Kirby Puckett

Kirby Puckett

Friday, August 29, 2014

A's-Angels: A Running Diary

9:10: We’re live at the Wilson Moore estates for the Angels vs A’s in the biggest series since… Well, since when they met last week. Here’s a running diary of my thoughts.

9:12: The Oakland broadcast shows the A’s lineup. It’s typical small market, good team. Nobody’s hitting close to .300, Jonny Gomes is hitting cleanup, and yet they somehow manage to score runs. I’ve never understood the logic of people who say that doesn’t work in the playoffs. It’s all the same game.

9:15: Josh “Hero of nerd, enemy of the casual fan” Donaldson draws a walk. He’s the anti Joe Mauer, who puts up great numbers every year without seeming to get the respect of the nerds.

9:17: Wilson gets out of it with just the walk. Next up we have the struggling Sonny Gray, a big part of the A’s recent difficulties. As Jonah Keri pointed out last week, he just hit the wall of the most innings he’s ever pitched in one season.

9:25: Trout gets punched out on a borderline high strike. It’s the type of pitch they don’t usually call but should if they want to speed up games.

9:25: Pujols gets called out the exact pitch. At least Greg Gibson is being consistent. We then get a fantastic shot of Mike Sciocia in the dugout staring at him with one of those, “You are so stupid I’m in shock right now” looks while slowing shaking his head.

9:30: Derek Norris bounces out to new Angel Gordon Beckham, who I’ll sorely miss being in the Central just because of the level of comedy he adds to the game while watching it with my uncle. He says that’s the most British sounding name of all time and whenever sees him doing something talks in a stereotypical British accent.

9:36: The A’s announcer gets a great dig in on Angels fans, while the camera’s showing some people in Athletics jerseys, “The A’s fans show up on time here in southern California”

9:39: Hamilton singles for the Angel’s first hit, dumping it in front of Gomes in left.

9:41: Howie Kendrick slashes a single past Andy Parrino at short. Here comes the Sonny Gray, over innings meltdown.

9:43: Yup, Aybar singles in the same spot, as Gomes’s throw to the plate comes in late. (Cut to all the A’s fans screaming, “Why did we have to give up Cespedes?”)

9:45: Gray throws his second straight wild pitch; you can feel the inevitable bases clearing double coming. Gray needs to get out of this inning before it gets to Trout. We all know what’s going to happen if he goes there.

9:50: The announcers mention that Beckham has been hitting better since he got to the Angels. I have a theory that every player is briefly rejuvenated after being traded and always is better in every aspect. There was Manny to the Dodgers, Willingham just recently, Morales earlier this year… I could go on and on.

9:52: Beckham bloops a single off the end of his bat. That’s tough for Gray. He had struck out the previous batter, was about to get out of the inning and had Beckham 0-2 before that. He just got unlucky.

10:00: Parrino strikes out looking. Gibson has a huge strike zone. That pitch looked at the knees or a little lower.

10:06: Trout singles and flashes a jazz hands symbol at the dugout. Is this going to be this year’s weird symbol like the Brewer’s “Beast mode” or the moose antlers on the Rangers? Trout’s one of the few players who makes me stop what I’m doing and look up when he’s at the plate. Only him, McCutchen, Cabrera and Cano make me do that.

10:11: Just thought I’d point out that Geovany Soto’s reflective chest protector makes him look like the Green Goblin from the first Spider-Man movie.

10:14: Gray’s thrown six straight balls out of the strike zone. There are runners on first and third after Trout advanced on a fly ball. He hasn’t looked like the same gutsy pitcher from last year’s ALDS against the Tigers who went up and in on Torii Hunter when he was crowding the plate. That guy looked confident enough to go toe to toe with anyone. It just hasn’t been there tonight.

10:24: After Donaldson doubles down the line in left, Gomes takes a ball just outside, followed by the reappearance of the Sciocia face.

10:26: Gomes hits the ball to the warning track and we see two of the most awkward baseball moments on one play: First, Hamilton jumps to catch it even though he’s nowhere close to the wall, and then on the replay we find out that Gomes flipped his bat and watched the ball, thinking he had a homer.

10:27: “C.J. Wilson isn’t just going to give up,” Ok, I’m glad we got that clarified.

10:28: Wilson gets out of it. This just isn’t the Athletics’ day.

10:35: Gray gets through the fourth allowing just a walk, although he got a double play on a great stop by Parrino, if that had gotten through he would’ve had first and third with none out. This feels like a Tommy Milone start.

10:37: One of the bad things about watching a game on MLB.TV is that I can’t make fun of any commercials because all I see is an MLB logo between innings.

10:40: The A’s get there first run on a double by Soto that Calhoun misplays in the corner, allowing him to go to third Brandon Moss to score “All the way” from first base as every announcer in the world would say.

10:43: There’s a great shot of Chili Davis in the Oakland dugout. The camera stays on him for about ten seconds and he doesn’t move at all, staying slumped over the railing the entire time. Can someone wake him up?

10:45: Coco Crisp lines a ball over the shortstop’s head to give the A’s their second run of the game. Now that’s what I call moneyball, baby! No, that has nothing to do with anything, I just like saying that when I watch the A’s.

