Imagine that you spent time training for a marathon. You spent months, or even years, building up your legs, your lungs, your mind, all with one goal in sight. You were ready. Everything felt good. The big day came, and all systems were go. You ran hard for 25 miles, followed your game plan, and you could see the finish line up ahead. And then, with a quarter mile to go, someone threw a banana peel on the ground and you slipped, fell, and broke your back. Marathon over, goal not reached, and now you you'll never run again. That's how I feel right now after watching the A's blow chance after chance, en route to dropping a 14-inning game to the New York Yankees. The game lasted nearly 6 hours, and the A's should have won.
No excuses. The roster is full of rookies, key players are dropping like flies with injuries, the game was on the road, the Yankees are as stacked as usual with their unfair payroll...none of that matters. The A's had this game wrapped up, and they blew it. It was piss poor, and I don't want to talk about it.
Alas, I have to recap the game, so here we go. You can continue after the jump, but I wouldn't if I was you. There is nothing beyond this sentence except for pain and suffering.
The pitching match-up for today's game was Travis Blackley against Ivan Nova, in a day game at Yankee Stadium. Right there, you knew that this would be a high-scoring affair. Things started off well for the A's: The first three batters of the game (Stephen Drew, Seth Smith, and Yoenis Cespedes) hit consecutive doubles, and the A's led 2-0 before Nova recorded an out.
In the bottom of the 1st, Ichiro Suzuki lined a homer to right to cut the lead to 2-1. Alex Rodriguez reached base after that, and what followed was one of the most bullshit things I've ever seen in a baseball game. Blackley picked A-Rod off of 1st, but was called for a balk...by 2nd base umpire Larry Vanover. Now, any umpire is allowed to call a balk, but that doesn't mean that every umpire should call a balk. Vanover ruled that Blackley's leg went toward the plate, but he had no angle at all to make such a judgment. It would be like appealing to 2nd on a check swing. How in the world would he be able to tell? That wasn't the bad part, though. Calls get blown. It happens. The bad part was that Vanover waited until the play was resolved to make the call. Blackley threw, Vanover looked over to 1st, saw the call, and then called the balk. Huh? If you think a pitcher has balked, nothing else should matter; make the call immediately. Balks aren't contingent on the result of the play. Vanover blew this one, and he did so in the most inappropriate way. The Yankees got a straight-up superstar call, like Kobe or Wade in the NBA when they miss a layup and the ref assumes that there's no way they could possibly miss on their own so it must have been a foul. Vanover called the balk because A-Rod was out. Of course, there is absolutely zero accountability at all for Major League umpires, so there is no way that an official will ever get disciplined in any way for poor job performance. This is one of the weakest parts of MLB. Bud Selig, you need to grow a pair, go up against the Umpires Union, and create a system of accountability whereby umps can be reprimanded for awful calls. This is currently unacceptable.
Rather than 2 outs and no one on, there was now a runner at 2nd with one out. In a perfect world, the blown call wouldn't have mattered. Not today. Robinson Cano singled to left-center, A-Rod scored just ahead of the throw by Cespedes, and the game was tied faster than you could say "Yuck the Fankees." Blackley completely fell apart after that; a walk and an error by Josh Donaldson loaded the bases, and Blackley walked Andruw Jones to force in a run. Repeat: He walked in a run in the first inning. Good grief.
The 2nd inning also sucked. Ichiro singled with one out, and A-Rod followed that with another hit of his own. This time, however, Ichiro got greedy and Cespedes threw him out trying to reach 3rd base. Temporary good feelings! Cano hit a routine grounder to 2nd, but Cliff Pennington, who is literally on the team only for defense, inexplicably booted it, extending the inning and allowing A-Rod to reach 3rd. Blackley followed that up with a wild pitch, allowing A-Rod to score. Good feelings gone. It was the 2nd inning, and Blackley had already issued a bases loaded walk and a run-scoring wild pitch. Baseball is the worst.
On the bright side, Stephen Drew homered to lead off the 3rd. It felt like this game was already a blowout, but the score was actually only 4-3. What's more, the A's loaded the bases with one out, knocking Nova out of the game. Clay Rapada was summoned to face Josh Reddick in a key match-up. Opportunity knocks! Reddick, however, stopped answering such knocks weeks ago. In the most predictable thing ever, Reddick tapped a pathetic grounder back to the mound, and the Yankees completed an easy 1-2-3 double play to end the rally. Lame.
