It was certainly one of those magical games, where victory was snatched from the jaws of certain defeat, as in the blink of an eye, the A's record went from 2-5 to 3-4; just like that. And in the seventh game of the season, Mr. Petaluma Power himself; the pride of the 7-0-7 (my area code growing up, too), made himself a valuable member of the team by accounting for the A's only "real" runs with his homerun, and completing the A's comeback in the bottom of the 12th.
It was a hard-fought battle; one that saw two A's leave the game battered and bruised (Pennington, who fouled a ball off his foot, and Reddick, who was the first A's player to be hit by a pitch - SPOILER - he wouldn't be the last!), but thanks to the co-players of the game; Jonny Gomes and Jonathan Broxton, the A's would win the game, and the series, despite being down one run in the twelfth.
The magic formula almost worked today. Starting pitcher goes 6 innings, allowing just two runs? Check. Set-up man Ryan Cook doesn't allow a baserunner? Check. Closer pitches scoreless ninth? Check. Offense scores one more run than the opposing team? Check.
The A's were set-up to win this game 3-2 from the start, as Brandon McCarthy (bend, but don't break), shakily completed six innings, allowing six hits, two walks, and two runs. Cespedes (who was 2-4 on the day, with a walk and a HBP) stole the A's first run; he doubled, stole third, and took home on the resulting errant throw. The Royals would tie the game, and then take the lead on a Butler homerun, But Cespedes (OBP machine!) walked to bring up Gomes, who gave the A's the lead.
The only thing that didn't work was Fuentes. Because the A's bullpen has a limited amount of good pitchers, they really needed an extra inning from McCarthy or an extra inning from Cook to close the gap. Unfortunately, Fuentes was used in the filler inning. Although he was used in the correct situation; he just wasn't very good at not giving up the tying homerun.
Luckily, Cook and Balfour were awesome; the former throwing one and a third, and the latter, two full innings. Norberto gave the A's a chance in the eleventh, and nearly completed the twelfth, but his replacement, Carignan, gave up the go-ahead hit for the Royals. And c'mon; the pen did hold the Royals scoreless for many innings; by the twelfth inning, your offense should probably go ahead and score a run already. The A's collected four measly hits after they scored in the fourth.
But that's not important. What is important is the Royals feeling sorry for us, and clearly throwing the game. After Daric Barton was called out on strikes to open the twelfth, and yes, he went 2-5 on the day, but I'm still going to say it. I get you have the bestest eye in the world, and you do, but when you get a full-count against Jonathan Broxton, do not strike out looking. Seriously, we are not good enough to hit you in; swing the bat on a close pitch!
Alcides Escobar should also be included in the Royals' fruit basket; he made the error that allowed Seth Smith to reach base with one out in the twelfth. Broxton responded by walking Weeks and Sogard to load the bases. I was getting ready to lecture Coco Crisp, but with an 0-2 count, he did get the ball to the right side to score the run and tie the game. With first base open, I thought Cespedes would be walked, but Broxton decided it was more efficient to just flat-out hit him with the ball to re-load the bases. It was over quickly; Broxton hit Gomes as well, for a HBP walk-off; all without recording a single hit! A's baseball rules!
Enjoy it. We face Felix (seriously, AGAIN!?) Friday night at 7:05 in Seattle. I'll be here. Pennington and Reddick are both day-to-day, so we'll see if they will be there too.