Saturday, September 11, 2004
Posted 3:44 PM by Sean
I was sure that last night was destined to be another of those games in which the offense just never gets it together; that the Angels were going down 2-0 or 3-1. But Vlad cranked one, GA picked up Frankie, and the A's feel to the Tribe in extras. This morning, the Angels site one game out, in striking distance.
Tonight, Aaron "Lesser of Two Evils For Now" Sele starts against Chicago's Jason Grilli. At the moment, though, Oakland and Cleveland are on the teevee, C.C. Sabathia versus Rich Harden. Sabathia's looking pretty good at the moment - he's pitched out of trouble once or twice, and seems to have his good stuff. Harden is also looking pretty good, though he's given up a couple of doubles and trails 1-0 in the bottom of the third. I'll be updating this post as events in this game unfold, an experiment I'll probably repeat several more times before the end of the season.
Bottom 3rd: Sabathia puts runners on first and second with one out, but gets Byrnes to pop out to the catcher and Chavez to fly out to right.
Top 4th: Vizquel flies out to center. Lawton, who has the only Cleveland RBI so far, pops up in foul territory to Chavez. Harden works a 1-2 count to Martinez pitching in and down, then gets him swinging with a fastball on the outside corner for the third out.
Bottom 4th: Hatteberg gets ahold of an inside pitch, but is tied up a little bit and ends up driving it to the warning track, where it's snagged by Gerut. Sabathia tries a first-pitch fastball to Miller over the heart of the plate, and Miller promptly swats it into center for a single. Durazo walks on four straight pitches, each of them just missing various bits of the strike zone. Sabathia works Crosby up and down in the strike zone, striking him out on a fastball down the middle, a fastball low in the strike zone, and - Crosby's only swing - a fastball at the shoulders. Swisher walks on four straight balls, loading the bases. Sabathia starts Scutaro with a breaking pitch, inside. Another breaking pitch is taken for strike one. A fastball is fouled away. Another fastball is taken high and away. Another foul. Another high ball. At 3-2, Scutaro lifts a fastball into left field, where Lawton comes in and catches it on the run. The A's strand three, score none.
Top 5th: Hafner works a walk, making Harden throw 10 pitches. Blake grounds a 1-2 breaking pitch to short, and the A's turn a textbook 6-4-3 double play. Harden issues another walk, putting Broussard on. Belliard drives Harden's first pitch to deep center, but Kotsay catches it at the wall. Halfway home, it's still Cleveland 1, Oakland 0. Harden's thrown 80 pitches.
Bottom 5th: Sabathia, meanwhile, starts the home half of the 5th having thrown 74 pitches. The later Sabathia can go, the better; Cleveland has the worst bullpen in the league. He cruises through Kotsay and Byrnes, getting the former to fly out and the latter to ground to third. Chavez draws a walk; Sabathia appears to want nothing to do with him. After throwing ball one to Hatteberg, Sabathia gets a visit from pitching coach Carl Willis, and appears to be quite animated in telling Willis to quit worrying and let him pitch. After throwing another ball to Hatteberg, he blows two fastballs past him, then moves to 3-2 with an off-speed pitch that's a little bit high. Sabathia comes back with another fastball low in the zone, which is again grounded to third. Sabathia pitch count: 90.
Top 6th: Harden appears to be working primarily off his breaking stuff, slipping fastballs in from time to time to keep the hitters honest. He gets Gerut on a high 3-2 fastball that would have been ball four. Crisp shows bunt on the first pitch, a ball, but isn't fooling anyone. Harden doesn't even give him a fastball for the next pitch, laying a breaking ball in for a called strike. Gerut grounds a 2-2 pitch to short. Vizquel makes a serious attempt to bunt early in the count, then reconsiders when the count hits 2-1 and ends up lining a 2-2 pitch - Harden's 100th - to right for a single. The A's bullpen gets busy, but Vizquel takes off on an 0-1 pitch and is thrown out by approximately a thousand feet for out 3. Harden pitch count: 102.
Bottom 6th: Sabathia gets Miller to fly out to right, Durazo to hit a sky-high pop-up that's taken by second baseman Ronnie Belliard, and Crosby to fly out to Crisp in center, all early in the count. He throws a total of seven pitches. Sabathia pitch count: 97.
Top 7th: Harden remains in the game, and Lawton greets him by smoking his first pitch through the right side of the infield for a single. The A's leave Harden, a right-hander, in to pitch to the switch-hitting Martinez, a home run threat. Harden's breaking pitch seems to have lost some crispness. Martinez gets a good pitch to hit on 2-0, but gets under it a little and hits a fly ball into foul territory, a few steps out of the range of Swisher. Rincon and Mecir are warming up. Martinez takes a low fastball and strokes it into right for another single, putting runners on first and second with nobody out. Harden remains in to face Hafner, a lefty. He misses with the first pitch, hangs the second, and Harden hits it to San Jose to give the Indians a 4-0 lead. Macha comes to get him.