Look, I hate to rip on Reddick. We wouldn't be sitting around talking about playoff chances if Reddick hadn't carried this team through the first half of the season. The dude has just dropped off the map offensively, though. He's got a .444 OPS in September, and that doesn't count the 0-for-7 that he put up today. He looks completely lost at the plate, he expands the strike zone to swing at awful pitches in nearly every at-bat, and pitchers have stopped giving him anything at all to hit because why would they? He will chase absolutely anything that you give him; as long as you stay out of the zone, he'll just pop up or roll over on something, if he makes contact at all. Baseball is a game of adjustments, and Reddick doesn't look like he's made any adjustments since July.
Oakland managed to tie the game in the 4th. Donaldson was hit by a pitch, George Kottaras singled, and then Pennington singled to drive in a run. There was nobody out, two runners on, and the top of the order coming up. What happened next? Strikeout, strikeout, groundout. Another rally wasted. Welcome to A's baseball.
While the A's went about scoring runs as inefficiently as humanly possible, reliever Jim Miller did some of his best work of the season. Blackley's day ended after the 2nd inning, meaning that both starting pitchers combined to record only 13 outs. Miller made it through 3 innings, and the only thing that he allowed was a solo homer to Raul Ibanez in the 5th inning. That homer gave the Yankees the lead, 5-4, but the A's were still in the game. Jerry Blevins came in to pitch the 6th, and made it out unscathed. This one was long from over.
In the 7th, Oakland once again got runners to the corners with one out. This time, Chris Carter came through with a sac fly to tie the game. No, it wasn't a clutch 3-run homer, but he got the job done and brought home the runner from 3rd with less than two outs. If only it was always so easy.
Blevins allowed the first two batters to reach base in the bottom of the frame, but Ryan Cook came in and extinguished the rally. Cook was really impressive today, and looked every bit like his All-Star self while recording 6 straight outs.
In the 8th, the A's once again loaded the bases, this time on a double by Donaldson, a walk by Pennington, and a pinch-hit HBP by Jonny Gomes. Could Cespedes cash in on this opportunity? Nope. Flyout to center, rally over. If you don't see a pattern forming, you might need glasses.
The game went to extra innings, and nothing much else happened until the 11th. Stephen Drew reached base to lead off, and Gomes bunted him to 2nd. Freddy Garcia, who had entered the game in the 10th, intentionally walked Brandon Moss with two outs, before unintentionally walking Chris Carter to load the bases. For Josh Reddick. Again. This time, Reddick didn't mess around; he drilled a screaming liner to the right side, for what should have been at least one RBI. Instead, some guy named Steve Pearce, who was a goddamned Astro earlier this year, made an unbelievable diving catch to rob Reddick and end the inning. If you haven't been counting, this was the 3rd time that Oakland left the bases loaded today, and the 5th time that they left a runner on 3rd. You can't even blame Reddick for this one. He smashed it. Who the cluck is Steve Pearce, anyway? HE WAS ON THE 2012 ASTROS! HE'S SUPPOSED TO SUCK!
In the meantime, the A's bullpen just kept on rolling. Grant Balfour and Evan Scribner each turned in 2 scoreless innings, and the game dragged on to the 13th.
If you have heart problems, are a small child, or are standing near a high ledge, then this is the point in the recap where you should stop reading. Just leave. Seriously, it's for your own good. I'll sum it up for you: The A's lose. There, now you don't need to read anymore, because what follows contains accounts of graphic images and could cause drastic actions in individuals who are prone to depression. I'm afraid to even type it, lest my computer become sad and wipe its own hard drive.
Stephen Drew led off the 13th inning with a single. Yay! Jonny Gomes, having tried it the hard way last time with his sac bunt, opted for the easier route to score the runner: He homered to left. 7-5 A's. Cespedes followed with a moonshot to the 2nd deck in left field. 8-5. Two batters later, Chris Carter homered as well. 3 homers, 4 runs, 9-5 lead. Game over, right?
