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Buck Giveth AND Buck Taketh Away

It wasn’t enough to go 4/5 with a 2B and a HR; Travis Buck also had to make a fine catch to make sure his offensive exploits led to a 4-3 win and not a 5-4 loss. The 10.5 game spread in the standings may have obscured the fact that this was a vintage A’s-Angels pennant race extravaganza, one of those “I live for this!” games the two teams have played so many times over the past few years. I could dissect a million different things, from DiNardo’s mastery to Vlad’s “huh?” infield hit to Piazza’s decision to go for broke and break from second on a liner to left-center to Buck bad decision to dive and good decision to dive to...Really, what a game.

A lot has been made of the magic, for the A’s, of the number 4 in the run column. Tonight, they scored that almighty 4th run and they scored 4 exactly the way A’s teams need to hit in order to score 4 runs: a variety of ways. Tonight’s A’s went deep (Buck), turned outs into runs (Piazza), drove the ball the other way, stole three bases and bunted for a hit. The A’s have now won three games in a row in which they have had a bunt single, kind of an interesting stat for a team that went 95 games seemingly oblivious to the possibility.

I won’t go so far as to say the A’s will even be back in the race if they win tomorrow, as I agree with Ken Korach that nothing really happens until you get to .500. But even tonight had a playoff atmosphere and feel to it, and for one of the few times lately I was really leaning with every pitch and pumping my fist over important pitches, hits, and plays. It was that good a game and it was that fun to watch my team scrap, bunt, dive, run, slap, and grind its way through 9 action-packed innings in which I never knew what to expect.

Not every decision worked out—for example, Piazza’s baserunning and Buck’s first dive. But Buck’s second dive showed that sometimes you have to keep taking chances and that it pays off in the long run to go get the baseball game instead of waiting for it to come to you. The A’s went out and got this game, and for at least one night we got our pennant race. Keeping taking chances, A’s, because you have nothing to lose.