The last two innings made the first 7 hardly worth talking about, so let’s zoom past the 3-3 tie that got us to the 8th and deconstruct from there.
Top of the 8th, tie game, two out bases empty and in the batter’s box stands the only guy on either team about whom you could possibly say “we can’t let him beat us”. As if to accentuate the point, on deck stands not Manny Ramirez, not Travis Hafner, not Magglio Ordoñez. No, this 3-4 punch ends with Robb Quinlan. As if that isn’t enough, Santiago Casilla’s first pitch is a hanging slider—one of those overthrown pitches you get when you deliver a pitch thinking “don’t hang it, don’t hang it”. It hangs, as if to send the A’s a courtesy reminder, “This is why you need to walk Vlad.” As Vlad himself is undefendable, the decision to pitch to Vlad in that situation was indefensible. And with Shields coming in, one would assume this is what we’d be focused on.
If he had to do it over again, Scioscia probably would have gone with Yarnell. Something about the Coliseum does strange things to arguably the best set-up man in baseball. Tonight, Shields was charged with 5 runs as the A’s got (stop the presses) three hits with RISP to go with one hit with RIP (cross your fingers and hope that Kurt Suzuki can cross his).
This morning we had a spirited discussion about speed, power, versatility, Hatteberg clones, and leprosy. Furmaniak’s dash home to tie the game was a good example of the ways speed can surface as an important weapon. While roasting Geren on a spit for pitching to Vlad, also give him props for pinch-running Furmaniak right away instead of waiting for Piazza to get into scoring position.
Nice win, canines without testicles!