The A's make that Nextel Direct Connect Call to the Bullpen (tm) for Jim Mecir, whose breaking pitches (a screwball, primarily) looks a heck of a lot better than Harden's did. Blake goes down on strikes, but Broussard does a fine job of putting that screwball into right field for a single. The A's announcers begin to talk about how they're "due" for a comeback against Cleveland, a theory of statistics that Billy Beane may wish to discuss with them some time. Mecir gets a little cutesy with his pitches and goes 3-0 on Belliard, but retires him a moment later when Byrnes manages to catch a foul ball that would have gotten out of play in just about any other stadium. Mecir is removed in favor of Rincon as Gerut comes to bat. That's right, the left-handed reliever is brought in to retire the lefty batting ninth, not the one batting fifth with home run power. Rincon retires Gerut on a pop up to the catcher. It takes one pitch.
Bottom 7th: Sabathia remains in the game. He starts Swisher with two balls, then gives up a single scalded through the left side of the diamond. Scutaro does the exact same thing on the very next pitch, a mirror-image situation of Cleveland's half of the inning. Willis returns to the mound for a conference, in which Sabathia appears significantly more subdued. Kotsay shows bunt on the first pitch and takes strike one, then pops the second pitch to Gerut in left. The lefty Sabathia throws a pair of balls low and inside to the righty Byrnes, then misses wide. The 3-0 is a strike at the knees. The 3-1 is the same, but fouled back. Byrnes takes an underpowered breaking pitch for ball four, loading the bases for Chavez with one out. Sabathia remains in. Chavez is a lefty, but is hitting left-handed pitchers at above .300 this year. He fouls the first pitch off, then chops the second off the infield. Belliard makes a fine play to field the ball and throw out Chavez, but the first Oakland run scores from third. Hatteberg stands in against Sabathia and rips one down the right-field line for a bases-clearing double to make it 4-3. After 113 pitches, Sabathia is removed for a relief pitcher.
Rafael Betancourt enters the game to pitch to Miller. Miller pops the first pitch up to third, ending the inning. It's a battle of the bullpens now.
Top 8th: Crisp starts the eighth by singling to right off Rincon. Vizquel is looking to sarifice him over, but misses one and fouls one off. He pops a 1-2 pitch up in foul terrirory, taken by Chavez. Rincon becomes obsessed with Crisp at first, throwing over a few times and looking him back a few more. Crisp goes nowhere for the first two pitches to Lawton, then takes off on a 1-1 count and barely beats out a good throw from Miller. Lawton's at-bat runs to 3-2, when he's rung up on a checked swing. Eric Wedge barks at the umps from the Cleveland dugout, but Lawton went and knows it. Victor Martinez comes to the plate, this time hitting from the right side against the lefty Rincon. Rincon works carefully to Martinez, knowing he has a more favorable matchup against Hafner and that first base is open, but Martinez ends up popping up a low fastball to Crosby at short for the third out.
Bottom 8th: Bob Howry comes in to start the eighth for Cleveland, pitching to Durazo. Howry blows an inside fastball past him for a (taken) strike three. He misses with a pair to Crosby, then Crosby, sitting on a fastball, gets exactly that and parks it in the left-field seats to tie the game. Howry calmly returns to work against Swisher, goes 2-2 on him, and then hangs one that Swisher swats into the right-field seats. The A's take the lead, 5-4. Howry remains in, and induces a grounder from Scutaro back to the mound for a 1-3 groundout. Kotsay takes two balls, then lines a single into right, chasing Howry. Jason Davis, one of Cleveland's less-than-stellar performers, enters the game to face Byrnes, throws one pitch, then picks Kotsay off first to end the inning.
Top 9th: Octavio Dotel enters the game for the A's. Dotel has been notso-hotso against lefties this year, but gets Hafner to pop up to short on the first pitch. Dotel works Casey Blake inside-out and gets him swinging. Broussard hits a looper on Dotel's first pitch that Chavez catches over his shoulder, on the run, and the A's win, 5-4.
Well, crap. The Indians had that one in their gloves, and it popped out. Oakland's lead is now 1.5 games, pending tonight's Angels-White Sox game.
As for this inning-by-inning blogging, it's funny - I don't think I could do it for an Angels game. I'm way too focused on actually watching those games to spend this much time transcribing the action.