This game was weird.
Good weird, in that the A’s managed to pull a win out of it. Bad weird, in that I have no idea what the hell got into baseball for the first few innings. Baseball is almost always weird, but baseball just decided to abandon all sensibility, rationality, and perspective for a half-hour or so. If Brian McCann was involved in this game, he would’ve punched the concept of baseball in the face.
The game was atypical, is what I’m trying to get at here.
The weirdness started after an uneventful first inning. Sonny Gray got himself into a bit of a jam after a single, double, and walk loaded the bases. And then, Anthony Gose grounded the first pitch he saw to 1B Nate Freiman, and all hell broke loose.
Okay, here goes: Freiman was positioned perfectly to tag Munenori Kawasaki as he ran from 1st to 2nd, and he got the tag down, but the umpire blew it and said that Freiman missed the tag. Since the double play was dead (or so he thought), Nate threw home to try to prevent a run from scoring. Vogt caught it, and stepped on home plate to force Edwin Encarnacion out.
Then the Blue Jays challenged the play… saying that their own runner, Kawasaki was out by Nate Freiman’s tag. You don’t typically see managers trying to challenge their own players out, but if Kawasaki was actually out, that means that Vogt couldn’t force the runner out at home plate. And the call was overturned, Kawasaki was out between 1st and 2nd, and the run scored since Vogt didn’t get the tag down.
Of course, the umpire had signaled that Freiman had missed the tag while the play was occurring so Vogt made exactly the right play with the information he had. Essentially, the A’s were getting penalized a run for an umpire screw up. That didn’t sit well with the A’s, and BoMel decided to play the game under protest.
(This doesn’t really matter anymore, but in case you’re curious: playing a game under protest means that if the MLB decides that the umpires violated a rule and it cost the A’s a game, the game is to be replayed from that point. Meaning that if the A’s had lost by one run, we could have seen the first replayed game since 1986.)
Okay, did you get all that? I didn’t either. It was honestly one of the most confusing sequences I’ve ever had the pleasure to see. Straight chaos, ten minutes of people standing around the field and yelling at each other, no one knows exactly what the right call is or how it should be enforced… it was weird. Not even fun weird, just… weird.
Interesting note: this entire sequence of events is on video at MLB.com. The title and description? "Blue Jays Challenge Call: Blue Jays challenge a play at first base in the 2nd, and after review, the call is overturned, plating a run for the Blue Jays." Thanks, MLB.com. Great description, just about covers it. Nice job.
The game got more normal from then on. R.A. Dickey conceded a walk to Moss, a double to Vogt, and a bloopy double to Freiman to plate a run. A wild pitch let Vogt score from third, because knuckleballers are fun.
There really wasn’t a lot of action from that point out, mostly because Gray was excellent. His line says 7IP 1ER, but you can probably ignore that run for obvious reasons. For all intents and purposes, it was seven shutout innings from a pitcher that was scuffling some. An excellent sign — the strikeouts were there, the ground balls were everywhere, the curveball snapped, the fastball sizzled. It was impressive. There were three walks, but two of them were of the "fouling off several thousand strikes until he’s walked on a borderline pitch" variety, which I can’t really fault him for.
Otero pitched a clean 8th inning, but only with the help of the TOOTBLANiest of TOOTBLANs. Not a great throw by Moss, but Freiman impressed with the tag.
R.A. Dickey was just as effective, until the Blue Jays manager decided to put him out there for 130 pitches, just for the lulz presumably. The A’s would score twice more on a Gentry single, Jaso double, Kawasaki throwing error, and a sac fly from Callaspo.
And Doolittle came in, and shut the door. The fastball was high and fast, and he looked just like "perfect unhittable Doolittle" we had come to know and love before the Rajai Davis ruined our collective weeks. And that was that.
And the Giants lost today, too. Today was a good day. A weird day, but a good day.