For 6 innings, it looked like same-old same-old. Lefty shuts A's down, a gritty effort by Dallas Braden wasted, A's leave 'em loaded a couple times, team can't string together a few wins.
Then came the bottom of the 7th when Jason Giambi, looking every bit as old as our forefathers, helped four score with a first pitch, two-run single that capped a comeback from down 3-0 to an A's 4-3 win.
The top of the 1st was odd, as with one out Dallas Braden tried to dive after a Yuniesky Betancourt chopper instead of just going over to cover first. Braden's hell-paving good intentions turned an out into an infield hit, which was followed by a Beltre single, a Mike Sweeney RBI double, and what should have been a two-run single by Russell Branyan. Trouble was, Sweeney's back locked up as he rounded 3rd, tripped over the bag, and hobbled back to 3rd where he perished (figuratively) on a DP ground ball that allowed Braden to escape the inning down only 2-0. Sweeney left the game soon after, forever a true Athletic.
Braden did not have his best location tonight, hanging a few changeups and playing pepper with the left field wall a bit too often for my weak heart, but he still turned in 7 solid innings with just 3 runs on his ledger. The third run came in the 7th on a leadoff double by Rob Johnson, who was sacrificed to third with one out. Ichiro was up, Betancourt on deck. What to do, what to do? Pitch to the guy who gets 200 hits a year, and make him an even better hitter by drawing the infield in, or play DP depth and pitch to Betancourt who should be batting 9th on a National League team? Bob Geren, who should be replaced as manager by a coin (better odds) chose to pitch to Ichiro, and Ichiro promptly singled to left.
Meanwhile, the A's were shutout for 6 innings by Jarrod Washburn, thanks in large part to Giambi's strikeout with the bases loaded and one out when the A's had Washburn on the ropes in the 1st inning. However, the M's had the cure: Miguel Batista! Batista recorded only one out, while walking a couple, serving up an RBI single to Orlando Cabrera and loading the bases for Jack Cust before turning the mess over to Mark Lowe. Cust flied to shallow CF, but Holliday walked on 4 pitches to force in a run and that's when Giambi picked on the first pitch, scorching a 2-run single to center, 4-3 A's.
As Andrew Bailey warmed up to try to save it in the 9th, I tried an experiment. I poured myself a glass of Bailey's Irish Cream and downed it between innings. I figured if it worked, I would be forced - by the laws of baseball superstition - to drink a glass of Bailey's every time Andrew came in to try to save a game. I am pleased to report I will be drinking a lot more in the future. Now if Billy Beane can just find a LOOGY named Jack Daniels, this season might turn out all right after all.