...life tosses you a special gift of a baseball game.
Despite winning the first two games of the four-game series, the A’s looked in danger of earning only a split; enduring two devastating losses before a series against the Angels that could decide their season.
It certainly didn't start out like a winnable game, after the A's put R.A. Dickey on the ropes in the first inning and failed to score. Indeed, the A’s offense wouldn't show up until literally the last moment possible to extend the game.
But the real story is that it DID show up, in the unlikely form of three solo homeruns, leading the A’s to an extra-innings win, behind the one sharp bullpen arm; Huston Street.
Greg Smith and R.A. Dickey started the game locked up in a scoreless pitchers' duel that continued on into the sixth for Smith; the eighth for Dickey. It looked like the win was all but sewn up for Dickey when the Mariners scored a run in the eighth and one in the ninth to put up a huge 2-0 lead over the A’s.
After Ryan Sweeney, one of the few bright spots in the A’s lineup, left the game early after a head-first slide (diagnosis: dislocated pinky; you make the call on injury time), the A’s offense absolutely rolled over and refused to mount a threat against the knuckleballer Dickey, who has been sharp in his last few outings, including today. The A’s pitching staff managed to keep the Mariners off the board through seven, thanks to a little Houdini work by our Brad Ziegler, who threw the seventh and escaped without a run scored (keeping the streak intact), but the A’s couldn’t match zeros forever.
The A’s pitching struggled in the eighth (read: Santiago Casilla is no longer an effective set-up man), as Casilla allowed a leadoff double, which scored on an infield hit to give the Mariners the 1-0 lead. Blevins came in to load the bases, but induced a pop-up for the second out, and struck out Reed to end the inning after getting behind 3-0.
The A’s managed a leadoff walk again Dickey in the eighth to send him out of the game, but failed to move the runner from first. Until the ninth, the A’s had managed four hits; three from the Sweeney/Davis spot in the lineup, a hit from Emil Brown, and a couple of walks for Jack Cust.
Embree had his own trouble in the ninth, as he allowed a leadoff double to Bloomquist, and let him steal third. He scored on a subsequent double, and the Mariners held the seemingly insurmountable 2-0 lead going to the bottom of the ninth.
And just when you thought that the game was surely over, and ANers everywhere were starting to slink off to lick their wounds, Cust led off the ninth with a homerun, which did nothing by itself but highlight the solo runs given up by Embree and Casilla. And it looked like the A’s would lose 2-1, just to make it a little more heartbreaking.
But then the impossible happened: With two outs, Suzuki was called off the bench to pinch-hit and improbably, unlikely, and ridiculously hit a homerun to tie the game.
The game went into extra innings, where Huston Street had his chance to shine, as he shut down the Mariners in the 10th and 11th frames. And in the bottom of the eleventh inning, just to cap off the amazing day, much-maligned Emil Brown hit the final homerun of the day, sending the A’s to an impossible walk-off win, which earned them the right to start the series tomorrow at worst five games back. Of course, if Texas would like to help out again tonight, I don’t think they’ll get many complaints here.
Yes, the offense is still AAA level. Yes, Ryan Sweeney is a big question mark. But for one glorious day; one amazing baseball game, the A’s reminded us why we care, and why we watch, and rewarded us for our fandom today.
A’s take on the Angels this weekend; see everyone up in Oakland!!!!