[insert ketchup joke here]
I have been lucky enough to live in three different cities with AL teams, two of which with dirt-cheap tickets (the only good thing about spending four years in Detroit). So, once again, like the adult I am, I packed my bag full of snacks and headed to the South Side to catch some rays ... I mean, A’s.
In the week leading up to the first game of the series, in typical Chicago fashion, we were told that the weather report for the day would consist of being stuck in a perpetual torrential downpour, consumed in a tsunami, riddled with thunderstorms, sucked into Narnia and also the game would probably be postponed for a few hours, or maybe canceled. Exactly nothing happened and me and the couple other fans who showed up (I think they got drunk and wandered in on accident) got to enjoy a picture-perfect baseball night and what turned out to be the most impressive start of Kendall Graveman’s career.
I started with my seats up at the top of the stadium, but
snuck walked down to the empty seats up front just in time to see stunning Yonder’s showcase at first base. Watching Kendall mow down the Sox from the upper deck was exciting, but right up close, it was chilling. I’ve seen moments of that performance before, for a few innings, for a few pitches, but he was non-stop from pitch one to when the A’s finally ran off the field, closely followed by a spectacular US Cellular Field fireworks show, clearly a celebration of his first career shutout. There were only A’s fans left (and some small children) at that point, so who else could they have been for?
Graveman’s performance was so much fun to watch, I almost forgot our offense was coming through and trounced James Shields and the White Sox for nine runs, three homers (Davis, Vogt and Alonso) and 11 hits. The 9-0 rout ended with only two hits on their side and one error from us. You can never hope for too much in an end-of-August contest between two non-contending teams, but I lucked out with one of the best games of the season.
Saturday sucked. It rained just enough to soak us at the beginning, and so that every damn seat I sat in was soaked when I moved closer to the “action”. I was uncomfortable, my butt was wet and the White Sox fans got rowdier with every run scored. Thankfully, neither team was wearing throwback jerseys, because Chris Sale was on the mound, and he was on fire.
For the first time since July 2nd.
In the ninth inning, Valencia homered and Eibner knocked in Healy for a run. With two men on, Pinder stepped up to the plate. It was his MLB debut and he was a swing away from cutting the Sox lead to one. He crushed it ... almost. Pinder’s shot fell a few feet short of a homer. Not only was he out, he was unknowingly acting out a metaphor for our entire season. Almost there, almost there ... no dice.
I usually only get the A’s three or four times a season, so the game was fun regardless, but there were continued positives. Pinder’s debut, Brett Eibner’s hair, Valencia producing out of the DH slot (he went two for four on the night) and Healy continuing to show his hustle at third while posting a hit and a run.
We ended up losing the contest 6-2, Sale picking up his first W since early July, while Detwiler added another loss to his record.
Sunday was bright and sunny and I was mostly stoked about seeing Bruce Maxwell catching up close. Not only that, but getting to see Semien and Healy working next to each other at third and short has become one of my new favorite things, especially in person.
Pinder was back at second base for game two of his MLB career. In pictures, he looks like he’s about 16. In person, he looks like he’s about 14. I’d like to say Sonny finally has a teammate who looks younger than him, but Sonny looks like he’s 12, so he’ll have to wait a little longer on that one.
The White Sox struck early, hammering Zach Neal for three runs in the first inning. He calmed himself down after that, only giving up one more run for the rest of his time on the mound. We managed two runs in the fourth (a Khris Davis two-run shot) and the game remained locked at 4-2. Both teams had obviously used up all their runs in the first two contests.
In the top of the ninth, Alonso singled on a line drive to left, and that’s when things got a little strange. Chad Pinder came up to bat, representing the tying run. Was last night happening again? Surely, it would end differently. Any other way. On an 0-1 count, Pinder slammed the ball deep to center ... just short. Out, for his second game in a row.
It’s the end of another losing season, which means it’s a lot of fun watching the guys who will represent the team next season getting in some valuable playing time. Not only that, but getting to see what Graveman did in person was a treat far beyond my expectations.
Now it’s time to go back to the world of A’s on my TV as I look forward to next year when Graveman starts like the one I’d seen on Friday are a more frequent occurrence and Pinder’s shots are finally clearing the wall. (Just keep saying it so it will happen.)
And as a footnote, to make everything even better after my weekend of baseball fun, I got to see Pearl Jam on Monday night. A fitting cap to the extravaganza.