rouse, and a huge strike-out of A’s-killer Casey Blake with the bases loaded again. The A’s were only down by one run, and with a lesser pitching performance, it could have been much, much worse.
In what is a reversal of the norm, after it took the Indians the better part of twenty minutes and five batters to eke out their first run, the A’s tied the game on their first hit, an absolute BOMB from Bobby Crosby that got over the wall in a hurry. It’s good to see Crosby crushing pitches that he should crush.
By the top of the third, with runners at first and third (again) and no one out, it seemed as if everyone was just holding their breath, waiting for the big hit from the Indians. And it finally came. After a long battle, Nixon delivered the double to put the Indians up again, but more importantly, it stationed runners at second and third. Despite getting the first out without a run scoring, the dam finally burst, seeing both of those runs score, and a rare two-errors-on-one-play from Mark Ellis, ugly as it comes, put Cleveland up 5-1.
But bucking their usual trend, the A’s refused to give Cleveland the unanswered inning, and after a leadoff walk to Ellis, and an infield single by Kendall, Stewart smoked a base hit for the RBI, and the A’s loaded the bases with a shattered-bat single by Swisher.
Bases loaded, no outs, down by three should have seen the A’s able to inch closer, but <whispers> don’t tell the other teams, but Chavy cannot hit lefties. He didn’t even come close to touching the ball, and should be batting about eleventh with a lefty on the mound. (More on this later.) But on the bright side, Milton picked him up by making a bid for a bases-clearing double, but Sizemore was able to cut it to a sacrifice fly, and the A’s settled for getting two of the runs back in the third.
Gaudin came back out for the fourth, and neatly dispatched of the three batters he faced, with a little help from Mark Ellis, and to our delight, Cust nearly went yard in the bottom of the inning, but settled for a lead-off double, and advanced on Ellis’ fly ball. He hits, he runs, is there anything Cust can’t do?! (More on this later.) Kendall followed with an RBI ground-out, and just like that, the A’s were back within one.
Gaudin was pulled with two outs in the fifth, after 110 pitches, hoping that the A’s offense could turn the "L" into a "ND" (More on this later.), but after the A’s were shut-down for the first time in the fifth, the Indians came right back in the sixth to widen their lead, helped by a controversial call at the plate. (Yes, he was out.) Chavez brought the A’s one run closer with a seventh inning homerun against a righty, and in the eighth, after Ellis reached with two outs, Geren pinch-hit for Kendall again (I KNOW!) with Travis Buck, but he grounded out to leave the score 7-5.
After another high-stress inning in the top of the ninth, the A’s managed to squeak out with another zero on the board, and they came up to bat trailing by two in the bottom of the ninth. Stewart and Swisher were quickly dispatched of by Borowski, but Chavez, in one of his most wonderful at-bats in recent memory, battled back from an 0-2 deficit to bounce the single that brought Milton Bradley to the plate as the tying run. "I’m doing this for my mom" was all over his swing, as he simply CRUSHED the ball out for the game-tying homerun.
Could it GET any better? Yes, it could! Dan Johnson followed with a single to keep his hitting streak alive, and Crosby followed that with single of his own, bringing up Jack Cust, who seems to have a homerun every day. Of course, it just seems like it, right?
Englishmajor said it best: "Paging Jack Cust. Mr. Cust, your table is ready, sir."
The rest is history. Cust, OF COURSE, hits a three-run homerun, the A’s beat yet another good closer, the A’s win their third series in a row, and Oakland is in PANDEMONIUM. We can only hope that the unbelievable amazing energy still emanating from the stadium takes itself over the parking lot to the Warriors’ game, which starts in an hour, and if you like adorable stories, C.C. Sabathia has stayed behind in Oakland to watch the game tonight; he’s a HUGE Warriors fan. I don’t know about the XL ‘We Believe’ shirt fitting, though. I think perhaps Barkley should have offered his up.
Hmmm...closing thought. JACK CUST - HE COULD RUN FOR MAYOR OF OAKLAND!
What a game; what a win. I would say that these don’t come along very often, but when the A’s make a comeback, they do it in style. Wow, wow, wow, wow.
The A’s play tomorrow night at 7:05 against the Royals, and next Saturday, Swisher is cutting his hair for the first time since July.