10:50: Crisp fakes toward second to try to draw a throw, which he does. On the next pitch, like a cocky kid pushing his luck too far, he does it again and gets picked off.

10:56: Three up, three down, for Gray. I have to say, he’s calmed down since the third. He still isn’t, “Gray ALDS” but he’s getting there.

11:00: Donaldson absolutely kills a ball over the left field fence to tie it up. Crisp is officially off the hook. Kudos to the A’s for making a human tunnel for Donaldson to run through in the dugout after he gets back. It’s stuff like that where you can really tell what a team’s chemistry is like.

11:03: Rattled, Wilson then walks Gomes.

11:04: After a double play, Callaspo singles for their fifth hit in the last two innings, after just two in the previous four. Someone woke them up.

11:08: Wilson just walked Moss after throwing three straight pitches in the same spot and having one called a strike and two balls. Here comes Sciocia, that’s all for him today.

11:10: C.J. Wilson looks like he’s ready to go on a three state killing spree.

11:13: New pitcher Mike Morin walks Soto, bringing up pinch hitter Stephen Vogt, who you might remember for his walk off hit last year against the Tigers in the ALDS.

11:15: Vogt looks like the manliest guy on the field. He isn’t wearing batting gloves and has his helmet and bat covered with pine tar.

11:18: Oakland’s announcers are a bit dramatic. One of them just said that this at bat could decide the game, despite declaring Freese’s second inning plate appearance “The most important at bat of the game.”

11:18: Vogt strikes out on the eighth pitch of the at bat to end the inning in a tie game.

11:22: Kendrick singles and does the jazz hands again. We need a name for this.

11:25: Gray just got another double play turned behind him. He’s officially back into ALDS mode right now. This has been a really resilient performance, I expected him to implode about an hour ago.

11:34: Donaldson draws his second walk of the game to bring up another pinch hitter in Josh Reddick. Sciocia’s doing the face again.

11:35: Reddick hits a fly to center which looks like it might fall in but Trout makes what Dick Bremer would call “A fine running grab” to take it away.

11:40: Ianetta strikes out. I’ll say it again: After a rocky start, Gray looks really, really good. He’s attacking the strike zone, getting ahead of batters, and just generally making the Angels feel uncomfortable.

11:47: The Angels bring in Joe Smith, who, despite his solid regular numbers, has and ERA north of 12 against Oakland this year.

11:51: The Angels are putting the shift on for Moss, prompting a discussion over whether it’s an unwritten rule to not bunt. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, do something that doesn’t help your team win the game.

11:57: Luke Gregorson comes on in relief, sporting a really weird beard.

12:00: Home plate umpire Greg Gibson calls a high strike on Trout, who steps out of the box looking disgusted. He’s been calling it all night. They just need to adjust.

12:03: After a nice backhanded stop, the A’s announcer compares Donaldson to Brooks Robinson. I think the entire season will be on someone’s shoulders soon. Hopefully it will be one of the guys who’s as good as Willie Mays at the plate.

12:06: After every pitch, Soto reaches forward and brushes the plate. Does he not think the pitcher can see it? Is he a neat freak? So many questions.

12:13: Ex Twins watch! Sam Fuld steps to the plate as a pinch hitter.

12:16: Fuld flies out to Trout. We head to the bottom of the ninth.

12:18: Dan Otero is on to face Erick Aybar.

12:20: Weird situation: Aybar chops the ball up the first base line, Otero and Moss both go for it, Otero takes it just outside the line, as Aybar runs into Otero. They give Aybar first, ruling interference on Moss, saying he forced Aybar out of the line.

12:23: The A’s are protesting. Ever since the Giants won theirs, everybody thinks they can do it now. Good luck with that.

12:25: John McDonald lay a beautiful bunt down the first base line, and makes it on a miscommunication between Moss and Otero. Runners on first and second.

12:27: Dioner Navarro bunts again to bring the runners to second and third.

12:28: The A’s intentionally walk Beckham to set up a force and bring up Kole Calhoun. I don’t know yet if they’ll bring the infield in. I wouldn’t. If I’m Bob Melvin the last thing I want is Mike Trout up in this situation. Just go for the double play. It’s a risk worth taking.

12:31: After seeing 53 replays, I can now see that Aybar changed his path to run into Otero after he had the ball. Crafty play. There’s now a decent chance they win.

12:33: Calhoun pops out. Here comes Trout, who will face another reliever in Ryan Cook.

12:37: Trout grounds to Donaldson, who makes a surprisingly shaky throw to second. But Callaspo keeps his foot on the bag to send it to extras.

12:45: I’ve never heard less energy in an extra inning game than right now. It sounds like the third inning right now. C’mon Angels fans, I expected better of you.

12: 47: Fernando Salas retires the A’s 1-2-3. We head to the bottom of the tenth.

12:50: Cook walks Pujols to start out the inning.

12:51: Hamilton hits a gounder just past the diving Callaspo to bring Pujols to third base with no outs. The A’s will bring the infield and outfield in.

12:55: Kendrick hits a high fly ball to right, Reddick catches it, Pujols tags and the game’s over. Man, that was crazy.

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