By Jason Wojciechowski on June 23, 2011 at 7:00 PM
Game 76 is now over, since it happened, even with a rain delay, while I was still at work. Still, a thirteen-inning marathon that only ended when Justin Turner turned his leg into a slow slider by Brad Ziegler? Of course I'm still going to give this game the full-writeup treatment.
Box & Notes
Jemile Weeks batted lefty his first time up against R.A. Dickey, but switched around to the right side for all his at-bats after that, not that it mattered. He came somewhat close to a down-the-line hit in the 12th off of Pedro Beato, but with Lucas Duda playing to hold Scott Sizemore on first, he was able to easily corral it and step on the bag for the out. That almost-hit-that-wasn't-even-really-a-robbery was the cloest thing to reaching base Weeks managed.
Especially with Mark Ellis back from the disabled list, the "would Ellis have gotten that ball" question was big in the 13th inning, when Lucas Duda hit a grounder to the right of second, not terribly hard, that Weeks never really got close to. The replay showed that Weeks was positioned well over in the hole, playing the lefty Duda to pull, especially against the righty ground-baller Brad Ziegler. If Ellis is in the same spot, I can't imagine any additional jump he gets allows him to field the ball. We'll keep asking the question, though.
The most notable thing Cliff Pennington did was stay batting lefty against Dickey en route to two strikeouts against the knuckleballer.
Coco Crisp came around to score the tying run in the ninth after his one-out double lined down the right-field line. The cameras are blocked down the lines, and CSN either did not show or I did not see the replay, so I still have no idea whether I might've been spared five pointless innings by mere inches or by feet.
Hideki Matsui walked twice and struck out four times. Jack Cust could've managed that.
Matsui's creeky knees let him make one more great catch, this time in the eleventh inning with a runner on first and two out. Daniel Murphy hit a sinking liner that Matsui made a sort of tumbling, rolling catch on, getting the ball into his glove just before it touched the ground. Certainly if the ball had rolled past him (a legitimate possibility since Matsui made a kind of dive to the side, meaning that his body would not have blocked the ball had it eluded his glove), the game would've been over. Even on a trap, with the ball in Matsui's glove, the play would have been interesting, because Duda was running all the way, Matsui likely would have tried to sell the catch for a second, and his throwing arm isn't exactly known for its Sweeney-like capabilities.
So it's a good thing he made the catch! The A's might have lost otherwise.
(Oh, Matsui also reached into the seats and took a ball away from a fan for the last out of the fourth. It was more of a timing and concentration play than classic pure athleticism, but it was still pretty awesome.)
Conor Jackson knocked in Coco Crisp for the tying run in the ninth, but was unable to pull the trick twice, leaving a runner on second with one out in the eleventh.
Ryan Sweeney probably got an official single in the second when he hit a routine fly to center that Scott Hairston just lost, resulting in the ball dropping five feet in front of him. I grant no such ridiculous favors, though. That ball is caught for an out 9,999 times out of 10,000. No points.
Sweeney also gets no points for his almost-catch on Jose Reyes's triple in the eighth, as he leaped at the wall, very nearly coming down with the ball, but missing it in the end. Without that hit, and thus without, presumably, the Mets taking a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the eighth, who knows what happens at the end of the game.
Anyway, Sweeney gets all his points back for his awesome sliding catch in the 10th during which catch he blew a bubble with his gum. Ray 'n' Glen couldn't get enough of that. I know Adam Jones is known for doing this sometimes as well. Others?
Dickey didn't make many mistakes, but Kurt Suzuki crushed one of them for the A's first run, a homer to left field that everyone knew was out when he hit it. It wasn't actually the monsterest of monster shots, as Hit Tracker has it with just 360 feet of true distance, the fourth-shortest homer of the night, but the angle, which you can see here, made it a no-doubter.
Suzuki caught an error in the 8th when he threw a ball into center field trying to get Justin Turner stealing. Carlos Beltran had come out across the plate as he went down swinging, but Suzuki didn't bump him on the throw or particularly try to sell interference. He'd probably tell you in an interview that Beltran did not, in fact, interfere with the throw, because that's how humble and whatever these baseball players are supposed to be, taking all the blame on themselves in the name of accountability, but I'm not convinced -- I think if Beltran is in his batter's box where he belongs, Suzuki may not get Turner out, but he does leave him at second instead of third.
I don't know what the official ruling was on Scott Sizemore's third-inning grounder to Justin Turner at third, but if it wasn't an error, I'll give the official scorer a shiner to show his momma.
Gio Gonzalez laid down a sac bunt in the third that had Dickey, who fielded the ball on the first-base side, thinking hard about trying for the lead runner at second base. A good throw most definitely would have recorded the out, but he probably made the right decision to take the safe play anyway. It was not a great bunt.
Mark Ellis flied out. Mark Ellis is still Mark Ellis.
David DeJesus: bloop single, steal, takes third as the throw goes into center. Left there as Weeks takes a curve for strike three, but still -- tell me again why DeJesus is totally buried on the bench? I'm not saying he's a superstar. He may not even be better than Ryan Sweeney. But he's also not worse than Ryan Sweeney. The A's could use his talents here and there.
Adam Rosales struck out swinging on three pitches against Pedro Beato.
That's pretty much a masterful outing by Gio Gonzalez, with just under 70% strikes, nine swings-and-misses leading to eight strikeouts, only one walk (a two-outer in the bottom of the seventh, after which he blew three fastballs past Ruben Tejada), and even a ground-ball rate that was above 50% as late as the sixth inning.
Remember the whole "RBI whore" thing a little while back with Carlos Beltran? One wonders whether such talk benefited Joey Devine in this game, as Beltran went out of the zone twice in his at-bat, chasing a slider in the dirt and a fastball that looked to be around the letters, resulting in a strikeout and helping Devine keep a bad situation (giving up the go-ahead run after Reyes's triple, mentioned above) from getting worse.
The highs and lows of Craig Breslow: with the winning run on second and two out, he walked Ruben Tejada on four pitches, then struck out Angel Pagan on five, including two whiffs.
Brian Fuentes certainly had to throw a lot of pitches given the weak contact the Mets ended up making on the three balls they put in play.
Michael Wuertz made Jason Pridie look silly. Unfortunately, he's Jason Pridie, so he kinda does that to himself.
Brad Ziegler wound up with the bases loaded in both innings. The difference in the 12th is that he only had to face the aforementioned Jason Pridie, who didn't think about just holding the bat in his hands until Ziegler got close enough with a pitch that he could dive into it and drive home the game-winning run.
Also, I truly do not love the extreme care with which Ziegler pitched to Jose Reyes. He's having a great year, and he's a great player, but you're still talking about loading the bases in a tied game in extra innings when you pitch around him as much as Ziegler did. Anything can happen with a runner on third, and even more can happen with the sacks juiced. The hit-by-pitch, and yes I'm still bitter, is just one.
- The A's managed to not double-switch a single time in a thirteen-inning game. That seems like it'd be rare, at least in the modern game where the starter doesn't pitch 10 or 11 or 12 of those 14 innings.