I don't know how to say "Shit, I really cocked this one up" in Spanish, but I bet that Pedro Figueroa could tell you. With Oakland's dugout flying high, their fans breathing a sigh of relief, and the 42,000+ in Yankee Stadium completely hushed (or gone), Figgy came in to close out the bottom of the 13th. Wait, screw that. You don't get a nickname, Figueroa. Those are reserved for players who do good things. Figueroa came in to close out the bottom of the 13th. Ichiro beat out an infield single to lead off. A-Rod singled. Cano singled. Bases loaded, no outs. If this were the A's hitting, it would be no problem; just take a deep breath, and they'll pop out three times. Instead, Pat Neshek entered the game, and things went from bad to worse.
Neshek's game is to induce ground balls from right-handed hitters, and that is exactly what everyone wanted to see right here. A GIDP would get the A's two-thirds of the way to a victory. Instead, Neshek threw his first pitch to the backstop, scoring Ichiro and moving the runners up. Force gone, double play out of the question. Ugh. Eduardo Nunez followed with a sac fly, bringing the score to 9-7. Then came Raul Ibanez. You didn't even need to watch this one. Everyone already knew what was going to happen. Neshek against a powerful lefty who had already homered today, in Yankee Stadium, which was literally built to make it easier for lefties to hit homers. Neshek grooved one to Ibanez, and he launched it into the seats for a game-tying homer. Banana peel dropped. Back broken. Marathon over. Not over, because the game was only tied, but effectively over. If you can't beat the Yanks with a 4-run lead in the 13th, it's just not going to happen.
The A's went down quietly in the 14th, because they don't get to have an All-Star at every position and another 8 former All-Stars waiting on the bench. They just get Norris, and Pennington. Tyson Ross came in for the 14th, and before you knew it, there were two on and one out. A-Rod singled to center, which should have ended the game, but pinch-runner Melky Mesa, making his Major League debut, stumbled, or missed the base, or something, and held up at 3rd base. Rookie mistake. That would cost most teams, but even when the Yankees get a bad break, they follow it up with 3 fortuitous ones. The next batter, Cano, grounded one into no-man's land on the right side of the infield, but the 6'6" Ross somehow came down with it and made an off-balance throw to nail Mesa at the plate. All he had to do was retire Eduardo Nunez, and the rally would be snuffed.
Nunez hit a cue-shot to 1st base, which set a record for most English on a dinky ground ball in human history. Brandon Moss, usually so sure-handed at 1st base, couldn't read the spin, and the ball kicked off his glove. Nunez safe. Run in. 10-9. Game over. Seriously, that's how this one ended. On a fucking 92 foot dinker directly at an infielder.
Normally, I would go for a run now, to clear my head and calm myself down. However, my left Achilles has been bothering me all week and I need to rest if before I rupture that shit and spend the next year immobilized in a brace. I don't even want to run a marathon. Just a couple of miles. I can't even do that. I have to just sit here and think about this awful, horrible game. I quit drinking several years ago. Maybe it's time to start again.
If you want good news, you could consider that the A's have taken the Yankees to extra innings two days in a row, or that they are still ahead of the Angels for the 2nd Wild Card by 3 in the loss column. I'm running out of optimism, though. This is a team of rookies who are clearly gassed, as rookies tend to become at the end of September. The veterans (McCarthy, Anderson, Colon, Coco) were supposed to pick up the slack at this point and carry the team through the rest of the season. Instead, they all got hurt in the most freakish ways possible (line drive to the dome, pulled oblique, excessive PED's, goddamn pink eye), and the momentum is just gone. Even when the A's get a Team of Destiny, it only lasts for half a season before reality sets in and the Baseball Gods rule that they aren't allowed to have nice things. Why can't the Baseball Gods be as slow to act as Selig's stupid Blue Ribbon Committee? They could have won 3 World Series by the time regression set in! I'm so disappointed that I don't even know what to say anymore. 3-for-16 with RISP, and two of the hits came in the 1st inning. This isn't how things were supposed to go. I have never been so let down by a baseball game in my life. I'll be fine tomorrow, and I'll be right back here with encouraging words and a head full of happy thoughts. For now, though, I'm low. This sucks.
I told you I didn't want to talk about it.