The Athletics pushed back against the oncoming tide, against all odds, the A's were neither perfectoed, no-hit, nor even defeated. Nay! The Oakland Athletics defeated the Seattle Mariners 3-2 in 10 innings in a postseason-like atmosphere in front of a sold out Safeco Field there for Night Court.
A's bats aggressive early
It was clear from the start that the Athletics would not be trying to work counts against Felix Hernandez as soon as Coco Crisp slapped a base hit on the first pitch of the game. The next three batters, Sam Fuld, Josh Donaldson, and Adam Dunn, each were retired on two pitches, one pitch, and one pitch, respectively.
The Athletics were getting hard contact that were finding gloves everywhere and bloopers that were just in reach of the speedy Mariners defense. For the first five innings, the A's had a base runner four times, and Felix Hernandez had only thrown 56 pitches to that point.
Oh no, that's not how you slide LoMo. No.
In the top of the second inning, Mike Zunino hit into what should have been a routine double play, but was instead this hilarity:
Yes, that's Logan Morrison sliding three feet wide of second base to try to break up the double play. If you're keeping score at home, Official Baseball Rule 10.09(c)(7) calls on you to award the fielder closest to the runner called out for interference the putout, while crediting the fielder prevented from making a throw by the interference with an assist. So it's two separate plays, Morrison is out 4-6, and Mike Zunino is out on defensive interference 6-3.
Mariners strike first, but A's are defensively crisp
Sonny Gray took awhile to work out of the first two innings, taking 21 pitches to get through the first and 14 more to get out of the second.
In the third, James Jones led off with a deep fly ball to center that Coco Crisp played well off the wall, and a good thing he did. Jones reached third base standing, and any misplay might have been an inside-the-park home run with his speed.
With the infield in, rookie shortstop Chris Taylor hit a simple ground ball base hit up the middle to score Jones, taking a 1-0 lead. Taylor was erased when Austin Jackson grounded to Eric Sogard for a 4-3 double play.
The slick fielding continued for Oakland when, after Sonny Gray walked Kendrys Morales with one out, Kyle Seager grounded to Brandon Moss. Brandon Moss smoothly completed the throw to Jed Lowrie, who in turn was able to fire back to Sonny Gray covering, and Gray stretched his 5'11" frame to complete the double play and end the fourth.
Aggression pays off for Josh Donaldson
The A's continued their aggression all the way up to the sixth, when Josh Donaldson came up to demolish Felix Hernandez's 1-0 pitch into the left field bleachers:
The home run was the A's first extra-base hit since Donaldson's double in the sixth inning last Wednesday. Sonny Gray completed the shutdown inning inning, and we stayed tied at one through the sixth inning.
Eric Sogard have a night
In the seventh, Jed Lowrie was first called out on strikes by a gnat's patootie:
Josh Reddick stepped up next and laced a double into the left field gap. Derek Norris struck out swinging, but Reddick advanced to third on a wild pitch before Norris was done. Then, Eric Sogard came up to the plate.
To that point, Sogard had reached on two infield singles. This time, Sogard blooped a single just over the reach of shortstop Chris Taylor to score Reddick, running all the way with two out, good for a 2-1 lead.
Sogard ended the day 3-for-4 with a stolen base, and also reached third when Felix Hernandez tossed another wild pitch that Mike Zunino couldn't quite corral. Coco Crisp struck out on a full count, but the Athletics had scored two runs on Felix Hernandez, and he was going to leave the game.
Cano ties it up
Tragically, the good times lasted all of six minutes when Robinson Cano launched a 1-0 shot to right to tie it up at 2.
Lloyd McClendon lifted Felix Hernandez after seven innings, and turned to Joe Beimel to take on Sam Fuld. Sam Fuld grounded out to short.
Next, oh here comes Lloyd. Lloyd turned to Tom Wilhelmsen to face Josh Donaldson. Donaldson walked on five pitches.
And next, oh wait here comes Lloyd. Lloyd turned to Charlie Furbush to get Adam Dunn out of the game, and he faced Jonny Gomes. Gomes struck out, and then Brandon Moss worked a full-count walk.
Up next, oh wait here comes Lloyd. Lloyd went to Danny Farquhar, who struck out Jed Lowrie on a ball in the dirt.
Yep, four relievers in the eighth inning. September!
It all works out for Bob Melvin
Sonny Gray worked out of trouble in the eighth inning when James Jones advanced to second base on a throwing error on a pickoff move with one out. Chris Taylor ended up striking out, and Gray pulled off the huge strikeout to end his day with eight inning pitched, seven strikeouts, two runs allowed.
In the ninth, Eric Sogard reached on a fielder's choice, and he made a move that I really liked. On 1-2, Sogard tried to steal second. Crisp took ball two, and Sogard was initially called safe but the call was reversed on replay. I liked the move because the penalty is very low. Either Crisp is out on strikes, gets a 2-2 count with a runner in scoring position, or he gets a fresh count the next inning.
But then Bob Melvin turned to Luke Gregerson in the bottom of the ninth in a tied game with two lefties and a switch-hitter due up, and Fernando Abad already warmed. The second lefty was Robinson Cano. Endy Chavez grounded out to Gregerson. With our heads in our hands waiting for the walk off home run off Cano's bat, Gregerson instead induced a grounder to second. Finally, against Kendrys Morales, Luke Gregerson got him to swing and miss, sending the game to extra frames.
Oh no Fernando Rodney that is not how you are supposed to pitch
Fernando Rodney entered in the top of the 10th and promptly began his best "Athletics reliever Jim Johnson" impression. Rodney demonstrated zero control and walked Coco Crisp. Sam Fuld bunted Crisp over, and Donaldson was intentionally walked.
Alberto Callaspo came in, prompting me to remember that he is better against right-handed pitching.
Not a lot of options against RHP. pic.twitter.com/2tIZ2WxTel— Jeremy F. Koo (@jfkooAN) September 14, 2014
Callaspo did not receive much of anything close, and walked on five pitches to load the bases for Brandon Moss.
Brandon Moss almost got hit by a pitch, and then Brandon Moss made an enormous cut on a ball, but did not make contact. Instead, he ended up striking out looking, making it bases loaded and two out for Jed Lowrie.
Jed Lowrie watched four pitches go by, and there was the go-ahead run, without a hit.
Josh Redick nearly broke the game open with Fernando Rodney still in the game for some reason, but Chris Taylor made an impressive diving catch to save at least two runs.
Sean Doolittle made his first appearance since his activation off the disabled list with an intercostal strain. There was no drama, and Doolittle signaled a bear claw toward the A's dugout to celebrate the victory and his 21st save.
Lester Day, all my victories seemed so far away
Now it looks as though they're here to stay
Oh, I believe in Lester Day.
Suddenly, I'm now the fan I used to be
There's some sunshine hanging over me.
Oh, Lester Day came suddenly.
Why he has to go* I don't know Billy wouldn't say
I said something wrong, now I long for Lester Day
Lester Day, baseball's such an easy game to play
Oh we don't need a place to hide away
Oh, I believe in Lester Day
Mm mm mm mm mm mm mm
*At the end of the year
First pitch is at 1:10 pm.