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“Quarter Header” Shaping Up To Pose Interesting Dilemmas

Oakland Athletics v Kansas City Royals
“Wait, where’d Josh Harrison go?”
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Finally, after tomorrow, broadcasters and fans alike won’t have to create garbled and rambling sentences to account for “...and the completion of the suspended game on September 6th”. Saturday morning we will wake up to a team whose “games played” total is an integer, not a fraction.

And as that day approaches, the A’s find themselves in a slightly awkward position not of their own making. Liam Hendriks is on the mound, thanks to all of 4 pitches he threw before the rains came — oh wait they never did — so he won’t have the 9th, but presumably he’ll have the 7th.

However, now there are further complications as Oakland prepares to throw 12 innings — that is assuming the A’s don’t suffer the indignity of being walked off in their own ballpark. The team will be without “every day Yusmeiro” Petit, attending to a family matter, and should be absent A.J. Puk after the lefty picked up his first big league win with 2 IP in today’s comeback victory. Puk is not expected to pitch in back to back games.

Keep in mind that the A’s came within an eyelash of putting up a bigger lead than the 5-3 advantage they hold in the suspended game. The top of the 7th, in which Oakland scored two on a Piscotty hit to take the lead, ended with Nicholas Castellanos making a fine running catch in the right-center field alley to rob Jurickson Profar of what would have been a two-run double (or triple).

A 7-3 lead would have given the A’s far more assurance that they could get the suspended game to the house without “pulling out all the stops,” but the score is 5-3 and the Tigers have 9 outs to try to catch up. That’s a small enough lead, and enough innings, for even the Tigers to pose a threat.

If it weren’t for those 4 pitches Hendriks already threw, the A’s might have entertained an idea they have ruled out and that is to let Sean Manaea pitch the last 3 innings. Manaea started last Sunday and would be exactly on turn Friday, and was “lights out” for 3 innings at Yankee Stadium before tiring in the middle innings. The A’s could have taken advantage of the “six-man rotation” to give Manaea a “start” that was actually a “finish” — technically a chance for a 3-inning save, Rollie Fingers style — and still keep the other 5 on regular rest.

Instead the A’s are opting to give each of their starting pitchers extra rest and Manaea has been listed as Sunday’s SP. Absent Petit, if the game remains close Oakland will have to mix and match with Hendriks completing the 7th, likely Joakim Soria taking the 9th due to his closing experience, and perhaps a combination of Jake Diekman and Blake Treinen (who did not pitch today) entrusted with keeping the Motor City Kitties at bay in the 8th.

And then you still have a nightcap, also known as “the game that was always on the schedule for September 6th”. With any luck, Homer Bailey gets deep into the game because by the time he needs relief, it may not abound. Perhaps Bob Melvin will opt to use one of his relievers in both games. It helps that Ryan Buchter (0.2 IP, 11 pitches) and Lou Trivino (0.1 IP, 4 pitches) did not throw very much today. Or perhaps it is Paul Blackburn’s day to shine.

However you slice it, with Petit away, Puk unavailable, 3 other relievers having pitched today, Hendriks already committed to the 7th inning of the suspended game, and so many of the other relievers volatile from day to day, it’s going to be 5 hours of difficult decisions for the A’s skipper to try to sweep that rarest of beasts: the “quarter header”. It will be especially interesting to see how the wheels turn on this fateful evening that we have been anticipating for over 100 days.