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Late-Inning Splurges: Comeback Kids or Much Ado About Nothing?

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In life there are dog people and cat people, mustard people and ketchup people, stats people and story people.  I'm a story guy.  I'm also a story, guy.  And every time I go dipping into the numbers side of the pool, I end up like Natalie Wood.  (Figure that one is safe since there are only about seven people here who've ever heard of the late actress).

But, see I am nothing if not stubborn, and Mom's words call out to me once more: "When you decide you want something, nothing can stop you."  That has actually turned out to be more of a curse than a blessing, but whatev.

There is a point to my rambling, I assure you, and that is I'm going to give this stat thingy another try.  But to show that I have learned something, I am going to leave the analysis part up to you smarty-pant types.  Not because I am a lazy journalist- I actually invested a decent amount of time in crunching the numbers- but because while I may be a glutton for punishment, I am hardly a fool.  Well, not twice a fool anyway.

So without further ado...

Seems to me there have been more than a few comments of late regarding the A's penchant for waiting until the last third of a game to wake up and smell home plate.  So Don did some digging and this is what digging Don discovered, you dig?

The A's are actually equal-opportunity scorers.  Their 361 runs this season are broken down like this:

118 runs in the first three innings, 114 runs in the middle frames, 119 in innings 7-9, and 10 more when asked to work overtime.

It is Oakland's opponents are who are little more selective on when they score: 153 runs in innings 1-3, 139 (4-6), 96 (7-9), and 13 in extra innings.

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

Opp

47

52

54

38

50

51

36

40

20

1

4

2

3

2

1

401

A's

46

44

28

56

30

28

42

41

36

0

6

1

3

0

0

361

So looking at it another way: the A's find themselves fighting from behind a lot.  In innings 1-6 they've been outscored 292-232, while from frames 7-9 they've sent more runners scurrying across home plate than their opponents by a fairly wide margin, 119-96.

So just how many of those late-inning runs have actually meant something?  How many were tacked on to a lead, and maybe could have been used for another day (well, of course they couldn't really do that), how many went for naught, and how many were instrumental to victory?

Glad you asked.

Of the 129 runs scored after the sixth, including 10 in extra innings:

  • 5 were good enough to pull the A's into a tie, but never the lead.
  • 37 gave them the lead (to clarify, if the A's were down 5-0 after six, and scored 7, 6 of those runs would go in this category, because that is what was needed to go in front; the other run would be insurance). The A's have held on to win 13 of 16 games that they forged ahead late.
  • 47 were insurance runs, though it should be noted that four of the extra scores were still not good enough for the win, as the A's lost 2 two-run leads, and 1 3-run lead late.
  • And finally 40 runs are of the too-little, too-late variety, including two losses where the A's scored 5 or more after the sixth, and still managed to lose.

Other noteworthy items:

  • There was an odd 13-game stretch from June 21 to July 8 (not consecutive days, but games of this nature) where the A's scored 25 runs from the seventh on, and none of them did anything but water down the boxscore: 6 runs added to a lead, and 19 others were merely to pretty up long-decided defeats.
  • During a 4-game losing streak in late June, the A's scored 15 runs.  Only three came before the sixth inning, with the most annoying loss coming against Colorado where the A's struck for 1 in the 7th, 2 in the 8th, and 4 in the 9th, only to fall short, 11-9.
  • In fact, of the six games that the A's managed five or more scores in the latter third of the game, only once was it absolutely "necessary" (meaning the other team led by four runs after six), and that came during the second game of the season against the Angels. Two of those late outbursts occurred in back-to-back days against the Rays before the Break, with the A's twice scoring 7 runs from the 7th on.

What does this all mean?

Hey, I'm just a storyteller. 

In a few short hours, there will be a game thread.  A's-Angels.  Braden-Santana.  If we achieve nothing else in this maddening season, let's knock the Angels from their lofty perch.